High fuel prices guzzling public transit budget

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 at six o'clock, April 3, 2008

When was the last time you caught a ride on Augusta public transit? With gas prices at an all time high some are choosing to hop aboard as the money to keep the buses running dries up. Augusta public transit is trying something they've never done before...selling space.

Karen Hicks is not driving but riding these days. "Yes, I have no other choice...I have no other choice," said Karen.

High gas prices are forcing Karen to park the car and pick up public transportation. "It's cheaper. I mean... I'm not making a whole bunch of money so I take the cheapest transportation that I can find," said Karen.

Local bus drivers say they're seeing more people with the same sentiment. "I see some unhappy faces because they have to ride the bus system. They'd rather ride their own vehicles," said James Pinder.

"I think when you see prices start getting up to 4 dollars a gallon and maybe even 5 dollars a gallon...I think you're gonna see a lot more confidence being put in public transit," said Tony Thomas.

4 dollar a gallon diesel fuel is already a reality for the local transit system, and it's guzzling the city's $300,000 budget that is expected to dry up by mid-summer. "I'm hoping that somebody comes up with something to help us," said James.

Skyrocketing gas prices have packed out buses and forced the city to find new ways to battle the budget crunch. Advertisements are coming to a bus near you. They'll create more than $5,000 in revenue a month.

"That revenue that Augusta Public Transit will help greatly in some of the issues we've been talking about here." Those issues are forcing people like Karen and many like her to climb aboard. "It's much cheaper.... trust me. I can go all over the town for 3 bucks," said Karen.

There are 12 buses on the roads each day. You should start seeing those advertisements within the next several weeks.


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