Commissioners say Augusta's transit service could be getting the boot by January

Augusta transit
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The private company hired to run Augusta's transit service may be getting kicked to the curb. Mobility has come under fire several times this year, and many commissioners are saying they've run out of chances to get it right.

Commissioner Alvin Mason says, "I know that it's the Christmas season, and it's a time for giving, but it's also time for us as a city to receive and for Mobility to go."

Mason, along with several of his fellow commissioners, say they are tired of being taken for a ride by Mobility Transit, and it's time to take action.

"We got to make a decision and we're prepared to do that," Commissioner Corey Johnson said.

He spoke about the transit company's ongoing struggles Wednesday morning on The Inside Story on 96.3.

"I don't think they really know how to operate a transit system. From what I hear, they have a cab company background, transit in this form is different," Johnson said.

"You get a bus pass that's supposed to be for seven days, and the bus doesn't even run on Sundays," Mason said.

Johnson says he expects the commission to take action against the transit service in a matter of weeks.

"Something will happen the first of the year," he said.

But not every commissioner is on board with kicking the company to the curb less than a year into their five-year contract.

Outgoing Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles says it has saved the taxpayers about $400,000 this year.

"For those who say, oh it's going to cost us money, there's not a single transportation system in the country that is a profit-making organization, and they're not meant to be profit making," Mason said.

The mayor pro tem argues many of the issues with Mobility's service, like the limited service in south Augusta, stem from a lack of direction from the commission.

"We told and dictated the routes to Mobility, and that's a commission issue, not a Mobility issue," Joe Bowles said.

And if commissioners like Johnson and Mason have their way, that "something" will be finding a new company to run the city's transit system come January.

"They can give Mobility 90 days notice without any cause, and we would separate their contract with us at that point," said
City Administrator Fred Russell.

"All it takes is a minimum of six votes to make that happen, and I'm hoping with the new commission that we'll get everybody on board," Mason said.

Commissioners say if they get enough votes to terminate Mobility's contract, they will look at a couple of options, including going back to in-house service or researching other private companies to handle transit.

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