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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workingmom
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workingmom 02/18/08 - 02:28 pm
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The people who ride public

The people who ride public transportation should be able to afford a quarter increase to get to work on time. That is a small price to pay compared to losing your job. I wonder has any of these people thought about carpooling or asking a coworker for a ride in exchange for helping cut fuel costs. I do live in CC and I'm not trying to be negative here, but it just doesn't seem fair to make others pay for someone else's lack of transportation. I have worked hard since I was old enough TO work. That's why I do not have to ride a bus to my place of employment.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 02:41 pm
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jonnneee, Ummmm I live in

jonnneee, Ummmm I live in Richmond County. Am I allowed to have an opinion now?

jayse30
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jayse30 02/18/08 - 03:43 pm
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He who must not be named -

He who must not be named - Nobody wants to raise your taxes. It is not your problem that people don't get to work on time. A 25 cent increase would cover an additional bus put on the route. THE RIDERS ARE THE ONES WHO WILL PAY. I wasn't trying to have a math competition, I was just thinking out loud, trying to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. It does concern me the various responses have assumed Ms Butler drives an escalade, does her hair for $80 a week, blames the bus driver for poor service, is to lazy to get up early enough for work, needs to take a cab everyday, needs to get another job, doesn't work enough overtime, needs to leave Gilbert Manor where she has lived for 30 years on the dole and should be carpooling. A lot of assumptions here and a lot of advice from people who probably couldn't find the nearest bus stop. The one cent tax the commission is proposing will generate more than enough money to fix the sheriffs dept, 911 call center and APT (see Sylvia Coopers column this week. Tt will pass because more for the sheriff is sacred.They even want to refund this sales tax to property owners. Can't we all just agree that APT needs help if Augusta is going to grow

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 02/18/08 - 04:57 pm
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damn if they do, damn if they

damn if they do, damn if they don't. these people aretrying to provide for their families. not everyone can afford to have a car. you want people to pay for a " doggie park " yet you have a problem with these bus riders.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 05:05 pm
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baroness, yep I did indeed

baroness, yep I did indeed misread it. I withdraw my statement and have deleted the post. My apologies.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 05:07 pm
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Hypo, nobody has a problem

Hypo, nobody has a problem with the bus riders..just with paying for more buses because they don't want to wake up a little earlier and take an earlier bus.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 02/18/08 - 05:39 pm
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Thanks He Who. appreciate

Thanks He Who. appreciate your thoughtfulness.

lilmace
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lilmace 02/18/08 - 05:46 pm
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What about he people who

What about he people who cannot drive for one reason or another? They may be handicapped or disabled, but continue to work to support themselves and their families. Don't they deserve a life like anyone else? I live in a rural area with no public transportation and depend on family because the state frowns on epileptics driving. Should we be denied a life due to no fault of our own?

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/18/08 - 06:09 pm
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baroness, No problem..the

baroness, No problem..the retraction was certanly owed. I don't know how I managed to misread that. I had just woken up from a nap when I read it. Haven't slept or felt well lately.

keysplease
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keysplease 02/18/08 - 08:20 pm
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I remember times when I was

I remember times when I was working a minimum wage job and my car broke down. I had to ride the bus or walk to work. In the city where I was living, the bus came by every half hour. Many people ride buses as a way to save money. Public transportation is vital to a growing city. People collecting checks and sitting on the porch don't ride the bus...working people do. I don't see why the increase in fare combined with advertising revenue on the buses would be such a stretch. There are many services provided by the the city, county and state that are not profitable, but are a necessary part of city life, such as parks. While I have a problem with people always having their hand out instead of trying to better themselves, I don't believe providing adequate public transportation can be considered in the same light. It's a basic public service that needs to be provided for those who want to use it. I would gladly ride the bus to my south Augusta job if I knew that I could get there without transferring 3 times or waiting for a late bus that is running behind schedule. It sure would save me some major money.

joesimpson
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joesimpson 02/18/08 - 08:45 pm
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We all have to pay our way.

We all have to pay our way. Brad owens don't lump everyone that doesn't agree with liberals as conservative christians. I vote on individuals not party lines. I am not a bible thumper either. I just believe that you help those that help themselves. Like wyldsfam4 said it's suppose to be a hand up not a hand out!!!

joesimpson
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joesimpson 02/18/08 - 11:59 pm
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Also Jayse I think you

Also Jayse I think you misread the commenter. He didn't say Ms. Butler lived in Gilbert Manor for 30 years. What he said was he couldn't believe that someone has lived in public housing for 30 years and hasn't bettered themselves.

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