News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Free bus rides for ACC employees?

Perhaps, if a proposal by several commissioners moves ahead.

This idea is definitely leading Athens in the right direction- public transit will increasingly become a feature of America's livable cities. Transit-oriented development is development that accommodates walking, cycling, historic preservation, mixed-use, and all the other features people routinely identify as markers of a higher quality of life.

It might make more sense to offer a deep discount instead of a totally free pass, however. Plenty of other populations have as much of a claim to free bus service as people employed in public service. Why not give free passes to residents of public housing or to people using the bus during high traffic times of day?

The biggest issue facing public transit use in Athens is how to provide a level of service that most people will find equivalent to private automobile use. Most people simply will not ride the bus unless it is as convenient as driving alone. Buses need to run every 20 minutes or so, and they really ought to run in both directions on each route. Night service and full weekend service would be ideal. The problem, of course, is how to pay for this expansion of a needed public service.

For several years, we have advocated for a T-SPLOST, a small sales tax dedicated exclusively to public transportation infrastructure, operations, and maintenance. Gov. Perdue has proposed a version of the T-SPLOST, but it wouldn't be voted on until 2012, meaning no funds would be collected until the following year.
We don't have time for these delays. We're already 30 years behind where we should be with public transportation. Perdue's proposal is certainly better than nothing, but it really needs to be on the 2010 ballot.

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