By Cassie Kelly | November 19, 2013
Boosted by a free-rider program during 11 days last month, The Athens Transit bus system has seen an increase in ridership from 59 to 66 percent, officials say.
In fact, Route 4, the newest in the bus system, led the pack for the first time with 944 riders, according to a study done by Michael Lachman, transportation services manager for Athens Transit.
“People are realizing that we have a great transit system now,” said Michele Papai, D-3rd ward.
October was also a record month for the GoBus program, which saw more than 6,500 riders, said Carolyn Conley, transportation services manager for the system.
One of the main attractions for each program is the price, officials said.
It costs $1 for a trip that can take someone all the way to Wal-Mart on East State Street.
With regard to the GoBus, although service fees have increased slightly, passengers can go to Columbus or Cincinnati for about $10. Conley said they raised their service fees because each of the three large, green busses are hitting close to 300,000 miles and will soon need replaced.
“Eighty percent of the costs are covered by federal grant but each bus costs about half a million,” Conley said. “So, we still have to come up with some of the funds ourselves.”
Conley and Lachman both believe that the bus programs are gaining success because people are talking about it.
“Word of mouth has got around that we are a reliable, safe service,” Conley said.
Both programs are also environmentally friendly, Conley said, adding that they average about 100-110 passenger miles per gallon every trip.
“As the town continues to grow in population, we are finding ways to provide transportation that doesn’t wind us up with a polluted, congested mess and all the negatives that are associated with that kind of growth,” Lachman said.
Conley said she is confident the program will only become more popular among students and travelers. She said she hopes one day to see the buses originate in Athens to benefit the area by bringing in jobs and making the system more convenient.
“I’d like to see the possibility of going shopping, to a Reds game or to a doctor appointment and coming back on the same day,” said Conley.
Read the original story in The Post, here.