As 2013 begins, it does so in Santa Rosa County without publicly funded transportation.
Santa Rosa Transit ceased operations Friday.
We donít expect a great public outcry at this loss. You see, though the transit system filled a niche, it couldnít overcome its biggest obstacle: life in Milton and Pace is closer to a rural existence than an urban one.
We love our cars and pickups, and we love our independence. The two combine to spell disaster for any attempt to create public transportation.
As long as the vast majority of a population has its own form of transportation and enjoys getting around independently, public transportation will face an uphill endeavour.
But that wasnít the only problem here in Santa Rosa. First, the ďrouteĒ was basically a run up and down U.S. 90. There are many other places people frequent, but they couldnít get there via Santa Rosa Transit.
So, the system would have benefited from an enhanced route that allowed people to shop Winn Dixie on Dogwood Drive, visit City Hall off Alabama Street, drop by the library, travel highways 87, 89 and 90 as well as Avalon Boulevard and more. Destinations also needed to match local driving habits: The buses needed to stop at Cordova Mall, the many doctorsí offices and medical clinics along Davis Highway in Pensacola and more.
And the lack of destinations was made worse by the systemís biggest limitation of all: There were not enough buses.
With limited vehicles and a route that spanned from East Milton to Pensacola, buses didnít pass bus stops very often. Those who use public transportation typically do not have vehicles. So, if a person walked to a bus stop and missed the bus, they could be facing a lengthy wait. So much so, many simply returned home.
In most major metropolitan cities, buses roll past bus stops every 10 minutes or so. Subways have similar schedules. In addition, there are multiple routes and intersection points so, via transfer, people are able to reach any point they desire.
Santa Rosa Transit was too young, too small and too underfunded to reach a tipping point of success.
Letís face it: The idea was great, but until a communityís population reaches a certain point, it is difficult to justify public transportation.
Still, the whole process is being helped along by ever increasing gas prices.
That, together with the rapid rate at which Santa Rosa grows might yet combine to make the area ripe for public transportation.
Itís just not likely to happen, successfully, anytime soon.