Today’s Winter Haven Area Transit allows people who need transportation
to use the bus service for trips to work, to school, to medical appointments,
shopping, and even to the hairdresser's or out to play cards—and they
do! Since 1999, with a first year start of 84,804 riders a year (7,000 a month),
Winter Haven Area Transit has grown to more than 500,000 riders annually (40,000
Winter Haven Transit Pioneers
The Winter Haven bus system was a team effort. Larry Murphy, an 82-year-old,
legally blind inspiration, talked his colleagues of the National Federation
of the Blind (Polk County Chapter) into believing in the importance of a local
bus service. He personally persuaded the owners and managers of 175 area businesses
into signing endorsements for the service. When the Winter Haven City Commission
joined in, the combination of persistence, devotion and hard work of all concerned
helped bring bus service in Polk County to today’s high point. Today our
buses run throughout the Winter Haven area and into the communities of Auburndale,
Bartow, Eagle Lake, Eloise, Haines City, Jan Phyl Village, Lake Alfred, Lake
Wales, Lakeland and Wahneta.
Congressional representatives and their staffs work
to ensure that the Winter Haven and Lakeland areas receive federal funding each
year for major capital items. Our state Department of Transportation has been
another major player. The City of Bartow and the Polk County Board of County
Commissioners assist in funding the Bartow Express route. The City of Auburndale,
the City of Winter Haven and the Polk County Board of County Commissioners assist
in the funding of the Winter Haven-Auburndale-Lakeland Connector route. Polk
County’s Transit Service Division has stepped up to administer the service,
and our Transportation Planning Organization staff provides planning support.
Even the Citrus Connection helps, by providing four buses for the service. These
partnerships allow us to pull the necessary resources together to fund a bus
service that meets real need.
Winter Haven Area Transit Grows into the Future
From three buses in 1999, we have grown to nine buses running nine routes.
For the next two years, we expect to use a temporary terminal location on 5th
Street N.W. until the new terminal facility is ready. Amenities such as passenger
shelters and benches are also part of our customer-oriented future.
Winter Haven Area Transit flourishes thanks to our supporters. These people
include the private non-profits that use our service, private businesses who
supply our needs, government agencies, and most importantly—every passenger
and every employee. If you’re already a rider, thank you. If you’ve
yet to climb aboard, perhaps today’s the day. We look forward to serving
you—we’re growing your way!