Ever since the University of Georgia started operating a free bus that runs between the Health Sciences Campus in Normaltown and the main campus, Athens Transit has been struggling with lost ridership and revenue as riders opted to take the free bus that runs every 20 minutes rather than wait for the one that comes once and hour and costs $1.60.
No more. Starting July 1, the Health Sciences bus won't stop on Prince Avenue and won't pick up passengers who aren't UGA students or employees.
The Athens-Clarke County Commission is voting Tuesday, May 6 on renewing its agreement with UGA. The annual contract sets the rate at which UGA reimburses Athens Transit for providing "free" rides to UGA students and employees. (That rate will be $1.41 per boarding, which is the bulk rate for a 22-ride pass.)
Campus Transit currently has an "open door" policy, allowing anyone to board free because it's not worth the trouble to check UGACards. Campus Transit is funded by student fees.
The latest version of the contract, however, stipulates that "the University shall refrain from duplicating services and using [Athens Transit] bus stops on off-campus routes… by operating with no boardings or debarkation of passengers, i.e. 'closed door/non-stop,' directly back and forth, with no interim stops between campus and satellite locations."
Exceptions are carved out for the Milledge Avenue bus that serves fraternities and sororities, as well as UGA's evening service to student apartment complexes on South Milledge Avenue and Riverbend Parkway.
In addition to the Health Sciences bus, the language would also apply to UGA buses running to the new veterinary teaching hospital on College Station Road when it's built.
The commission is discussing the contract at its 7 p.m. agenda-setting meeting today at City Hall.