Coast Transit Promotes Bus Ridership

Coast Transit Authority wants you to consider riding the bus this week.

CTA leaders kicked off a week long "Try Transit" promotion at Edgewater Mall Monday morning. They'd like to build awareness about public transit on the coast and future plans to expand it.

Coast Transit served more than a million passengers last year. But leaders admit they'd like to see much larger numbers.

Part of the problem is perception. They admit that many folks see public transit as a government subsidy of sorts, with bus rides reserved for the low income, handicapped or elderly. CTA wants to change that image.

Coast Transit director, Reid Hopper, says the idea behind "Try Transit" week is simple.

"The idea is to use it as alternative transportation. To park that car. To get out and try mass transit," said Hopper.

Barbra Morris doesn't need convincing. Since she doesn't own a car, she relies heavily on buses. She even chose to live close to the CTA hub at Edgewater Mall.

"It works for me. That's how come I moved where I am, so I could be closer to the mall and I can catch the bus and I don't have to walk all the way down the street. They're good."

CTA leaders cut a ribbon in front of a brand new bus that will service the busy mall and Highway 49 bus route. The "Try Transit" promotion this week is part of a larger push to get coast residents thinking about future travel plans. CTA is investing millions of dollars in park and ride facilities.

Hopper says buses will be an important part of the area's future.

"We realize that the future on this Gulf Coast is not building roads. There's not enough land to build more roads. There's not enough money to build more roads. So, we're going to have to use mass transit as an alternative, viable means of transportation,"

Larry Kail recently moved here from the Atlanta area. He's riding CTA buses, but says the system here can't compare to Atlanta's MARTA program.

"And I understand that probably the coast area doesn't have enough people to ride the bus. But to get more people to ride the bus, they're going to have to have more routes and more places to go and better timing," said Kail.

CTA's director says they have made improvements in service areas and bus routes. But even those changes won't attract everyone to ride the bus.

"Still, we're fighting the perception though: If it doesn't come to my front door, I'm not going to use it," said Hopper.