Without a driver’s license and a permanent job, Dolores Victor relies on Hall Area Transit for most of her errands.
“Right now, the immigration law is strict, and taxis are very expensive,” said Victor on Monday as she waited for a bus to Lenox Park apartments in Gainesville.
And on Monday, when Hall Area Transit’s Red Rabbit service added new routes and new stops, it made it a lot easier for Victor to get to the places she needed to be, she said.
“Now that they’ve extended the routes, it makes it easier to run errands and go to the clinic,” Victor said through a translator.
Victoria Hernandez, who waited with Victor and her husband for the bus Monday afternoon, praised the fact that she would no longer have to walk to the hospital from the closest bus stop.
“Now it’s better because the buses go into the hospital,” Hernandez said through a translator.
Local transit officials are offering free rides on Red Rabbit this week to give riders a chance to learn about their new service.
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. The expansion also provides service to Gainesville State College, Brenau University and the Hall County Library System’s main branch in downtown Gainesville.
Janice Crow, general manager of Hall Area Transit, said the agency expects to provide 150,000 trips with this year’s expansion.
Already on Monday, there was an increase in ridership on some routes. Route Five, which runs from Main Street to Memorial Park Drive on Browns Bridge Road with service to the shopping areas around Walmart, Target and the Lakeshore Mall, was the most popular, Crow said. The route saw 169 riders by the day’s end.
“With the cold and the rain, I think it kept ridership down a little bit this morning, because it got much better as the afternoon went on,” Crow said.
Crow said she expects ridership to grow as riders become more familiar with the new routes; also, she said ridership is stronger at the beginning of the month.
“Overall, it was a respectable day ... given the weather and all the changes,” Crow said.
For more information about the expansion plans, call the Hall Area Transit Dispatch Office at 770-503-3333.