Only a handful of riders boarded the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority’s (GRTA) this morning, but driver and supervisor Damon Taylor hopes that will change.
“I think now that we’ve actually reached out and found a route that is doable -- that can reach out to this community and this area -- I think it will help out quite a bit,” Taylor said. “It’s been needed for a long time.”
Taylor said the goal of the service is to ease traffic while giving commuters a safe and comfortable ride.
“This service will help people get downtown without having to sit in traffic 30 to 40 minutes each day,” Taylor said. “The HOV lane helps us out quite a bit. We get to bypass a lot of that standstill traffic.”
The GRTA buses are staffed by American Coach Line drivers. Taylor said the drivers are highly trained professionals.
“They’re some of the best on the road,” he said. “The public does not have to worry about safety.”
Eric Cox, director of contract services for American Coach, was at the Dacula park and ride this morning to make sure the first day of operations went smoothly. Though somewhat disappointed by the low turnout, Cox said it could take some time for the route to get established. Cox said the expectations are that the Dacula to downtown route could eventually match the ridership of the current Mall of Georgia to downtown route –- a route which averages 150 riders a day.
Dacula resident Sharon Palmer was one of the people to try out the new Xpress service on its opening day. Palmer, who works in the Peachtree Center downtown, has been traveling up to 30 minutes every day to and from the I-985 park and ride where she boarded a bus to downtown. For Palmer, the new Dacula route is a welcome addition.
“I’ve been doing this for almost six years,” Palmer said. “I didn’t want to do it at first because I just wanted to be in my car and drive downtown, but, with all of the traffic and everything, I tried it and the first time I tried it, I was hooked. I just loved it and I’ve been doing it every day ever since.”
Palmer said she passes time on the bus listening to her iPod, reading or just resting after a long day at work.
“It’s just nice not to have to worry about the traffic,” she said.
Palmer said she hopes the service finds support in the Dacula area.
“This is so convenient for me right here,” she said. “I’m looking forward to this. I hope this works.”
For more information about the Xpress service, contact GRTA by email at customerservice@XpressGA.com or call the Regional Customer Service Center at 404-463-GRTA (-4782). You can also get GRTA service alerts on Twitter at twitter.com/xpressga. You can also read more about the Dacula to downtown service by .