Athens Public Transit users will be glad to hear that the bus system is offering free rides to all riders this Thursday as part of a statewide celebration of public transportation.
The special offer on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, is in recognition of Ohio Loves Transit Day, according to press releases issued by the Ohio Public Transit Association. The OPTA orchestrates the celebration in an effort to draw attention to the value public transportation has on the lives of Ohioans.
Events and activities are planned for the entire week, including transit representative visits with state legislators.
Locally, APT and GoBus, both managed by Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Program (HAPCAP), are each offering specials to riders, and the city of Athens and Ohio University are also participating. GoBus riders can receive $2 off of tickets purchased between now and Feb. 15 using promo code GBLUV19, according to a flier on the GoBus website.
The free rides being offered by APT are sponsored by the city of Athens, according to a HAPCAP press release. In addition to those specials, community members can visit OU’s Baker Center for a meet and greet with Ohio transportation officials Thursday morning and afternoon.
“Ohio Loves Transit day is a celebration of public transportation across the state of Ohio,” Jessie Schmitzer, Athens County mobility management coordinator for HAPCAP, explained in an email Friday. “In Athens County, we have multiple providers that community members rely on for access to medical facilities, employment opportunities, educational and training facilities, healthy food options, social service agencies, quality-of-life services, and much more. Public transportation ensures equal access to opportunity for everyone and makes communities stronger.”
According to an OU press release, students, faculty, staff and community members can stop by the first floor of Baker Center from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to meet with representatives from OU’s Transportation and Parking Services, GoBus and APT.
“Information on local and regional transit resources, routes and connections will be available, and visitors are encouraged to write notes of thanks to their favorite transit drivers,” the release states. Prizes also will be given away randomly throughout the day to campus transit riders, OU Transportation and Parking Services Director Tia Hysell said in the release.
GoBus Manager Mathew Roberts said in the OU release that “Ohio Loves Transit activities are just the tip of the iceberg in a well-coordinated effort among local and regional transportation providers to advocate for more resources to support the dire state of Ohio’s public transit systems.”
An OPTA release states that representatives of Ohio’s 61 rural and urban transit systems will be in Columbus this Tuesday and Wednesday “speaking to legislators about the need to increase state support for transit.
“Since 2002, the General Revenue Fund allocation for public transit has declined by 85 (percent),” the release said. “... According to OPTA, the current level of state funding will make it difficult, if not impossible, for Ohio’s systems to meet existing and future demand for service.”
According to the HAPCAP release, APT provided 508,572 rides in the community in 2018, a 16 percent increase from 2017. At the state level, “over 3 million Ohioans rely on public transportation every weekday – primarily for work trips,” the release states.
“Transit authorities are the first to step up in times of crisis, such as offering free rides for federal government employees during the recent shutdown,” Roberts said in the OU release. “Public transit is a necessary and valuable public service.”
General tips for riding Athens Public Transit:
• All line schedules and routes are on the APT website at www.athenstransit.org/full-map-and-schedule/.
• The Athens County mobility coordinator, Jessie Schmitzer, is available to help individuals or organizations plan your trips, read schedules or provide other travel training; contact her at 740-594-8499 or email@example.com.
• Vehicle location technology is available for you to see exactly where a bus is located using a smartphone or desktop computer. Check out the athenstransit.org/tracker for more details.
• Trip planning is available on the website athenstransit.org/trip-planner using origin and destination addresses to help riders plan what route is best for their trip.
• All vehicles are ADA accessible and can also transport bicycles.
• With expanded evening hours, routes through Athens, The Plains and Chauncey, and marked stop locations, riding Athens Public Transit is relatively simple.