Today begins the first day of a much-anticipated expansion of Hall Area Transit that will provide bus service to area colleges.
And to give residents a taste of their expanded services, transit officials are offering free Red Rabbit rides for the rest of the week.
The expansion includes two new routes, thanks to new buses mostly paid for by the Federal Transportation Administration and the state Department of Transportation, but also includes changes to existing routes on the Red Rabbit service.
Janice Crow, general manager of Hall Area Transit, said she expects the expansion will increase ridership since it will cater to students in the community who, for years, have requested service at local colleges.
The new routes are as follows:
- Route One runs by Brenau University East Campus, Avita down Athens Street to Lenox Park Apartments and returns to the transit agency’s Main Street office. Then, the bus travels Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Fair Street back to Brenau and returns to the transit station through the downtown square. The full loop takes 60 minutes.
- Route Two will provide the same service through Jesse Jewell Parkway from Main Street to White Sulphur Road, but it will now provide service to the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center. The full route takes 30 minutes.
- Route Three is the former red route, and is nearly the same as the former route, which ran along Thompson Bridge Road, Park Hill Drive and South Enota Drive. Route Three will meet the other routes on the half hour for transfers. The full route takes 60 minutes.
- Route Four is part of the old blue route, providing service on Dawsonville Highway to Otilla Drive and returns to Main Street through Oak Street. But a new feature of the route now provides service to the downtown library in Gainesville. The full route takes 30 minutes.
- Route Five runs from Main Street to Memorial Drive on Browns Bridge with added service to the shopping areas around Walmart, Target and the Lakeshore Mall. The full route takes 60 minutes.
- Route Six also provides service to those shopping areas, but runs south down Atlanta Highway, providing service to Gainesville State College, and returns to Gainesville on Atlanta Highway. The full route takes 60 minutes.
With the expanded routes, Crow said the agency expects to provide 150,000 trips.
In a statement released last week, Phillippa Lewis Moss, director of the Gainesville-Hall County Community Service Center, said officials are making the first week of the expansion completely free to thank longtime passengers and encourage new ones.
“We just want to say thank you to our loyal passengers and offer encouragement to anyone else who has considered transit but never taken that first step to hop aboard,” Moss said.
For more information about the expansion plans, call the Hall Area Transit Dispatch Office at 770-503-3333.