County to bus for free

September 07, 2000

County to bus for free

By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

Washington County will offer free rides on all County Commuter buses as part of the annual national Try Transit Week event from Monday to Saturday.

Last year during the free rides week, the county provided 9,470 rides at no charge, Transportation Director Kevin Cerrone said. That reflects the number of rides, not necessarily the number of riders, since some may have ridden the bus more than once, he said.

When the County Commuter offered free rides last year for the first time, ridership increased about 50 percent over the same week the previous year even though Hurricane Floyd hit that week, Cerrone said.

This year, the hope is that ridership will increase even more, he said.

The Washington County Commissioners will reimburse the Transportation Department for the $5,000 lost in fare box fees, Cerrone said.

The week will kick off with a ceremony at 8 a.m. Monday at Public Square.


The event is intended to call attention to how the community benefits when people use mass transit to get to work, shopping and school, Cerrone said.

"The week is also an opportunity for County Commuter to attract new customers, urging nonriders and very occasional riders to give public transportation a test ride," Cerrone said. "We want all of Washington County's citizens to become more aware of the service we have to offer."

The bus system, which was started in 1972, has 18 routes daily. The fleet consists of two six-passenger paratransit vans, two 12-passenger buses, three 18-passenger buses and nine 30-passenger vehicles.

All vehicles are equipped with wheelchair lifts and other features to make the system user-friendly to people who have disabilities. There are at least nine vehicles on the road daily with regular fixed-route service.

Fixed-route service hours are Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Paratransit service is provided from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Cerrone said the service provides more than 330,000 passenger trips and passes through Public Square 34,500 times each year.

"In terms of moving people, one fully loaded 40-foot bus is equal to a line of 58 moving automobiles. This would be the equivalent of a line of cars six city blocks long, stretching more than a half-mile," Cerrone said.

"Filling one bus would reduce traffic congestion by that much," he said.

For more information about County Commuter, call 791-3047.

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