Public Transportation Tries to Keep Up With Rising Gas Prices

By: Rhiana Huckins Email
By: Rhiana Huckins Email

Because of high gas prices, the expense of owning a car, and the price of a cab, many local residents are turning to the Wiregrass Transit Authority for help in getting around town.

As gas prices affect commuters across the U.S, public transportation systems are also feeling the pinch.

Manager John A. Sorell, of the Wiregrass Transit Authority said, "The real challenge we have is trying to balance how to afford the diesel and everything else that’s affected by rising petroleum costs and increase service at the same time. Needless to say it has been an interesting process."

Transit bus drivers are noticing a change in their normal pick up routines.

Bus Driver Nathaniel Lee said, "I have 10 people, one or four in between, three in between, so it has picked up a little bit."

As demand grows, the Monday through Friday bus service isn't enough to benefit all riders.

Carolyn Hamock, a frequent bus rider says, "It would be really good for arrangements to be made for the bus for Saturdays to take people to the grocery store and where ever else they need to go, not concerning medical reasons."

Because the Wiregrass Transit busses run on diesel fuel, it's even more expensive to fill up.

A fare increase is a business decision that could be inevitable.

Mary E. Babis says, "Right now, the way the economy is, I don't think it would be a good idea, especially with people that are on a fixed income because if you have a hard time now, if the price goes up, it’s going to be even worse for us."

But a hike in fares is the absolute last resort.

Sorell says he would rather be part of the solution rather than the problem. "Given my personal preference, I will look for alternative means to fund things and leave the structure as is," he said.

There hasn't been a price increase for the Wiregrass Transit Authority since 1996.

Currently, it costs $2 dollars one way to ride within Dothan City limits, $3 dollars from Webb, Ashford and Cottonwood, and $5 dollars from Gordon, Columbia, and Wicksburg.

The city of Dothan and Houston County fund 10-12 percent of the Wiregrass Transit Authority's budget and federal money pays for half of the funding. The balance is paid mostly by the revenue from the general public.

Because of high demand, scheduling an appointment for pick up is difficult, so it is important for citizens to call for an appointment ahead of time.

For more information, you can call the Wiregrass Transit Authority at 794-4093.


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