An effort to keep the buses rolling

For years the CMRT has struggled to keep the buses on the road. On Saturday a public meeting offered the chance for residents and city officials to discuss what it will take to keep the public transit system rolling.

The buses are a necessity for many in the Midlands. And finding ways for the public busing system to go full speed ahead, was up for discussion Saturday.

"A majority of the people are willing to be supportive of a public transit system," said organizer Cynthia Hardy. "I think we'll begin to see our policy makers begin to move in that direction."

A direction that includes attracting new riders. Hardy, oversaw the meeting with residents and some city officials. Hardy knows events like the one that took place Saturday, really promote the importance of public transportation for everyone.

"Our bus services in this city--and some other cities--have gotten the stigma that it's for a certain group of people," said Hardy. "And if you don't see yourself in that group then you don't think it's an option for you."

"I have a valid drivers license, I make an average salary," said bus rider George Brown. "I do not own a car."

George Brown has been riding the bus for the past three years. He says he understands the problems facing public transportation.

"As I ride, there really aren't that many patrons," said Brown.

But there is a possible solution.

"A need needs to be created, so people can see this works for everyone," said Brown.

George Brown and others are hopeful events like the one on Saturday, will shift things into high gear.

Richland County is still looking for permanent funding to keep the buses in motions. Right now the county is getting money through vehicle taxes, through 2011.