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Transit system rolling along in Henry County

Special Photo: Henry County Transit buses are expected to take 90,000 trips in 2012, to transport area residents.

Special Photo: Henry County Transit buses are expected to take 90,000 trips in 2012, to transport area residents.

Henry County’s bus service, reportedly, is growing in popularity, and is expected to transport 90,000 people this year.

The public transportation program, which has been in operation for 23 years, enables local residents to travel within the county in a safe, economic manner, according to David Williamson, director of Henry County Transit.

“We run 18 buses each day, on a first-come, first-served basis, by reservation only,” said Williamson. “We don’t have any fixed routes. If you are 60 or above, it’s $2 per stop. The cost is $4 for people under 60.”

Henry County Transit’s total budget is $1,345,759, said county spokesperson, Julie Hoover-Ernst. Some of that amount, she said, is offset by revenues through reimbursements from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), which sponsors the transit system, and the Department of Human Services, based on the number of riders in those programs.

“Henry County Transit receives approximately 50 percent of its funding for its public transportation program from GDOT,” said Hoover-Ernst. “They also receive additional funding from the Georgia Department of Human Services for transporting senior citizens, and disabled individuals, to and from state-sponsored programs within the county.”

The bus program is fully staffed, with 26 drivers, schedulers, dispatchers and office staff. In 2011, the buses made 82,867 trips in Henry, Hoover-Ernst said.

“There is no mileage limit within the county,” the spokesperson said. “On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, they also make trips to the Southern Regional Hospital area, in Clayton County, for $5 each way.”

Williamson added that the buses appeal to a wide variety of people, and have generated positive feedback from customers. He attributed its success in recent years, to an increase in publicity about the service. Economic struggles, Williamson said, could also be a factor, with some individuals choosing to ride a bus, rather than driving from place to place.

“We have people going to work using it,” he said. “We have people going shopping, or going to medical appointments ... wherever they need to go. We’re on schedule do about 90,000-plus trips this year. There’s no reason to expect that it would decline.”

The transit program director said the county places an emphasis on the well-being of its bus passengers.

“All the drivers are trained in defensive driving, first aid and [cardiopulmonary resuscitation],” said Williamson. “And, we do have security cameras inside the buses to ensure everybody’s safety.”

For more information, call Henry County Transit at (770) 288-7433, or visit www.co.henry.ga.us.