APT bus

Athens Public Transit buses will start hourly runs to Albany and Nelsonville this August. Provided photo.

 

Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP) will cover greater ground in 2020, as a result of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s announcement that it’s doubling funding for transportation programs in Hocking and Athens counties.

This is largely due to Ohio’s gasoline sales tax increase implemented in July of 2019, according to a news release, and will mean that the current Athens-Albany-Nelsonville bus line will continue through 2020 (it had initially just been a six-month pilot program).

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to expand access for more residents of Athens and Hocking Counties,” Kelly Hatas, HAPCAP’s executive director, said in a news release. “We are grateful to ODOT for all of their hard work in securing and allotting these funds to increase rural transportation in Ohio.”

The statewide increase on the gas tax – approved by the Ohio Legislature and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine earlier this year – is set to bring in an extra $865 million a year in additional gas-tax revenue.

The NEWS has previously reported that Athens County is expected to receive between $1.3 million and $1.4 million more annually as a result of the gas-tax increase. According to a spreadsheet released by ODOT, the city of Athens is expected to receive $178,125 more from gas-tax revenue in Fiscal Year 2020 due to the increase, and Athens Township is expected to receive $71,036 more in FY 2020.

Athens Public Transit and Athens On Demand Transit will see a 155% increase in state and federal funding, the release said. While the total 2019 award amounted to $982,948, 2020 will bring more than $2.5 million in funds for both transportation programs.

Athens On Demand will expand to serve all community members in addition to seniors and people with disabilities, the release said. Aging vehicles will be replaced, and new vans will be added to accommodate new passengers. Athens On Demand is a countywide system serving all municipalities.

Athens Public Transit’s fleet will expand, including the addition of a 35-foot bus similar to those used in urban transportation systems. Line 7 serving Nelsonville and Albany will be funded through 2020.

“I’m excited to see all of these changes,” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said in the release. “But I’m especially excited to see the funding of Line 7, which has already opened so many doors for residents of Athens County.”

Line 7 was originally a pilot project launched through local funds, intended to meet the transportation needs of residents in Nelsonville and Albany. Athens Public Transit has grown significantly since 2011 with a 600% increase in ridership. In 2018 alone, Athens Public Transit served more than 500,000 riders.

Thanks to the increase in funding, the release said, Logan Public Transit will expand to serve all of Hocking County. Prior to this increase in funding, LPT only served the city of Logan and the villages of Haydenville, Rockbridge, Carbon Hill and Union Furnace.

In 2019, Logan Public Transit was awarded $294,096, but in 2020 it will receive $623,631. This is a 112% increase that will allow all Hocking County residents to take Logan Public Transit’s curb-to-curb service to work, school, doctor’s appointments, and more, according to the release.

Details surrounding the expansion, including dates and service hours, will be announced closer to the end of the year, the release said. For questions regarding transportation options in Athens and Hocking Counties, call Jessie Schmitzer, Athens Mobility Manager, at 740-589-3790 or email jessie.schmitzer@hapcap.org.

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