Note: This story appears in the Sunday, Nov. 10 newspaper on Page A1.
Ohio’s gas tax has residents paying more at the pump these days, but those in Athens and Hocking counties are reaping some of the rewards.
Public transportation services here are being expanded, Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP) announced this week, with the organization receiving a major increase in state funding.
Athens Public Transit will have an expanded fleet, including a new 35-foot long bus to debut next year. Line 7, a pilot service for Nelsonville and Albany that debuted in August, will be continued through 2020, HAPCAP announced.
Another program, Athens On Demand, is seeing an expansion for next year. The program has been meant to transport the elderly and those with disabilities to various medical appointments and other errands. Soon, this service will be provided to all residents of Athens County. Also, the funding boost will pay for replacing some of the older vans in service.
All told, combined funding for the two programs is going from just shy of $1 million in 2019 to being over $2.5 million in 2020. These improvements come as the programs have seen increasing demand for public transportation.
Athens Public Transit topped the 500,000 rider mark in 2018, HAPCAP reported.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to expand access for more residents of Athens and Hocking Counties,” said HAPCAP Kelly Hatas in a news release announcing the funding. “We are grateful to (the Ohio Department of Transportation) for all of their hard work in securing and allotting these funds to increase rural transportation in Ohio.”
Logan Public Transit up in Hocking County is increasing its service from the main cities and villages to being available countywide.
Service hours and other information about these program expansions will be announced soon.
Ohio’s gas tax was increased by 10.5 cents a gallon earlier this year as part of a state transportation budget signed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. The funding was meant to help infrastructure and transportation needs throughout the state.