By Justin Reedy
When Lisa Chance started riding C-TRAN, the Clayton County transit system, just after its inception in October 2001, she knew the bus line would be around for a long time.
She was proven right recently when C-TRAN reached a major milestone, having carried one million passengers since buses started running through Clayton County 20 months ago.
The bus system has outpaced all expectations, officials say, and has become very popular among Clayton County residents.
"We thought one million riders would take us three or four years," said William Mecke, a spokesman for the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, the state agency contracted to run C-TRAN for Clayton County.
But Chance, who uses the system to get to the airport MARTA station and then takes the train to her job in downtown Atlanta, didn't think it would take so long.
"I never doubted that there was a need for the transit system," said Chance, who was selected to represent C-TRAN's riders at a recent ceremony in honor of the milestone. "Just being a resident of the area, you could tell right off the bat it was going to be a success."
Jonesboro resident Harriet Davenport hasn't been riding C-TRAN as long as Chance, but she's been just as pleased with her experience on the bus system. She rides the bus to Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.
"It's good," Davenport said. "I like it because it takes me straight from my house to my job. I don't have to transfer or anything."
College Park resident Willie Woods also takes C-TRAN to the airport, but then switches to MARTA and goes to his job in Atlanta. Though he's been happy with the transit line, Woods has had some problems with buses running late.
"Other than buses being late sometimes, it's all right," he said. "It's convenient."
Clayton County officials are excited that the bus system has been as well received as it has by local residents, which is plainly evident from how quickly C-TRAN got to the million-rider mark.
"Our success comes from the riders," said Crandle Bray, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners. "Clayton County, GRTA and MARTA have worked together to provide C-TRAN service, but the riders are the ones who have shown that the decision to provide public transportation in Clayton County was a good one."
C-TRAN began with two routes serving various parts of Clayton County from Monday through Saturday, but has since been expanded to include a third route and service on Sunday and most holidays.
To Chance, one of the best things about C-TRAN is that officials sought out public opinions before expanding the bus service, and implemented many of the changes suggested by riders.
"The biggest thing that impressed me was having those meetings and actually listening to the passengers," she said. "I wasn't here when they set up MARTA, but to have the citizens involved in C-TRAN's development is a good thing."
And though most of the changes that have been made are good for the bus system, Chance still hopes to see one more major improvement soon n the addition of more stops inside the city of Morrow. Clayton County, GRTA and the city are in negotiations now to accomplish that.
"I told (GRTA officials) they could be at two million riders by now if they put some stops in Morrow," Chance said.