Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023–10:40 a.m.
-David Crowder, WRGA News-
The public is invited to attend a special celebration hosted by the Rome Transit Department.
RTD will dedicate five new buses during a ceremony on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Midtown Transit Station.
“We have five new Gillig low-floor buses,” said transit director Kathy Shealey. “We have rebranded our buses. They are beautiful, and they look great. They are low-floor, so they are easy for loading and unloading for the passengers and for the drivers, who will not have to get out on some of the buses where the wheelchair lift comes on the outside. We’re really excited about that.”
According to Shealey, ridership is up around 40% in the last year and a half. That’s about 700 riders a day.
“Back during COVID in 2021, ridership was really bad,” she said. “We had to do a lot to protect the passengers and the drivers. We did transport some people but our ridership really dropped with probably less than 100 riders a day. However, we’re back up now.”
Shealey credits the Rome City Commission for the increase. They allowed RTD to start offering free ridership in October of 2021. That service continues in 2023.
The Rome Transit Department also operates six to eight paratransit buses a day, transporting anywhere from 100 to 150 passengers to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, workplaces, and other destinations.
“You have to be certified to use the paratransit service,” Shealey said. “It’s a complimentary service but you have to go through an application process. We go three-quarters of a mile outside our fixed route to pick up riders who are certified.”
Rome’s transit system was actually operated by Georgia Power until 1961 when they transferred their buses and $300,000 to the City of Rome.