Updated Mon, Nov 11, 2013 9:48 am
The city of Athens has re-designated Hocking Athens Perry Community Action to administer the city’s public transit system and says it's happy with some recent changes the organization has made to the bus system.
HAPCAP took over administration of Athens Public Transit last year and has seen ridership grow. Last week, Athens City Council approved an ordinance to allow HAPCAP to continue to operate the system.
Athens Public Transit underwent some changes in August including extended hours, expanded routes and bus stops, a new main bus stop on Mulberry Street near Baker University Center and a more modern look to the buses. Athens Transit also reduced its fare.
Michael Lachman is the transportation services manager for Athens Public Transit and said that the bus system saw a record-shattering 47,634 riders in October.
According to Lachman, the transit system had seen a record high ridership in early 2012 with about 6,000 riders per month. However, he said that ridership took a big hit in the fall of 2012 when Ohio University’s academic calendar changed from quarters to semesters.
In May 2012, Athens Public Transit also began providing buses to the Summit at Coates Run — a large student apartment complex off Richland Avenue. Lachman said the transit system sees about 20,000 riders from the apartment complex a month.
In September, Athens Public Transit saw a ridership of 5,494, which does not include Summit riders. That number of non-Summit riders jumped to 10,587 in October. The 47,634 record includes Summit riders.
Other factors that led to the high number of passengers in October were the Athens Halloween Block Party and an 11-day period between Ohio University’s Homecoming and the block party where rides were made free.
According to Lachman, last month’s record ridership was 5,205 more riders than in October 2012.
“This is more ridership than many rural bus systems put up in an entire year, but I think we may see even bigger growth ahead,” Lachman said. “With Ohio University here, Athens is a pretty rosy market for expanding bus ridership, provided it is marketed well to the community.”
Athens City Councilwoman Michele Papai praised HAPCAP and Lachman’s administration of the city’s transit system.
“We have a very ambitious gentleman who runs the program, Michael Lachman and you’ve seen new changes and routes and there’s also been more stops added and routes,” she said. “So I would say, in my point of view as a councilperson looking at the improvements that have been made over this last year with our public transportation, I’m thrilled. They’ve done a great job and are very active with the community.”