Crowded bus might lead to change

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Taking the bus to work has been somewhat of a gamble for Deborah Butler.

The Augusta woman says she has been late to her job at Hampton Inn at least four times because of overcrowding on the Augusta Public Transit route that runs to Augusta Mall. The extra passengers on route 12 can delay her arrival as much as 20 minutes, she said.

"It's a lot of working people that take this bus," Ms. Butler said while returning from work on route 12 on Saturday. "It would be much better if they had another bus."

Commissioners will vote Tuesday on whether to add an additional route to relieve overcrowding. The 90-day study will determine whether a permanent bus should be added, Augusta Commissioner Jerry Brigham said.

Last year, the commission decided to cut an additional route from downtown to Augusta Mall, Mr. Brigham said.

"We had to eliminate the frequency of the route," he said. "We've got to figure out a way to make public transportation readily accessible, but we have been losing about $2 million a year in public transit."

Depending on what the study reveals, the city could have to dig deeper into its budget for public transportation.

The study would cost about $45,000. Adding the route for the whole year would cost about $250,000, Mr. Brigham said.

Mr. Brigham said he hopes to help transit director Heyward Johnson raise the funds for the transportation needs.

Commissioner Joe Bowles said he believes a 25-cent increase in bus fare could provide enough funds. Riders currently pay $1 for bus fare, Mr. Bowles said.

"We probably have one of the lowest fees for bus service in the state," Mr. Bowles said. "The increase would raise about $300,000 a year. If people want the added routes, we're going to have to find a way to pay for those routes."

Wherever the funds might come from, Mr. Johnson said the overcrowding issue needs to be resolved.

The Augusta Mall route 12 was overcrowded 114 days during the period between February 2007 and January of this year, according to data gathered by the transit system.

Bus driver James Pender said the route is crowded at some point every day. He said he hopes the commission approves the study and the additional bus further down the line.

"They need to do something," Mr. Pender said.

"I mean I've seen people come on here crying because they lost their jobs because they were late. This is a way of life for these people."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

BY THE NUMBERS

352: Average ridership for route 12 to Augusta Mall each day

114: Number of days route 12 to Augusta Mall was overcrowded between February 2007 and January 2008

$45,000: Cost for mileage, fuel costs and maintenance of the bus during the potential 90-day study

Comments (42) Add comment
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Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 02/18/08 - 01:56 am
0
0
Raise the rates, car owning

Raise the rates, car owning tax paying residents shouldn't be losing $2 million a year. We have fuel and maintenance costs too and shouldn't have to subsadize these peoples way to work.

Dark_Knight
0
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Dark_Knight 02/18/08 - 02:15 am
0
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ummmm so you were late to

ummmm so you were late to work, and you are blaming the bus driver and a overcrowded bus? Sounds like someone needs to invest in a car.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
0
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 02:29 am
0
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Awwwwee it would be better if

Awwwwee it would be better if there were two buses??? I'm so Sorry. You know what...I think it would be even better with 5 buses..or hey....how about a bus for each individual person? That way you can go where you want when you want. Just like someone who..I dunno..saves their money and buys a car. Would that help you get to work on time? Afterall what's a few million dollars between friends?

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
0
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 02:30 am
0
0
Dark Knight, you wouldn't

Dark Knight, you wouldn't happen to know Bat Man, would you?

joesimpson
0
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joesimpson 02/18/08 - 05:44 am
0
0
So they missed the bus? Were

So they missed the bus? Were there no taxi cabs available? I think a 3 or 4 dollar amount would be ok. After all if I take a taxi cab it's going to cost me in the 20 dollar range. Kinda sick of people whining about the handouts not going thier way. It's called public transportation because we pay for it. Raise the rate to add another bus. If they don't like it they can take a cab or walk!

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 02/18/08 - 05:58 am
0
0
They say there's no such

They say there's no such thing as a stupid question so here goes one. $45,000 for 90 days is $180,000 a year, where do they get $250,000 from. Is a study more effecient than normal every day operations. Maybe the extra bus can run during peak hours only.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
0
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 06:11 am
0
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Hey Augusta resident, when

Hey Augusta resident, when you figure out the accounting methods of the government at ANY level...you let me know.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
0
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 06:18 am
0
0
I think to avoid over

I think to avoid over crowding on the bus..people should fight to the death for the seats.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 02/18/08 - 06:22 am
0
0
Well why can't they just give

Well why can't they just give up a hair cut like homeowners had to do.

jayse30
0
Points
jayse30 02/18/08 - 06:53 am
0
0
Every city needs a public

Every city needs a public transportation system. The reality is that people making $8-$10 an hour cannot afford to purchase, insure, maintain and fuel a car. Paying $20 for a taxi everyday is not an option either. Lets compound this by the low population density Augusta has. Add the incompetence of the Transit Department (they cannot even figure out how to garner additional revenue by offering advertising on the buses-something every city does). I have spoken with them and they regard the Transit system as a money losing operation instead of a means to creating a better Augusta. Most transit systems are not profitable on paper. Do you honestly think giving up a haircut makes a difference? I mean I only get one haircut a month for $10. And Dark Knight - if I was making minimum wage and trying to feed and clothe my family, maintain my house or apartment and making an effort to continue to work I would blame the transit system. I guess you all would rather have these people get public assistance.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11294
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/18/08 - 07:09 am
0
0
Well, the people on public

Well, the people on public assistance have no problem paying for and maintaining their Escalades!

