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Fort Gordon bus route proposed

Officials say plan would connect soldiers to city

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 7:48 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 6:29 PM
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 Editor's note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported the number of jobs expansion of the Army Cyber Command might bring.

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Quentarus Brown, the general manager of Augusta Public Transit, said soldiers at Fort Gordon often pack five to a taxi to get to the mall.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Quentarus Brown, the general manager of Augusta Public Transit, said soldiers at Fort Gordon often pack five to a taxi to get to the mall.

Quentarus Brown, the general manager of Augusta Public Transit, has seen the lengths Fort Gordon soldiers go to in order to make a weekend trip to the mall or enjoy a night on the town.

“They pack five to a taxicab,” Brown said. “It’s ridiculous that’s what they have to do.”

On Tuesday, the Augusta Commission gave city administrators permission to study a three-phase approach to public transit that Brown’s staff developed to increase ridership and revenue for taxpayers.

The first step of the plan is for the city to spend $321,441 annually to create an hourlong Monday-through-Saturday route that would connect Fort Gordon to Augusta Mall.

After that, the proposal involves spending $561,886 to add a spare bus to Augusta Mall and Washington Road loops in an effort to cut the two service’s 80-minute route time in half.

The final phase would include paying an additional $820,000 to increase morning and evening hours and expand service to south Augusta and the Doug Barnard Parkway flea markets.

“To me, it’s not expense. It’s an investment,” Brown said of the plan, which has been in the works for more than a month. “Regardless of if we approve this measure now or later, these are service areas we will need to be addressed eventually.”

Though the new Fort Gordon route will include four stops on federal property, it is unclear whether the Army would share some of the costs of the service increases.

Fort Gordon spokesman J.C. Mathews said the post’s garrison command will discuss details of the plan with city officials Friday.

Mathews said talks of a Fort Gordon route, which would include stops at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Barton Field, the post exchange and the visitor center, have ebbed and flowed for much of the past decade.

This year, discussions intensified when District 4 Augusta Commission member Alvin Mason announced his run for mayor. Two–thirds of Mason’s district includes Fort Gordon, a 55,000-acre Army post that, records show, has a population of 15,000 service members, a residential population of 2,800 families and an annual economic impact of $1.4 billion on the region.

As a signal soldier who began his 20-year Army career at Fort Gordon in 1984, Mason said the lack of a route connecting the post to Augusta is very dissatisfying, especially with talks that the post might become the next home to the Army Cyber Command, bringing 1,500 jobs to the area.

“It has created a great inconvenience for the people who defend our freedoms,” Mason said. “We need to take better care of them.”

On Monday, more than a half-dozen soldiers who were visiting the mall and the surrounding retail areas declined to comment on the issue because the proposal was not final. Mathews said he believes the addition of another route would be welcomed.

“As a community, we are very grateful the city is trying to make this happen,” Mathews said. “We think it (is) a great opportunity for service members stationed at Fort Gordon to better take advantage of all the city has to offer. It also could make it easier the 47,000 retirees who rely on the installation for medical care and other entitlements.”

Mathews said any passengers who do not have permission to access Fort Gordon would have to exit the bus at the post’s visitors center.

Mason said he hopes to make the plan a reality, if anything to improve the quality of life for the area’s military personnel.

“They should be able to see our city and enjoy their time here without having to spend an arm and a leg to do it,” he said.

Comments (19) Add comment
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fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 11/19/13 - 08:37 pm
5
3
Great idea.
Unpublished

Will never happen.

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 11/19/13 - 09:09 pm
7
7
Terrific!!!!

1. Additional money being spent around the county
2. Less carbon monoxide in the air
3. Increased foot traffic
4. Higher quality of life
5. Makes the city more business friendly

1 Happy Dawg
16
Points
1 Happy Dawg 11/19/13 - 10:14 pm
8
2
My thoughts

Government will be competing with private enterprise

Those same 5 guys will be the only passengers on a 50 passenger bus that costs 10 bucks a mile to operate...

Has anyone ever seen a city bus that had more than 5 passengers???

dichotomy
36258
Points
dichotomy 11/20/13 - 12:12 am
6
4
Is this part of the reason

Is this part of the reason they want to raise our property taxes?

The Army will be downsizing as the wars end. There will be much fewer lower ranking trainees that don't have cars. All this "expanded" bus route crap is a big money loser. All bus routes should be on a break even basis where the fares pay the costs.

seenitB4
93676
Points
seenitB4 11/20/13 - 06:20 am
5
2
More security needed

Just saying.....don't fool yourselves ....young men like to have some fun....

balloon2008
88
Points
balloon2008 11/20/13 - 07:07 am
3
5
No buses needed

Why don't they run the buses in South Augusta and to North Augusta
where people beg for service! Can you imagine how long the line of cars will be waiting to get on Fort Gordon while they check the Ids of all the people on the bus and do the security check of the bus. It will be lined up to Gordon Hwy!

seenitB4
93676
Points
seenitB4 11/20/13 - 07:23 am
6
3
and to this

The final phase would include paying an additional $820,000 to increase morning and evening hours and expand service to south Augusta and the Doug Barnard Parkway flea markets.

