Originally created 09/12/99

Week to promote buses



There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but Richmond County residents can get a free ride Monday on the public bus.

As part of national "Try Transit" Week, rides on all bus rides on the Augusta public transit system Monday are free. People can ride as often as they'd like.

Other activities for the week include rides by Mayor Bob Young, who'll be a passenger on some of the buses, handing out passes for a month's worth of free rides. The mayor's rides haven't been scheduled, so no one knows which buses he'll be on.

"I'm kind of like the mystery shopper," he said with a laugh. "You don't know where I'll show up."

The Transit Week activities are an effort to increase public recognition of the bus system and to encourage people to ride, said Heather Jenia of the transit department.

"We still have people who say `Oh, there's a bus system?"' she said.

"There are a lot of people who see a bus and automatically think Greyhound or some other over-the-road travel, not travel inside the city."

"It's always important to support public transportation," Mr. Young added. "For many people, it's the only affordable method of transportation they have. Plus, our subsidy in the transit department is about $1.5 million a year; we want to encourage ridership to get rid of that deficit."

As part of its annual transportation program, the city has applied to the federal government for support of a ridership survey, which would not only talk to those who do ride the bus, but also to people who don't, in an effort to find out how to encourage them to use the bus system, Mr. Young said.

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Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com.