A record day on the Augusta Commission

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 19, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---It was a big day on the Augusta Commission. Downtown Augusta got a lot bigger, more city buses are set to hit Augusta streets, Dave Barbee got a second chance, and plans for the TEE center moved forward in less than one hour.

First up in our rundown: public transit.

Some say it's time for change with Augusta Public Transit. So we took our cameras and went for a ride on city buses. The cost to run the buses is about $3.50 per person. You pay one dollar.

"If you have to go up on [the price], go up on it to make everybody comfortable," said bus rider Gloria Thompkins.

860,000 people rode city buses in 2007, but that number was down from the year before because the city cut buses on some routes from two to one.

"They need to get some more buses out because I ride the bus everyday," said bus rider Brenda Wright.

The bus we caught a ride in the afternoon was full. Imagine how things are in the morning when people are hustling back and forth to work. Riders tell us it is standing room only.

"With my knee like this, it's a heck of a feeling. I have to try to find somewhere to lean," said Richard Hudson.

"It's bad service," Wright said. "That's what I feel about it. Because we're paying our money, we need to get some satisfaction about it, because they don't do nothing better. They're getting worse."

Commissioners voted to add another bus to the Augusta Mall route. It would cost $45,000 for a 90 day trial period. That money will come from the city contingency fund.

Other developments in the Commission today:

The Downtown Development Authority will get $50,000 dollars to bring more workers on board, because the Commission voted to expand the downtown boundaries west to Milledge Road, east to Bobby Jones, and south to include the Medical College of Georgia and Paine College.

You may remember Dave Barbee. His controversial email about "making downtown whiter" led to his resignation from the Augusta Housing Authority. Commissioners appointed him to the Richmond County Board of Health today.

The "TEE" Center, or Trade, Events, and Exhibition Center, also got a boost. The city can now look for a developer for the project.

All these decisions came down in less than an hour in what some are calling a record meeting time for the Augusta Commission.

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