When you move section 8 from city to county you have to provide bus service....costing more & more to move folks around....$$$

Riverman1
90523
Points
Riverman1 11/20/13 - 07:49 am
4
2
Wrong Route

It doesn't take that long for buses to get through the gate now. They have Trailways or whatever it's called now going in and out with civilian riders on. The ones without ID have to wait at the gate for the bus to come back. But it appears to me most soldiers want to get to the Wash. Rd.-I 20 area. Maybe the bus should be going there instead of the mall.

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 11/20/13 - 08:21 am
3
9
Progressive!!

The number of people who use the system daily is around 3,000 people in Richmond County. The number can easily reach 6,000 if the right changes were implemented.

The main job of public transportation revolves around connecting the residents to the employment centers.

The objective consist of attracting new private investment and not the system producing revenue...

The residents of Fort Gordon want to spend their leisure time at the mall, CBD, Augusta Exchange, and Washington rd.

internationallyunknown
4631
Points
internationallyunknown 11/20/13 - 08:54 am
5
3
South Augusta

needs a bus line BEFORE Fort Gordon.

Only in Augusta.

soapy_725
43949
Points
soapy_725 11/20/13 - 08:57 am
0
0
Maybe Azziz and the Boardmans can move the GI's to the OLD MILL
Unpublished

complex for housing and training.

soapy_725
43949
Points
soapy_725 11/20/13 - 08:58 am
0
0
Sell everything to the government and tax citizens to maintain.
Unpublished

Sounds like a $$$ making plan.

Little Lamb
47955
Points
Little Lamb 11/20/13 - 09:04 am
7
3
Not enough riders

1 Happy Dawg nailed it. This $400,000 yearly expenditure for a Fort Gordon bus line will have empty buses 95% of the time, emitting carbon monoxide for no riders. Totally asinine.

Dixieman
16580
Points
Dixieman 11/20/13 - 10:46 am
7
2
Dixieman's guaranteed and magic solution

Rather than bus the soldiers into town, run a special party bus with beer and strippers out to the Fort! It will be popular AND profitable!!
(I remember when I was stationed out there and the reasons why I and my buddies wanted to go into town).

itsanotherday1
46891
Points
itsanotherday1 11/20/13 - 11:13 am
6
3
Instead of full sized buses

Instead of full sized buses that are 90% empty, why doesn't the transit system use vehicles like those used at big airports to shuttle people to hotels and parking garages?

As to Fort Gordon, I don't see much need for frequent stops, as the soldiers have limited opportunities and/or desire to get off base. However, I do approve of having some type of public transportation available to get them about town; they have money to spend too.

thauch12
6975
Points
thauch12 11/20/13 - 11:53 am
3
4
No!!!

"The first step of the plan is for the city to spend $321,441 annually to create an hourlong Monday-through-Saturday route that would connect Fort Gordon to Augusta Mall."

...tell me that this is a cruel joke. Service 6 out of 7 days is roughly 313 days a year. Considering the bus is going to run for ONE HOUR per day, that means this waste of taxpayer money will cost over $1000 PER HOUR to operate. Unless these buses are covered in gold or they're paying Elvis to drive, this is absolutely ridiculous! There's no way this is going to be profitable or even break even...

Plus, what's the point of having a one hour shuttle? By the time one gets on the shuttle to and from the mall, that won't even leave enough time to eat something in the food court before it's time to turn around. Either let the Army pay for this or the folks who live on Fort Gordon will have to find another way to get off base. Besides, cabs are dirt cheap in Augusta and the mall is not that far from Fort Gordon.

Sweet son
11083
Points
Sweet son 11/20/13 - 01:53 pm
1
4
Wouldn't it be grand if countyman costed out his 3000 passengers

a day by what is being spent in 'our' money to basically give the free rides. Rider pays $1 and taxpayers probably pay $5 for the rides.

Not accurate figures but I would like to know! And no way will his estimate of 6000 a day happen!

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 11/20/13 - 01:56 pm
3
5
Makes no sense!!!

How can you expect to attract private businesses with inadequate public transportation?

The people who built the $172 million Starbucks and $50 million ADP buildings have said our public transportation system needs to be expanded.

Many of the comments above prove why Augusta doesn't have much of a business community.

internationallyunknown
4631
Points
internationallyunknown 11/20/13 - 03:15 pm
3
3
^

...so it's OUR fault??? Riiiight......

Little Lamb
47955
Points
Little Lamb 11/20/13 - 04:44 pm
2
1
Power

Yes, we Augusta Chronicle commenters are holding the business community back and the whole CSRA from reaching its potential.

Pops
12419
Points
Pops 11/20/13 - 08:24 pm
3
0
Wait a minute

"The people who built the $172 million Starbucks and $50 million ADP buildings have said our public transportation system needs to be expanded." These are supposedly comments for these employers who are supposed to be providing very high paying jobs....if this were true the employees should be able to afford their own transportation. I don't think Starbucks or ADP ever made those statements.

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