Free bus rides offered to promote public transportation

The free rides were part of Bike, Walk and Wheel Week.
Bike Mechanic and local teacher Kyle Popa demonstrates how to remove the front wheel of a bicycle Thursday evening during a bike maintenance workshop at Walt's Bicycle Fitness and Wilderness Co. The event was part of Bike, Walk and Wheel Week.

Rides on Columbia Transit and Paratransit were free Thursday as part of the annual Bike, Walk and Wheel Week.

"Try Transit Free" Day was one of two events held by Get About Columbia, the group sponsoring the week, which is in its ninth year. The group also hosted a bicycle maintenance workshop at Walt's Bicycle Fitness & Wilderness Co. on Rogers St.

CTP Transportation Supervisor Drew Brooks said the goal is to boost ridership with people who don't often use public transportation.

"We feel like if they can ride the bus free once and try it, even if it's not something they do every day, they're more like to do it in the future," Brooks said.

Brooks said providing the free rides will cost the city money. He said the CTP estimated it would lose $581 in lost fixed route fares and $57 in lost paratransit fairs. The "Your Bike is Your Ticket" program will cost the service $221.

Brooks said the city has absorbed the costs in the past, but may scrutinize them more closely given the economic downturn.

"In the past, we just did the events," Brooks said. "But now it's looking like something we'll have to add into our budget for the City Council."

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