More riders on southern Calhoun County bus service
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Nov 17, 2012 | 3608 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ridership on the local bus system continues to grow, according to data collected by the Calhoun County-area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

At the organization’s monthly meeting Friday, East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission principal planner Jack Plunk said fares collected on the county’s fixed-route bus system rose by nearly 12,000, to 117,740 for the fiscal year ending in September.

Fares collected in October also showed a significant increase, with 11,074 riders compared to 9,757 in the previous year.

“You can see with those numbers, we’re likely to set another record again this year,” Plunk said.

The fixed-route system, run by the planning and development commission and linking Oxford, Hobson City, Anniston and Weaver, has seen an increase in ridership of more than 72 percent since fiscal year 2005, when it collected 68,276 fares.

Weaver City Councilman Mike Warren, a candidate to join the Metropolitan Planning Organization next month, said besides factors like the economy, he believes the system continues to grow because of its ability to adapt based on customer feedback and requests.

“We try to keep the buses going to spots on an hourly basis,” he said. “As long we keep that consistency, we try to accommodate and make tweaks.”

Changes in recent months included adding stops near the McClellan medical mall, he said.

Numbers for the Americans with Disabilities Act Paratransit Service were also up in October. The service, which requires an application by riders for “curb-to-curb” service, collected 1,838 fares last month over the 2011-12 fiscal year average of 1,766.

In other business, the organization:

• Passed a resolution to increase budgeting to a resurfacing project of Mountain Street in Jacksonville from $22,828 to $38,457. The project is expected to get under way in the next two months now that the Jacksonville State University football season has ended. Mountain Street runs past the school’s stadium.

• Asked members to advertise the Clear Plan 2013 survey available on clearplan2030.org. Any resident in the county can fill out the survey, which is collecting feedback to build an improved plan for the transportation and infrastructure in the county.

• Discussed upcoming Alabama Department of Transportation-approved projects. Plunk said he believes three new projects will begin before January, including fixing a bridge on West 64th Street and adding traffic signals on Lenlock Lane in Anniston.

The next meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization is scheduled for Dec. 20 at 10 a.m.

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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