Since early last year, LeeTran has provided a new way to take public transportation through an Uber-esque service that is quickly gaining popularity in Lee County. Since its launch in Bonita Springs, Ultra On-Demand Transit continues to expand its radius.
Starting with just two Ultra buses with a service area of downtown Bonita Springs south to Lovers Key State Park, the city signed a deal for an extra bus in April 2022. At the last city council meeting, the city voted in favor of adding an additional bus and expanding the service area north of Terry Street, between U.S. 41 and Interstate 75, to the city limit.
“It almost encompasses the entire city limits of Bonita Springs,” LeeTran Director Robert Codie said. “We’re looking at the highly populated areas and running the borders of some of those gated communities so that would make the Ultra available outside of their gates.”
With a cost of $1.50 to book a ride through the Uber app and the ability to be picked up at any location in the service area, an average of more than 2,500 people are riding the bus each month. “I think that people find it safe, convenient and accessible,” Codie said. “I also believe that we did a great job partnering with the city of Bonita Springs with marketing and advertising the service.”
The Ultra bus service isn’t the only project LeeTran is focusing on to improve public transportation within the county. There are two large projects focusing on route efficiency and improving time gaps at bus stops where demand is high.
“We’re going through a bus stop accessibility study to not only improve those bus stops in their locations, but to also remove some that are not performing or have low ridership so that we can increase the efficiency and the timeliness of our buses,” Codie said.
LeeTran’s new South Area Transfer Center, across the street from Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers, is designated to open in April. Additionally, a new transfer facility will open in Lehigh Acres in 2024.
Lehigh Acres will be the next area of the county to receive Ultra On-Demand bus service, with two vehicles slated to start running by March.
The service runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.