Coast Transit Authority Offers Free Rides - - The News for South Mississippi

Coast Transit Authority Offers Free Rides

Gulfport resident Bob Weston grew up in Bronx New York and knows well the value of clean reliable pubic transportation.  

"Whenever I need to take the bus, I take the bus and it's usually three to four to five or six times a week," says Weston. "I run to Walmart. I go to my bank. I go to the hospital a lot."

And there was no way he was staying home Thursday when a trip to any of those places was free. 

"Who needs a car at these prices," says Weston. 

This one day of free rides is part of the Coast Transit Authority's celebration of Try Transit Week, and a way Director Kevin Coggin says to convey an important message.  

"It' affordable," says Coggin. "It's dependable and it's reliable. That's what we need folks to know."

Earl Thomas of Ocean Springs is taking his first ride with CTA to find out for himself.  

"I'm Seeing if this can save me some gas money," says Thomas. "I think it can be faster really. In so many ways, it can be faster. It saves on gasoline and it's a lot safer."

CTA last provided free rides in the months following Hurricane Katrina.  

"That was a real good thing that came out of it," says Coggin. "We were able to help people and it exposed a lot of people to public transit that wouldn't ordinarily use it."

Now Coggins says another factor is causing people to consider public transportation.  

"Gas prices have definitely had an affect on our ridership. The higher it goes the more our ridership goes up."

In fact, he says they've seen an eleven percent increase in ridership in last month alone, due in part to gas prices and the opening of casino. Coggins hopes those factors combined with traffic jams and pollution concerns will create more Bob Weston's and Earl Thomas's in the future.

"I can't say much more about it other than I like it," says Weston.

by Don Culpepper

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