CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. -- Mass transit is back, for potentially thousands of Metro Atlanta commuters who have been without it since March 31, ever since Clayton County ran out of money and shut down the county-owned "C-Tran" buses.
The new bus service is limited, so far. But the cost to taxpayers is zero.
A Clayton County investor, Tywanna Albro, saw the need and started the new service that she calls "QuickTransit" -- starting it on a prayer, and with her own money.
"It's a huge leap of faith," she said Thursday. "We are not making money, we're spending more than we're bringing in." She intends to reverse that negative cash flow.
She bought eleven buses, acquired all the permits and licenses she needs, and started last week. She's put four of the buses on the road, at first, operating on two of the old "C-Tran" routes to and from Clayton County.
"And our ridership is increasing," she said. "I'm looking for it to expand and grow. But with the help of Clayton County residents, I know that they're going to use the service and that it is going to expand."
Passengers waiting for one of the new buses to arrive at the College Park transit station Thursday evening were relieved that Albro thinks she can do, with her own money, what Clayton County Commissioners couldn't, or wouldn't, do with taxpayers' money.
"It's better than nothing, yeah," Carlos Rosalis said, with a smile, as he waited. He said QuickTransit's one-way fare of $3.50 is steep for him, but since his car had broken down he was glad to have bus service as a backup again.
He hadn't counted on one of the new buses also breaking down Thursday; QuickTransit has had a few bugs to work out since opening for business at the beginning of August.
The bus that was supposed to arrive at the College Park transit station at 7:15 pm arrived at 7:50 pm. Albro said it was because the other bus on the route had broken down earlier in the day; she said both buses on the route would be in service Friday. And the 7:35 pm bus was also late. Albro said it was because of bad traffic.
"It's really not good when you're trying to get to work on time ," said a passenger, Chantavia Collins. "You're sitting there waiting and waiting. And then I called the bus people. They told me the bus would be there in 30 minutes."
And was it?
Even so, Collins said, ever since C-Tran shut down, she's been having to use a taxi on many days, in order to commute between her home in Clayton County and her job in north DeKalb County (her brother drives her some days).
She said the taxi cost her $20 to $30 one way.
She's rooting for QuickTransit to succeed.
And to be quick.