Citrus Connection’s relationship with the elected officials and staffs of the communities it serves has always been strong, and that strength was proven again this year as eight communities showed their residents that they value their need for public transportation.

The Fair Share program with the municipalities addresses seemingly arbitrary rates paid into the public transportation system to help bus service that takes people to work, school, medical appointments, shopping and so much more.

On behalf of the riders who take more than 2 million trips on Citrus Connection buses, we thank the forward-thinking elected officials who realize public transportation is a key component to the quality of life of their residents.

Last year, Citrus Connection began implementing a three-year plan that gets municipalities using the service to pay for 20 percent of the total costs. Half of the costs are paid by the federal government and the other 30 percent will be paid with funds allocated by the Polk County Commission.

Citrus Connection would also like to congratulate Polk County’s newest member, Commissioner Rick Wilson, on his appointment to the board. We wish him all the best as he serves the residents of Polk County.

As we enter a new fiscal year, we have enhanced our routes to make them run as efficient as possible. We also continue forging partnerships for Universal Access Programs and are proud to partner with Polk County Public Schools, LEGOLAND Florida, Polk State College, Southeastern University — just to name a few.

As we enter our 38th year of operation, we offer our sincerest thanks to the passengers, stakeholders and our team members for making the 2017-18 year one we are extremely proud of.

Tom Phillips​ is the executive director of Citrus Connection.