Saturday, October 17, 2009

Xpress - take a commuter bus into Atlanta

Altanta Low Income Issues Examiner

Xpress - take a commuter bus into Atlanta
October 17, 8:09 AMAltanta Low Income Issues ExaminerDannis Cole
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Some locations may have Greyhound Inter-City buses and Xpress Commuter buses serving them. What's the difference? Commuter buses are designed around people who live outside of Atlanta but travel into the city to work and back home. They may be less expensive than Greyhound, or about the same. Atlanta has a 15-county metropolitan area, but only 12 of them have commuter service. All Xpress buses are equipped with a handicapped lift, for wheelchairs, and for people who cannot climb the steps. For Greyhound, you must arrange for a bus with a lift in advance. But, Greyhound operates possibly any day of the week, depending on the route. Xpress is Monday - Friday only "generally between 5:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. depending on the particular route". This means some routes are rush-hour only and some have limited service during the day. Know your route and its schedule to avoid getting stranded.

Xpress recommends getting to your stop 10 min in advance. Dannis suggests 30 min, especially if you need special assistance such as the lift. Allow extra time to make any connections, such as your ride to the park-and-ride where you will catch your Xpress. If you are transferring to MARTA, and using a Breeze card [how you pay for a trip on MARTA, kind of like a debit card], the transfer is free. Allow plenty of time to get where you are going. A trip with multiple transfers to different routes will take a lot longer than a trip straight to your stop.

From the Xpress site: "A single one-way ride is $3 and a roundtrip is $5 exact cash only. A 20-ride pass is $45, a 40-ride pass is $85 and a 31-Day pass is $80." But, if you have a Medicaid card and "on those routes operating during off-peak hours (between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and after 6:30 p.m.)", you may ride at half-fare. Not all routes have off-peak hours.

Commuter buses and Greyhound buses have a similar feel: seats made for long commutes, overhead lights, forward-facing seats that recline, and overhead storage for luggage. Many commuters carry a briefcase and laptop, or may have to carry luggage for a trip to the airport.

For a person in a wheelchair, the trip begins with waiting for the lift. Some services board before the other passengers, and some, after. The driver will tell you when to roll onto the lift. Be sure and ask for assistance, if you need it. Remember that manual chairs and scooters are not certified to be safe if you remain in them for the tie down. It is much safer to transfer out of the chair, if you can. A power chair is usually heavy enough to be safe, though you should check your chair's manual, to be sure. Manuals are available for free from any medical supply company, but a paper copy may take a week or two. Online, most wheelchair manufacturers offer .pdf copies for download from the website. Know your chair. Intercity/commuter bus drivers usually do not need any help from this reporter to know where to tie the chair down, but be familiar with which parts of the chair are frame members and less likely to break, just in case. City transit buses use different systems to tie down a wheelchair, and you will have to watch as the driver ties your chair down, or he might put the restraint on a weaker part of the chair by mistake. Consider how many different makes of wheelchairs there are! One manufacturer uses front-wheel drive, others, rear-wheel, and Pride Mobility's Jazzy line are mid-wheel drive. No poor driver can memorize that many ways to tie down a chair! Intercity buses' tie-downs are usually only at 2 points on the chair, yet they are sturdy, and the chair usually stays put. But, under most circumstances, your chair will need a 4-point tie down. You need to figure out where the 4 strongest parts of your wheelchair's frame are, and be ready to help the driver know them. Politely. A little courtesy and understanding makes everyone's ride more pleasant. Nothing is scarier than having your chair tip over or slide suddenly as the bus makes a turn! If you do feel your chair shift, ask a passenger near you to signal the driver to come and check the tie-downs.

If you transfer to a seat, your chair will be stowed underneath the bus. Be aware that luggage and bicycles could damage it or be damaged by it. Either way, it's a judgment call for you.

Bicycle commuters can take their bike with them! There are 2 spaces on the front of the bus for bikes, and space underneath for more.

Greyhound and Xpress will be a little different from each other in this way: Greyhound stops in a station. There is little doubt about where to get off, except for some locations where you might have to tell the driver you want off at a certain point. This reporter used to see more of this in earlier years.

On an Xpress bus, it leaves from a Park and Ride and usually travels on the expressways like Greyhound. But, when it gets into Atlanta, there is more than one stop. On the street, there is a sign with Xpress and the route number. Be sure, on your return trip, that you get the right number of bus! Many Xpress routes share stops closer inside Atlanta. Some Xpress stops are shared with regular MARTA buses.

NOTE: Some Xpress routes are operated by CCT Cobb County Transit or GCT Gwinnett County Transit. These may have different fares and look like city buses rather than commuter buses. Check out the route before you board!

For commuters, there are also the RideSmart Program and the VanPool Program. RideSmart is a ride-matching program to match people who need a ride with those who are driving to the same place, or whether you might bike or even walk to your destination. VanPool uses vans, and commuters pay $50-$180/mo depending on how full the van is.

For more info:

Greyhound Inter-City buses


Xpress GA Commuter buses

RideSmart Program

VanPool Program

Moving to Atlanta -visit first

Coming to Atlanta by Greyhound

Posted via web from Adia's Posterous From DanniStories

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