Major upgrade planned for Athens Transit

Athens Transit is planning their biggest service upgrade in years.

The Athens-Clarke County government has announced that three new bus transfer stations will be built to complement the already existing multimodal center. The additional stations will allow for a completely new and more efficient set of routes that will stretch further out, reduce wait times and better connect riders to where they need to go.

Benefits of multiple transfer stations

These additional transfer stations were recommended in the 2018 Transit Development Plan which recognized that Athens Transit’s single transfer point limits its expansion. Currently, all routes must return to the multimodal center at least once an hour so passengers can connect to other routes.

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That means buses can travel at most a half hour in any direction before needing to return. Once you account for all the twists, turns and frequent stops buses usually take, that’s actually not very far in heavy traffic. The current setup causes inefficiency, slows down the buses and reduces service more and more the further you get away from the multimodal center.

Interim Athens Transit Director Pat Hale told APN that she’s been looking forward to this huge improvement for years.

“We’ll be able to provide more service in different areas, because not every bus will have to come all the way back down to the multimodal center,” Hale said. “Right now, every time you go out, you’ve got a 30 minute wait. [With the new transfer stations,] we’ll be able to increase frequency. It’s going to be so much better.”

While the design hasn’t been finished yet, each new station will have restrooms, vending machines, at least ten parking spaces and they’ll be located near retail, restaurants or employment centers according to Hale. They might also have air-conditioned waiting rooms to make passengers more comfortable.

Where will the new stations be located?

The 2018 Transit Development Plan identified three intersections where a transfer station would be most helpful: Mitchell Bridge at Atlanta Highway, Alps Road at Hawthorne Avenue and Lexington Road at Gaines School Road.

Transfer station zones
A new transfer station will be built in each zone depicted above.

Public input requested

The new stations will be built somewhere near these intersections, but YOU get to choose the exact locations. Athens Transit has an online survey asking community members to comment on where the new stations should be. You can provide your input here through October 3.

They’re also hosting an in-person meeting to collect input at the multimodal center on September 7 from 2-6 pm. Bilingual staff will be on site to answer questions in Spanish. If you miss this meeting, no worries — there will be two more input meetings coming soon.

How much will the project cost?

The 2018 Transit Development Plan estimates that the new stations will cost $1.5 million in total. However, the cost of building materials was significantly lower in 2018 and more to the point, the stations haven’t been designed yet. This means the final cost could vary widely from this estimate.

Fortunately, Athens Transit will have multiple funding sources from which to draw. They’ve already included $500,000 for the plan in TSPLOST 2018 and some additional funding will come from the Federal Transit Administration and the state government as well. 

This should be enough to get started. TSPLOST 2023 is coming soon and there’s also a federal infrastructure bill in the works, so now is actually a great time to start a project like this, despite the high cost of materials.

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