Day passes popular with riders of new bus service

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The city's riders are learning when and where the new buses run.

Cape Girardeau's new bus service drew 330 riders during the first week, which transit director Jeff Brune said was a strong showing.

Of that number, he said, nearly 90 purchased day passes, which allow a rider to make any number of stops along the route for a single fare.

"People were really taking advantage of the day passes," Brune said.

The bus service, operated by the Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority, runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. The route loops through downtown Cape Girardeau, the south side along Sprigg Street, Linden Street and West End Boulevard and takes passengers west to shopping and medical facilities.

The low number of riders purchasing a monthly pass surprised him at first, Brune said. But many riders are only beginning to find out where the bus goes and how often it runs, he said.

"I thought people who were so used to the coupon system of 14 rides per month would take advantage of the monthly pass," he said. "But many came into the office and bought a day pass to see if it went where they needed to go."

Fares for the bus are $1.50 for the general public and 75 cents for seniors, the handicapped and children aged 6 to 12. Children under 6 ride free.

Day passes cost $4 for the general public and $2.50 for the handicapped and seniors. Monthly passes cost $35 and $17.50, respectively.

Day passes are good for unlimited travel and stopovers on a single day. Monthly passes are good for unlimited travel all month.

The bus service is still in its infancy, Brune said, adding that the transit authority is receiving numerous suggestions for improvement.

'Get on and ride'

"We have had a lot of people call back in with recommendations of consider this as a stop, consider that as a stop," Brune said. "We are taking it all under advisement."

The bus is permitted to pick up passengers only at designated stops. Drivers will allow passengers to disembark at any safe location along the route.

The bus service was designed to replace the old taxi coupon service provided through Kelley Transportation Inc. One service the transit authority dropped when it took over Kelley is free rides to church on Sunday.

"Those are the kinds of things that the Kelleys didn't get credit for," Brune said. "It is tough to give away our service for free because once you do, everybody expects it."

Ridership should increase later in the summer when Southeast Missouri State University students return, Brune said.

A marketing push to increase ridership and awareness of the bus service is also in the works using money available from the state, he said. Until then, he said, he will keep making the rounds at area agencies where large numbers of people in need of transportation seek services.

"I am still getting a lot of questions of how does this bus work," he said. "The best way to find out is get on and ride."

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 126

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