BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It was a good day for a free ride for visitors doing some sightseeing and for people like Mitzie Swaby Fowler, who uses Coast Transit Authority buses every day to get to her two jobs.
She agrees it’s a lifesaver.
“Yes, it is because I don’t drive so this is my main way of commuting," Fowler said.
What would it be without the service?
“It’s be a lot of slow moving around,” she said. “A lot of people take the bus for daily commute, for work, and there’s a lot of folks that go shopping, sightseeing and everything else.”
Thai Nguyen and her grandson Dominic are among those people.
“It helps us a lot,” she said. “Sometimes we need to go shopping. We need to go grocery. Sometimes we went to Ocean Springs Grocery.”
Thursday was Try Transit Day in South Mississippi and across the country.
Rebecca Jarrell is a first-time rider and has a good reason to use it.
“To get to and from to my kids,” she said. “One's in Woolmarket, the other is in D'Iberville, so it makes it easy. I figured, ‘Why not?’ ”
The CTA bus is the only way for Thomas Lee Jackson to travel.
“I leave my house. I walk about 100 yards and the bus picks me up,” he said. “And it drops me off about 100 yards from my house.”
CTA Director Kevin Coggin said this free day helps get more people to use the bus by educating them.
“It’s all about drawing attention to the system we have so the community knows what we have to offer,” he said
He said that includes helping people save money in transportation costs. For example: a regular rider who calls himself Uncle Frank.
“I cannot complain,” he said. “I used to drive a car and believe me, it was more expensive to drive a car up and down the streets. To me, it’s the best economic choice for senior citizens.”
Despite having to close down the Popp’s Ferry-Cedar Lake route last weekend, the current routes, Coggin said, are strong.
“I call it the backbone,” he said. “What we’re running right now is self-sustaining. It has been. We've run these routes many, many years. They’re very stable, people use them.”
He added that ridership has increased about 2.5 percent.