A proposal to increase bus stop infrastructure across Athens was discussed at the TSPLOST Citizens Oversight Committee earlier this week. 

The proposal would make more bus stops eligible for shelters and improvements.

Bus stop improvements are decided by assigning each stop a “level” – level one being a bus stop with the least development and level five having the most development, in terms of shelters, seating and a paved/unpaved ground.

The new proposal would change the current criteria for each bus stop, reducing the amount of passengers per day that are required to determine what level a bus stop gets placed in.

This pushes for more improvements on more bus stops. Since the plan was originally started in 2005, 388 of 463 bus stops have received improvements, according to the TSPLOST Citizens Oversight Committee.

That year, the committee suggested shelters and seats for busy bus stops, standard equipment for stops such as uniform benches and shelters and achieving standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

ACC also has art shelters – 11 to date. In 2005 and 2008, one phase of the Bus Stop Art Shelter Program was proposed each year, where artists were commissioned to submit design proposals and compete for a bus stop.

This new plan proposes another 15-45 new art shelters, all of which would cost around $30,000 each. The total budget for the improvements project is $2.7 million – this includes surveying, lighting for all stops and additional amenities along with improvements.

A little more than $1 million of funding will come from TSPLOST, the special transportation sales tax and  SPLOST, Sanders said. Funding will also come from Georgia Department of Transportation grants, which can provide $2.5 million.

Some committee members disagree with the cost set aside for the art shelters.

“You've got the single person riding the bus everyday, and she gets punished,” said committee member Willie C. Bolton. “Then you’ve got folks being rewarded because six or seven are standing in the same spot to catch the bus. Something ain’t right with that, in my opinion.”

Citizens advisory committee chair Alice Kinman said the committee could potentially create more advertisements on more bus stops in order to add a revenue source.

Lighting up the trail system

Keith Sanders, SPLOST program administrator, presented the 2018 project for improvements and changes to the design at the 5:30 p.m. meeting on Monday. 

The other project proposed by the committee was the plans for the Winterville section of the Firefly Trial. 

The Firefly Trial is an ongoing alternative pedestrian route connecting Union Point and Athens-Clarke County, which started being constructed 18 years ago.

SPLOST project administrator Derek Doster explained the main plans for the 1.5-mile section of the trail, which will be put to a vote at the ACC Mayor and Commission meeting May 1. 

Two properties at the end of the Winterville segment have expressed concerns about safety and overcrowding because of the trail construction.

“I would probably be in their position if I were their age,” Doster said. “They’re elderly. This is something new to them.”

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