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 02/18/08 - 07:20 am
0
0
When Fred Russell said our

When Fred Russell said our property taxes were going up he said it would be about the price of a hair cut at a fancy salon. I know low income people that spend $40-$80 a week on their hair. I had a car when I made $7.50 an hour. I also had 3 jobs. The car I have now cost me approximately $700 a month.

jayse30
0
Points
jayse30 02/18/08 - 07:45 am
0
0
Lets put an end to the

Lets put an end to the nonsense. I sincerely doubt that anyone on public assistance is driving an escalade or paying $80 a week for haircare. In any case I was trying to stick with the facts presented in the article - Ms. Butler is commuting to the Hampton Inn. AR @$8/hr your going to bring home around $850/month. Are you suggesting people live in their cars? I do think it is not unreasonable to increase the fare by a quarter and generate an additional 300K/year. That way it wouldn't affect any of us taxpayers and provide the additional funds to increase transit service. I can't believe I just agreed with Joe Bowles........

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
0
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 08:29 am
0
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jayse30, I'll grant you that

jayse30, I'll grant you that the escalade owners on public assistance are few and far between. But you certainly can buy and fuel a car on $8-10 an hour.

GnipGnop
12765
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GnipGnop 02/18/08 - 08:31 am
0
0
I don't think it's

I don't think it's unreasonable for her to pay
6 to 8 dollars a day to ride the bus...why should my tax dollars go to everyone who moans about what they can and can't pay for. They have the same opportunities as everyone else. I applaud Ms. Butler for working but why do I as a tax payer have to pay extra taxes so she can get to work? I'm not trying to be unreasonable but where does it end? As far as someone getting on public assistance instead of working that's another thing....it's supposed to be a hand up not a hand out. I see where some people that are gonna be displaced from the government homes have been there for 30 years....30 years???? Come on now, in 30 years they haven't bettered themselves? I'd much rather they had to go to some job education classes for that check or pick up trash for that check. This is not a black or white thing this is a get off your butt and do for yourself thing. Like I said Ms Butler is doing what she can but to think she can't afford a 6 to 8 dollar a day bus ride? That's a load of bull.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
0
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 08:34 am
0
0
You know what...FORGET THAT

You know what...FORGET THAT CRAP.....How about this...WHY THE HELL IS IT MY PROBLEM IF THEY DON'T GET TO WORK ON TIME?! It's not...so why should we pay for it? We shouldn't. If they have to ride the bus and aren't there on time....take the earlier bus, ask a friend, get a bike or walk. Whatever they do..it's not our problem and we shouldn't have to pay for it.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 02/18/08 - 08:48 am
0
0
I made $8 an hour. That's not

I made $8 an hour. That's not all I did. I worked a ton of overtime, had a night job and was in the National Guard. Also, I lived paycheck to paycheck, didn't have health insurance or a retirement plan. I did that for a few years but always kept my eyes open for something better to come along.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
0
Points
He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 09:04 am
0
0
It seems to me that the war

It seems to me that the war in Iraq is the only thing liberals DON'T think tax dollars should pay for.

jayse30
0
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jayse30 02/18/08 - 09:28 am
0
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The solution suggested by Joe

The solution suggested by Joe Bowles would not cost you a penny. The people who use the transit system would carry the weight by paying an additional 25 cents a ride. I seem to recall that they are trying to pass an additional 1 cent tax to pay for additional public safety officers and transportation. AR when you were making $8/hr were you supporting a family as well? How much time did you spend with your family? People dependent on public transportation are sometimes handicapped by limited bus schedules. Lets not even talk about the fact that there is no regularly scheduled public transportation to South Augusta - home of International Paper, Proctor & Gamble, EZ GO or Olin. Poor public transportation limits peoples job opportunities. Everyone cannot work at the mall. Has anyone commenting here ever ridden APT bus? Let me add that they are usually poorly maintained and dirty as well as crowded.

jayse30
0
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jayse30 02/18/08 - 09:48 am
0
0
wyldsfam4 - $8/day =

wyldsfam4 - $8/day = $160/month. $1/day=$20/month. If you are bringing home $850 a month thats a substantial hit. He who must not be named - You can purchase and fuel a car for $8-$10/hr - are you insuring it too? One tank of gas/week=$45 or $180/month. Insurance =$75/month. Car payment $250/month. Total monthly expense =$505. Where can you live and eat for $345/month? I repeat that the solution suggested by Mr. Bowles would not impact your pocket unless you are a bus rider.

