Athens-Clarke County commissioners spared the popular Health Sciences bus Tuesday night when they approved a contract with the University of Georgia.
The free UGA bus runs along Prince Avenue between the Health Sciences campus and the main campus every 20 minutes from 7–1 a.m. (except on weekends, when the weekender bus runs on Prince, and when school's out and UGA goes to its intercession bus schedule and oh, hell, just go to the Campus Transit website), taking riders away from Athens Transit buses and costing ACC an estimated $30,000–$35,000.
It has become a popular service for students and non-students alike, so neighborhood residents objected when ACC tried to take it away.
The contract—which sets the reimbursement rate for UGA students and employees to ride Athens Transit for free—no longer includes a clause calling for the Health Sciences bus to function as an express shuttle that doesn't stop between the campuses. But it does include language acknowledging that future changes might be needed.
Commissioner Jerry NeSmith proposed another solution: Athens Transit taking over the route, increasing hours and frequency along Prince Avenue. Providing the service would cost $150,000, he said, but no one has measured how much money ACC would make from increased ridership.
"Everybody wins if the economics are right," he said.
Manager Alan Reddish, though, said he believes such a service would operate at a deficit.
"We'll lose more than I think we're losing now to do that," he said.
Only Commissioner Jared Bailey supported NeSmith's motion to table the contract. The commission then approved it unanimously.