News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, May 22, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The company running Augusta's bus service is suing the city. Mobility wants to get its contract renewed and stop anyone else from getting it, but city leaders say this won't stop them from going forward with their plans.
"I don't believe that this will stop us from moving forward," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.
Mason is the one who made the motion back in February to terminate mobility's existing contract and give them a 90-day notice. It passed with a 9-to-1 vote.
"We need a transit system that addresses the needs of Augusta-Richmond County. This has nothing to do with Mobility," Mason said.
"The questions now become funding and how we go with those particular operations," said City Administrator Fred Russell.
Mobility's contract still has wheels until July 31. The city is in the process of finding a company to come in and take over. In March, nearly a dozen bus companies expressed interest getting in the driver's seat and expanding service as well.
Bus rider Jasmyn Brown welcomes that news.
"No bus stops at the YMCA on Wheeler Road, and with my son, I can't cross a major highway," Brown said.
She depends on the bus to take her son, Dillan, everywhere they need to go. Right now, that's a problem.
"I go to church a lot and no buses run on Sundays. Everybody has to find rides to church," Brown said.
"We have a chance to change that contract and that's exactly what we need to do. We have to address soldiers being able to travel, south Augusta having transportation and everyone being able to get back and forth," Mason said.
Changes that may have to wait while the city deals with this new lawsuit.
The 17-page suit claims Augusta commissioners did not follow the Georgia Open Meetings Act because they say the city first discussed terminating the current contract in a closed-door meeting.
Mobility is asking a judge to reinstate the current contract and wants the city to pay for all of its legal fees.