Once Augusta officials found out that Amtrak was not going to send a passenger train to Augusta, negotiations began for the next best thing.
"Our original request was to reroute the Silver Star from Columbia to Augusta to Savannah," Mayor Bob Young recalled.
"Then we said, 'How about a bus to Columbia?' They said, 'How about a bus to Savannah?'
"I said, 'I'll take it."'
That nonstop service between Augusta's bus station on Greene Street to Savannah's Amtrak terminal starts today when a Greyhound drives away at 4:30 p.m.
Previously, the trip to Savannah sometimes took more than six hours as the bus stopped at cities along the way.
The Thruway Service starting today is a direct route taking just under three hours and giving passengers enough time to catch an Amtrak train headed north toward New York City or south toward Miami.
It was the timing between the bus and train schedules that made Savannah the best choice for Augusta, Amtrak spokesman Kevin Johnson said.
"We looked at connecting the bus to Amtrak at many locations, but logistically none of them worked," he said.
In 95 cities nationwide, Amtrak has partnered with Greyhound to provide connecting service, including routes from Macon and Columbus to Atlanta.
When Amtrak officials arrive today for the inaugural bus run, they will meet with city officials to hear pitches on including more connecting routes, Mr. Young said.
"We've not abandoned Columbia," he said, "and we're going to talk to them about service from Augusta to other Amtrak cities such as Atlanta or Greenville-Spartanburg to catch the Crescent."
The Crescent passenger train line runs between New York City, Atlanta and New Orleans.
Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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