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Riders upset about Monday bus shutdown

Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 8:18 PM
Last updated Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 2:29 AM
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The city’s addition of Veterans Day as a holiday – and the elimination of bus service Monday – isn’t sitting well with Augusta Bus Riders Association.

“They’re already taking Black Friday, which is the worst thing. They’ve never taken Veterans Day,” said Geraldine Wilson, head of the riders group. “They’re treating us like cargo, not customers.”

Wilson said she learned of the change Friday, and demanded and received a refund for the Monday portion of her $15 weekly bus pass. Wilson said she thought it was a decision by McDonald Transit, the city’s new bus operator.

But city officials said the service doesn’t operate on city holidays, which were expanded earlier this year to include Veterans Day at the urging of Commissioner Bill Lockett, a veteran of two U.S. armed forces.

“Bus service doesn’t run on city holidays,” said City Administrator Fred Russell, who didn’t answer a reporter’s question about refunding riders for the missed day.

The service’s limited hours and days – there is no service on Sundays – are a common rider complaint, but McDonald is operating the service as is.

The company, which took over in August, has proposed expanding hours and routes, but the changes will cost the city about $2.15 million more per year.

McDonald is saving the city money over prior operator Mobility Transit, which tied up the city with litigation when the commission voted to terminate Mobility’s contract.

The service remains a money-loser, in that fares do not fully cover operating costs, although most buses are purchased using federal grant funds.

Wilson, who is self-employed, relies heavily on the service and unannounced changes disrupt her routine.

“I am all over the city every day,” Wilson said. “We’ve been waiting for changes for years. They talk about it and nothing gets done.”

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fatboyhog 11/08/13 - 10:49 pm
Wrong attitude?

$15/week???? Then buy a car. That doesn't even pay my fuel bill for several days. Add insurance, wear and tear, maintenance, etc. $15 a week is a bargain. Is that for unlimited riding? I understand that some people rely on bus service, but dang, make some arrangements around holidays. Or, run the buses, but increase the fare to offset overtime. Of course, people would complain about that too.

Bodhisattva 11/09/13 - 05:30 am
Do you ride around with 45

Do you ride around with 45 people in your car? Of course, people ride for short distances and others get on and off so, with a decent system, it easily could have 500 different people ride one bus in a day. But then, stops have to be where people can access them, routes have to go where people needs them to go, and the buses have to run when people need them to run. These are often people trying to get to low paying jobs that can't afford a car and have to be a work when the boss says so. Black Friday as an off day? Businesses may be short a few workers on the busiest day of the year.

IBeDogGone 11/09/13 - 09:03 am

I think all city employees should get paid holiday time and Veterans is one day the city observes. Regular people using the bus are usually ones that do not or cannot afford a job. I feel the city should do with bus service what they are doing with other departments that are mandatory to be available for public service on Holidays. Ask for volunteers to possibly drive on the holiday and compensate them or give them the option of taking another day as their holiday. Buses maybe could run ever hour rather than every 30 minutes. Just my thoughts but there are honest people that are trying to improve their live and depend on this service.

restguy 11/09/13 - 12:14 pm
We pay hundreds of thousands

We pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for useless studies our county commission wants. Use that wasted $ to keep them running on holidays.

Dixieman 11/09/13 - 04:22 pm
Buy a car

Buy a car. Quit whining.

GiantsAllDay 11/09/13 - 05:27 pm
In Sacramento (not a big city

In Sacramento (not a big city like Atlanta, but not a small city either) the busses and trains run EVERYDAY, including holidays. Even the people who never ride appreciate it. It lets folks with minimal resources get around. And oh yeah, the busses run on natural gas and the trains run on electricity--something GA power would NEVER do--run high voltage power to augusta to run trains. Anyway back to my original point--the folks who never ride public transit appreciate the Sacramento Transit system--less cars off the road which means better traffic for them and natural gas and electricity cuts down on pollution. Hey guess what?? the bus riders and the car drivers both win!! It will take a strong mayor in Augusta to get this to happen. Probably won't happen in my lifetime. If you get a chance, take a look at this guy:
A black guy who seems to get along with everybody; n one around here ever even comments on his skin color

Sweet son
Sweet son 11/09/13 - 05:38 pm
Geraldine if you are a customer then you should be paying full

price for your transportation like the rest of us! If the Feds pay for the buses and the rest of us taxpayers make up for a losing proposition bus system then you and your riders group need to pay up!

Glad that you are getting out but we don't know if your 'riders' are going to work or spending the money 'we' have given you as an entitlement.

Hope you are working!

Pops 11/09/13 - 08:44 pm
Augusta Bus Riders Association

There is really a group called this???

JRC2024 11/09/13 - 11:44 pm
Why should they fuss. They

Why should they fuss. They are getting a bargin at the taxpayers expense. Boo Hoo

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