Okaloosa County transit staff working to improve EC Rider service

With many in our area commuting long ways for work, it can be hard getting around if you don't have reliable transportation.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:52 PM CDT
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OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many people across the area have to commute long distances to work, it can be difficult to get around if you don’t have a reliable mode of transportation.

In Okaloosa County, the Emerald Coast Rider, or EC Rider, is a service offered throughout the county to help those who need to get around.

Okaloosa County Transit Division Manager Tyrone Parker told NewsChannel 7 the service has helped many people in the county, and now they are hoping to improve the service even more.

“There’s always been a need here in Okaloosa County. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have some form of transportation. So that’s where EC Rider comes into play here,” Parker said. “EC Rider Okaloosa County is currently undergoing a comprehensive operations analysis, which basically in layman’s terms is a transit study. They will evaluate the transit system as a whole, like I said, looking at routes, the actual structure of the transit system, and its benefits in Okaloosa County and the surrounding areas here.”

Parker told NewsChannel 7 that improving public transportation not only helps people who may not have any other options, but also it can help people save on gas, and cut down on traffic.

“When you look at it from an emissions standpoint and having fewer vehicles on the road and so forth, the best option is public transit versus if you’re having four cars with two people in those individual cars, those eight passengers could easily ride one of our fixed-route buses,” Parker said.

Parker told NewsChannel 7 that from public transit staff standpoint, he hopes to see more public transportation options in the area.

“It’s something that’s definitely needed, not just here in Okaloosa County but around the Panhandle,” he said.

Over in neighboring Walton County, the public transit GoWal bus has been temporarily suspended due to route reworking. As of right now, it is uncertain when the service will return.