ramaspock1978
0
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ramaspock1978 02/18/08 - 09:57 am
0
0
As taxpayers, it is our

As taxpayers, it is our responsibility to properly fund a good mass transit system in our city. I know it is tradition to complain about every tax increase ever issued, but sometimes they are neccessary to improve the lives of all the citizens. A better transit system would not only aide the poor by helping them to remain employed, but also ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution. There is no reason why we cannot have a system to be proud of, and at a cost to each of us that is very minimal. For instance, Whidbey Island Washington has a transit system that goes more places and has more capacity (as well as bike mounts on the front of busses) and is completely free to all riders. All they do is charge 6/10ths of 1% on every dollar spent in the county, why couldn't we do something similar if not to pay for the thing, to at least subsidize it and improve it. If they can afford a fraction of a penny, why can't we?

Casting_Fool
1175
Points
Casting_Fool 02/18/08 - 10:41 am
0
0
Well said, ramaspock1978.

Well said, ramaspock1978. Having been one of those "poor" before working my way into solvency, I know exactly how it feels to ride that Mall bus. My son rides it almost every day to get to college. Yes, it's great to have a car now, but when I didn't have one, it was great to be able to ride the bus. When you are making so little income, it comes down to either buying food and paying for shelter, or riding "in style". Call a cab?! Gee, why don't you just put on a ski mask and rob the poor instead? Have you paid for cab lately? The main purpose of a transit system is to "ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution", helping the poor out is an added bonus. Here's hoping that God doesn't decide to reduce some of you to riding the bus out of necessity. BTW, I don't smoke, drink booze or use drugs, go to the club or party hearty on the weekends, or weigh 400 lbs. I'm a widowed father with one son, as well as a veteran. We got on the dole to help pay my wife's medical bills as she died from a rare terminal illness, and to help care for our then infant son. So don't give me that "undeserving poor" crap. While I'm glad to be off the dole, it helped a lot when we were on it.

Brad Owens
4931
Points
Brad Owens 02/18/08 - 10:53 am
0
0
I have no problem increasing

I have no problem increasing the fee by $0.25 AND giving a little more out of the general fund too. For God's sake you conservatives act as if all people who need a helping hand are loafing! Augusta doesn't even provide bus service to Fort Gordon so that our service members can get off post and spend some time and money in our city! I guess we should just kill the poor and get rid of all these leeches dragging down all you hard working greedy conservatives. It's not very Christ-like, but then again neither are you guys.

jayse30
0
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jayse30 02/18/08 - 10:54 am
0
0
Well written ramaspock1978.

Well written ramaspock1978. Unfortunately most people posting today seem to want to improve Augusta as long as they don't have to pay for it. The Chronicle recently published an article that stated that a 1 cent sales tax would raise about $32 million a year, which would go directly to public safety, transit and the emergency 911 center. Mr Bowles even suggested that property tax rebate on this tax for property owners. Mr Grantham said this would make the resolution to convoluted.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 02/18/08 - 11:13 am
0
0
She works at Hampton Inn.

She works at Hampton Inn. She can't afford a car. She probably can't afford a bicycle.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 02/18/08 - 11:21 am
0
0
brad! is that really you?

brad! is that really you? Are you really being that judgmental? What makes you think all the previous posters are conservatives and not very Christ-like? That's not very Christ-like of you and frankly out of character for the brad I thought I was acquainted with. But I do agree that something should be done to make the bus service more reliable, efficient, and available to military service personnel. It would help the overall economy of the Augusta area. If we treated the military personnel right, wouldn't more retire here and sink that money into our real estate and consumer goods? Makes sense to me.

Coach Lover
0
Points
Coach Lover 02/18/08 - 11:31 am
0
0
If the buses were clean, well

If the buses were clean, well maintained, and ran on schedule, more than just the less fortunate would consider it as a good resource. It would be much less expensive to ride the bus then to buy gas. Plus you could avoid the wear and tear on personal vehicles.

dani
13
Points
dani 02/18/08 - 11:56 am
0
0
brad.owens..It sounds to me

brad.owens..It sounds to me like they just want everyone to pay their share.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
0
Points
He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 02:02 pm
0
0
jayse30, listen...I would

jayse30, listen...I would rather not get ino a math competition with you but I know a good number of people earning $8-10 and hour, and they have cars. Yes, I assume they have insurance too....I'll ask and get back to you. It CAN be done. I'm willing to bet the person in question has at least one tv, cable, a cd player dvd player, cell phone, and a good number of other non-essentials. If these people don't find it necessary to prioritize their transportation to work...why should I?

MartinezWest Augusta
2
Points
MartinezWest Augusta 02/18/08 - 02:16 pm
0
0
What's so funny is the people

What's so funny is the people with the negative comments don't even live in richmond county. I notice that alot on the augusta chronicle. The people with all the negative comments usually don't even live in the city. They ran but want to complain all the time. You can't have it both ways.

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