The five-year Transit Development Plan for Augusta Public Transit served as a road map for the agency with regard to future operational plans that incorporate modifications and expansions of the system to attract more riders by offering more direct access to potential destinations, such as Columbia and Aiken Counties and Fort Gordon. The TDP also included capital planning recommendations, implementation recommendations for ITS projects, and other activities such as additional communication and coordination programs.
The previous transit service had been reduced in scope based primarily on the absence of a dedicated local funding source and the lack of local resources to maintain all of the locally funded programs. One of the agency goals was to make the case for the need and value of the service, which resulted in state legislation that would permit local funding votes for transportation.
The TDP process included collection of data and information through ride checks, onboard and non-rider surveys, stakeholder interviews and meetings with the public and the Steering Committee, as well as a peer review analysis. The initial information gathering phase gave everyone in the community an opportunity to provide ideas and comments. The most interesting result was the expectation of non-riders that the service be expanded and enhanced. The previously existing service was then analyzed and compared with the survey, comments and data received, followed by the drafting of potential service changes and modifications for consideration.
These draft ideas were then vetted through a thorough review process leading to the drafting of operating, capital and financial alternatives followed by refinements received from the riders, the community and the policy makers. It was clear that this was a critical time for APT and the potential existed to increase awareness and partnering agency participation and expand the understanding of public transportation to match the increased development in the downtown area and the ongoing development of the region.
The phased implementation plan began with a no-cost service change to provide direct service to the downtown by eliminating low productivity service segments. This service change was accompanied by creating a park and ride facility and connecting with rural paratransit service to begin an expanded network which can be enhanced as additional funds become available.