Buses Benefit Students and Faculty Alike

Kelby Lamar
April 14, 2011
Problem/Solution Story

It’s 5:00 p.m.

A Snelling Dining Hall Worker sits with her legs crossed puffing on a cigarette.

The black and grey uniform that she wears is still clean, despite the fact that she has worked around food all day.

Her hair is slicked back into a ponytail, besides one small piece that hangs limply across her face.

A loud motor is heard coming around the bend.

It is the Athens Transit bus.

The woman then gets up from her post, walks onto to the bus, and presumably heads home.

This story is not uncommon nor is it unique.  Students, faculty, and Athenians alike all ride the Athens Transit buses on a daily basis.

Of course, the circumstances and the details change, but the buses provide an important source of transportation to both on and off campus locations throughout the city.

According to the Athens Clarke County website, Athens Transit has had a contracted agreement with the university since 1977 for bus rides for university students.

Starting in 2003, the agreement was amended to allow for UGA faculty and staff to ride the buses as well.

Since FY 1999, the university has annually paid Athens Transit an amount per UGA rider equal to the best discounted per trip fare available to adult non-UGA passengers of the transit system.
The current FY11 discount rate, (50 trips or more) is $1.20 per trip.  Yet the FY12 rate will be $1.27 per trip.

For FY12, which begins on July 1, 2011, the university will pay Athens Transit
$1,256, 852.

However, according to past reports, this is $83,765 more than the FY11 contract.
Of this total, $3,510 is used for “Lift” services to help support those registered with Disability Services.

Thus, the amount that is allocated for traditional route service is $1,253,342.
In the contract, the Student Government Association along with the Athens-Clarke County Government agreed, “it is not beneficial to University students to have a fee which could change dramatically year-to-year.”

It was important to come to an agreement that was beneficial and steady for both parties involved.
The two sides came to the agreement that the university would pay Athens Transit the total amount in three different payment installments.

The first payment would be 40 percent and paid in the fall semester, the second payment would be 40 percent and paid in the spring semester, and the last payment would be 20 percent and paid during the summer semester.

Yet one main reason for the rise in the contract price is that the number of students at the university has been rising along with the Athens population.  This causes an increase in the expected cost per rider.

For instance, the contract results in over 1,000,000 UGA students, faculty, and/or staff riding the Athens Transit system annually.
The contract asserts that the large number of people riding the buses helps to” reduce air pollution, lessen traffic congestion, and result in fewer pedestrian/vehicle conflicts.”

Stand at any campus location and you can see at least 15-20 students and or faculty boarding the Athens Transit buses to go to their respective locations.  The buses run every 5-10 minutes, so the numbers begin to add up at an amazing rate.

The buses run alongside the university campus buses, and thus help to prevent overcrowding as well.
In total, there are 28 different routes that the buses run on weekdays.

These range from campus destinations to the Georgia Square Mall.

Therefore, students are able to park their personal cars when they arrive to campus, and ride buses throughout the day until they are ready to go home.

This added convenience allows students to save on gas as well because it lowers the amount of driving that they have to do on a daily basis.

It is no wonder that the university has had an agreement with Athens Transit for 34 years.

The buses provide a safe and effective means for UGA students, faculty, and staff to travel to, from, and around campus while also helping to lower traffic congestion.

The next time you’re in need of a ride, wait at one of the several bus locations and they will be sure and pick you up.


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