Updated Thu, Feb 27, 2014 1:52 pm
By Beth Mishler
When it comes to transportation options for persons living with disabilities in Athens and the surrounding areas, there are several options (some of which literally have the word ‘fun’ built right into their names)—the key is early reservation and preparation.
For those with primarily local needs, there’s Athens On Demand Transit (AOD). Transportation Services Supervisor, Cliff Warren, says the service has only grown in popularity since it began in early November of 2012. Funded by a HAPCAP grant, the service was slow to catch on at first. “We averaged approximately 30 rides a week in 2012,” he said, “and we have over 400 people registered to use our services.” At present, they’re up to 130-140 rides a week.
There are two things a person must do in order to utilize AOD’s transportation services: First, users of the service MUST register. Registration is a quick and painless process—it’s one time only, and you can fill out the online form on AOD’s website, or call the office and request a form be sent to you by mail. “We really stress that people do need to pre-register,” Warren said. That way, each person who uses the service is already in the system. The second thing people should do before calling AOD is realize that it’s best to remember that short notice rides are more cumbersome to accommodate, so immediate rides are not always guaranteed. Short notice rides are entirely possible—they’re just not a certainty. That’s why it’s best to call ahead. If you just need to run to the grocery store or bank, a quick pick up/ride might be possible, depending on their current schedule(s).
Perhaps the best part of AOD Transit is the price—it’s only $2.00 per ride! AOD also asks that it’s passengers be ready 15 minutes prior to the scheduled pick-up time.
The Hours of Operation for Athens On Demand Transit are: Mondays-Fridays 8-7:30 p.m. and Saturdays 10-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays are AOD Transit’s busiest days of the week, so remember the importance of planning ahead.
For those who seek adventure, and out-of-state escapes, there’s the FunBus. Specializing in all sorts of entertainment travels and options, from casino treks to overnight trips to the beach, its headquarters are located in Lancaster, but the FunBus takes its passengers pretty much wherever they want to go.
They regularly schedule trips to The Wilds, NASCAR races, Reds & Indians games as well as other sporting events, and they feature very cool red eye trips to both NYC and D.C. “Our red-eye to New York City is extremely popular,” said David Frick, a Marketing executive with FunBus. What’s the typical red-eye trip, you ask? The NYC red-eye FunBus experience has passengers leave on a Thursday evening, sleep on the bus overnight, and arrive at a travel plaza in NYC the next day with the entire day to explore and cruise the city, before heading back that same night. The trip costs around $100 round trip (not including the cost of a hotel). FunBus has trips to Niagara Falls, Williamsburg, PA, and Vermont slated for this year, among other locales, and should you want to reserve their services for your own event, you can do that.
Private charters are available, and if you have an upcoming wedding, corporate event, or a bachelor/bachelorette party you’re throwing, FunBus can meet your transportation needs so that persons with and without disabilities have an inclusive and satisfying travel experience. And, if you’d like, FunBus can even help you plan your travel itinerary. “We welcome the opportunity to work with groups of all kinds,” Frick said. FunBus is open 7 days a week, and May is their busiest month, so calling ahead, as with AOD Transit, can be key.
There’s also the GoBus, which has a quad-city connection of sorts, with regular and featured routes to and from Athens, Columbus, Marietta, and Cincinnati. With the aim of connecting those who live in rural areas to more urban settings, the GoBus purposefully connects its routes to other Greyhound bus routes, to give their customers greater accessibility to more locations and more diverse travel options.
Persons with disabilities should call as far in advance as possible to make arrangements. Their rates vary depending on your destination.
Learn more about all three transportation services by giving them a call or checking out at their websites:
Athens On Demand Transit (740) 597-2404
GoBus 888-95-GOBUS (888-954-6287)