Athens Bus System Seeking Improvements
The city has applied for both federal and state grants that will provide $316,000 of the $560,000 total bus budget. So far, the Ohio Department of Transportation has supplied a consultant to analyze the local bus system and suggest areas for improvement. This will be an ongoing process and any changes to the system must be held in public hearings.
Two possible strategies to implement would be a fixed route system and an on demand door to door system. According to Mayor Paul Wiehl, Athens would be best off with a door to door system because of the current ridership numbers. Wiehl hopes the ridership will increase after improvements are made.
Wiehl also admitted that his office is unable to run the system and they “need better oversight.” One option for that oversight is Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, the organization that runs the successful GoBus. HAPCA responded to the Athens Request for Qualifications to run the city bus system.
Wiehl also wants to modify the contract with the providing bus contractor.
“[There is] very little incentive to increase ridership from (first name?)McDonalds’ point of view. We want to change that,” Wiehl said. McDonalds is the current contractor.
The Athens Bus System is run by contracted companies, one other process the city is currently modifying. The previous contract expired and the city released a request for proposals for future bus contractors.
The mayor also discussed possible city cooperation with The Summit bus system, University Courtyard’s system and Ohio University’s bus system.
“We expect to see some sort of dialogue going on with student senate,” Wiehl said.