Photo Caption: Passengers board the Go Bus.
The GoBus service that allows Athens area residents to get to and from Cincinnati and Columbus for only $10 one way is now partnering with Lakefront Lines to offer a route all the way to Cleveland.
That partnership, however, means that it will be a bit more expensive than the other two destinations, carrying a total price tag of $45 one way, according to Carolyn Conley, transportation services manager for Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, which manages GoBus.
"(GoBus) is not actually going to Cleveland," Conley said on Tuesday. "What we're doing is making better connections with Lakefront Lines, who runs from Columbus to Cleveland."
What's changed, she said, is that from the GoBus website people can purchase a ticket that goes from Athens to Columbus, and then to Cleveland if they so desire.
She said that between Columbus and Cleveland stops include West Salem (off of I-71, north of Wooster) and Akron.
She said that the plan is to continue to make better connections with Lakefront Lines so people can access various areas of the state.
"It'll be a little bit more than $10 for people to travel but a lot of destinations will be available," she said.
GoBus is a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Transportation, the city of Athens and HAPCAP to help area residents have easier, cheaper transportation to and from the big cities of Ohio.
Conley said that starting on Monday the program is adding stops at the University of Cincinnati.
"We've been quite busy during this school year," she said. "We've done very well so far. We've had extra buses on Fridays and Sundays, and we've almost been filling them both, the regular scheduled route and the extra bus we've been sending."
She said that in the next few weeks the buses themselves will get the special GoBus paint job that they've been waiting for as people have been questioning why the new buses are "still in their birthday suits."
Conley said that the new design will be rolled out during Ohio University's homecoming parade and tailgating.
"People will be able to come and see the new bus (design)," she said. "And we're going to do a kind of an open house where people can come onboard."
Three special coaches were built for the bus system and began operations in April, Conley said. They feature wireless Internet, electrical outlets at each seat, expanded legroom and seat belts for safe travel. GoBus had previously been using Lakefront Lines buses.
"I'm really excited about these new buses and the new design," Conley said. "I think it's going to be quite spectacular."
She said that local artist Kevin Morgan came up with the new design. Morgan has long been the artist for the official Athens Halloween T-shirts.
The GoBus project is being funded with stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, funneled through the Federal Transit Administration, Conley has said previously. It puts $300,000-plus annually into the local economy through services such as marketing, printing, design work, stop location service fees and other things, all using local companies, she added. ODOT contracted with Lakefront Lines in 2010 to operate the buses for $1.4 million, with an in-kind match from Greyhound Lines for $1.4 million, which was slated to fund the operation for four years.