2008: Last Year’s Gas Crisis Is Still a Boon to StarMetro
When gas prices soared to $4-plus per gallon last year, Tallahassee Magazine writer Karen Bridges stopped driving her car to work and switched to taking the StarMetro bus instead.
“I find riding the bus is safe, easy and quite economical”, she wrote in our September/October 2008 issue. “By the third day, I felt like a pro. I knew where to wait, what time the bus came and exactly what to expect.”
Bridges was one of a number of people who had switched or were thinking about switching to riding the bus at that time.
Then the recession kicked in and gas prices fell. Nevertheless, the change hasn’t affected the number of people riding the bus much, according to StarMetro Director Ron Garrison.
“Most of our new customers using transit enjoy their peaceful, stress-free ride to and from work,” Garrison said in an e-mail interview. “Therefore, they have and will continue to ride StarMetro no matter where the price of gas falls.”
Upgrades have also been made to the bus shelters, and a hybrid bus will soon be added to the fleet.
“Last fall, StarMetro installed 88 solar-powered i-STOPs (bus stops with solar-powered lighting) and retrofitted 35 existing shelters with solar lighting panels around the city of Tallahassee,” noted Heather Harris, of StarMetro’s marketing department. “This solar-powered technology helped to increase nighttime ridership over 10 percent at those stops which now offered solar lighting. In addition, in the fall, StarMetro will place the first hybrid paratransit bus (a minibus outfitted to accommodate wheelchairs) in the state of Florida into its service.”