Starting next week, Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority buses will connect north Macon to major east Macon employers in the Ocmulgee East Industrial Park.
The No. 8 route buses are scheduled to start moving people at 6:10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 17, with service to both buildings of Bibb Countys biggest employer, Geico. Rick Jones, general manager of Macon Transit, said a survey of Geico workers indicated about 88 percent were interested in taking public transportation to work.
If that percentage of Geicos more than 5,000 workers actually used the bus service, the authority would have to get a whole additional set of buses, Jones said. But he expects a more modest start and has assigned two buses to the route.
It provides service not just to those who dont have a choice, but to those who do have a choice, Jones said.
Jade Daniels, administrative and operations manager for Macon Transit, said the speed of the buses will be key to attracting ridership.
Were trying to make it as express as possible, she said. Thats whats going to make it a success.
Most of the buses are expected to take 30 minutes to travel from a park-and-ride lot at Mabel White Baptist Church to YKK, the third stop in the industrial park. Buses also will pick up people from a Hutchings Career Center park-and-ride lot on Riverside Drive on the way to the two Geico buildings and the YKK factory.
Rides to the industrial park are now scheduled to start from Mabel White between 6:10 a.m. and 9 a.m. Rides back from the industrial park are slated to leave Geicos A building between 3:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., leaving YKK between 3:25 p.m. and 6:40 p.m.
Jones said its too early to make an accurate prediction of how many people will use the line.
He said ridership at the last new line, to Robins Air Force Base, has grown from just six people on the first day to a typical load of 150 to 200 people per day.
Jones said he expects the bus route will cost about $450,000 per year to run, with shortfalls in fare revenues covered by federal, county and city funds.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, 744-4251.