The Athens Public Transit system has seen a 417 percent increase in ridership between 2011 and 2016. This year, ridership is expected to grow even more.
The Athens Public Transit system’s yearly ridership in 2011 was 62,887, and in 2016 its yearly ridership was at 325,175, according to a previous Post report. In September, Athens Public Transit broke its own monthly ridership record at 59,747 riders.
Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said the projection for this year’s ridership is about 400,000 riders.
“The cumulative growth will be around 579 percent by the end of this year when 2011 and 2017 are compared,” Jessica Stroh, Employment and Economic director at the Hocking Athens Perry Community Action Program, or HAPCAP, said.
Stroh said there are many reasons for the large growth in ridership including expanded, redesigned and streamlined services; new bus lines; more night and weekend services offered; contracts with local apartment complexes; ongoing improvements in public information and public engagement; and implementing the Bobcat Pass program in 2016.
The Bobcat Pass program allows Ohio University students, faculty and staff to ride for free, as long as they have their university-issued ID card.
Between July and December of 2016, there were 55,950 riders during that time frame, and 17 percent of those riders were using the Bobcat Pass program. This year, between January and September, 30 percent of the 291,848 total riders during that time frame were using the program.
Lauren Campbell, a freshman studying journalism, said the Bobcat Pass program “is especially helpful for students who sometimes have to travel off campus, like me.”
Dani Wolfe, an undecided freshman, also said the Bobcat Pass program makes things more convenient.
Athens Public Transit currently has six bus lines running Monday through Saturday to serve Athens, The Plains and Chauncey.