AUGUSTA, Ga (WRDW / WAGT) – Breakdowns, leaky roofs and shoddy rides. These are just a few of the complaints from those of you who use Augusta’s public transport.
Each year, the cost of maintaining Augusta’s bus fleet increases, but the number of passengers does not. Which means they charge less bus tickets. In October 2020, they completed 56,256 races. While in October, they only gave 37,406 races. That’s a 33 percent drop.
The deputy director of public transport says the cancellation of bus fares played a role in the high numbers for 2020. But despite this, the number of bus fares they are collecting now is not enough to cover the high cost of bus maintenance. Responding to concerns is therefore a challenge.
“Transportation is very important, it’s a necessity,” said Israel Prince, bus driver.
Bikers like Israel use the bus daily and for the most part enjoy the ride.
“Well, like I said, I can see the sites, meditate, reflect,” he said.
But a few improvements wouldn’t hurt.
“It really stops too soon and it starts too late,” Prince said. “Just the seats and Sunday, those seats are so small. I think they just need to level up.
Complaints about Augusta’s transit made their way through the committee chambers. This week, leaders heard concerns about the age of buses, leaky roofs and access for people with disabilities.
“And they don’t keep the area clean. And I think Augusta could do better. We are the 3rd largest in Georgia so we should be doing better than what we are doing, ”said April Dunn, bus driver.
But doing better comes at a price.
‘In order to improve the service, in order to expand the service. We need more buses and we need more reliable buses, ”said Oliver Page, deputy director of Augusta Transit.
Every year, public transit receives federal funding based on population. According to census data, the county’s population has grown by less than 1 percent each year recently. So they don’t get much more money. However, the costs increase so much that it falls outside the city’s budget.
“Every year costs go up, fuel costs go up, wages and salaries costs go up, and these are often increasing at a faster rate than the population,” Page said.
The aim is to switch to all zero emission buses from next year and also to get some new diesel buses. The infrastructure bill, the CARES law, and federal grants will likely cover these costs.
“It has always helped me to tell you the truth,” Prince said.
Currently, Augusta has 16-year-old buses running our streets. The average lifespan is 12 to 14 years. The manager says the buses are serviced every four to six weeks.
The infrastructure bill requires that a certain amount be spent on public transport. It is not yet known how much of the 25 million Augusta allocated will go to Augusta transit.
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