Published Tue, Nov 20, 2012 4:49 pm Dateline
A transportation company that hauls college students to and from four Ohio cities is facing unforeseen challenges as a result of its popularity.
The GoBus, which offers inexpensive bus rides from Athens to Marietta, Columbus or Cincinnati and makes stops in several other cities on each route, has served more than 37,000 people this year.
Carolyn Conley, GoBus manager, said this is more passengers than the GoBus ever prepared for when first launching in 2010, which has required the company to search for solutions to address the problem of overcrowding.
Buying tickets online in advance does not always guarantee the rider a spot on the bus, depending on how many walk-on, cash-paying passengers the driver chooses to accept at each stop.
"The way back it was overcrowded and when we were stopping at extra places, they had to have people wait while they called another bus in," said Lukas Kmetz, an Ohio University student and GoBus passenger. "The tickets are ordered online so they should know how many people are supposed to be seen."
Conley said Hocking Athens Perry Community Action hopes to have a solution to the overcrowding issue by the end of the year.
The GoBus charges $10 one way to Columbus and Cincinnati and $5 one way to Marietta. An average driver only saves about $2.50 riding the GoBus to Columbus or Marietta one-way. However, when traveling to Cincinnati, the average driver would save about $15 by riding the GoBus.
While gas prices continue to rise, Conley says the price of riding the bus will stay the same.
"We actually just spoke with the state about our ticket price and they are not interested in seeing us raise our prices," she said.
Federal and state funds fully support the operation of the GoBus, and tickets only help off-set the Ohio Department of Transportation's cost.
For freshmen college students, who are typically not allowed to have a car on campus, or for older students who don't have cars, the ride home on the weekends or to the airport is invaluable.
"I go home every other weekend and the GoBus is just a lot easier," OU student Dakota Hyde said. "It's quick and cheaper."
In Cincinnati and Columbus, passengers can make transfers to other bus services,which opens the door for riders to take a bus to multiple locations in the state and region.