Mandy Harris knows her bus and a new bus company is on its way. She was waiting at the bus terminal on Broad Street, and she hopes this isn't a change for the worse. "If it do better, that would be good. Ain't nothing wrong with it now, come on time, and don't have to stand out there waiting," said Harris.
The wait is over. After two years, Mobility Transit is out of city transit and McDonald Transit Associates is in.
Augusta Commissioners voted on July 16th to contract with McDonald. That was just 15 days ago, but company officials say they're ready to take over.
"Service should not be impacted. We're looking for a smooth process, everything is going to be a pretty much smooth transition. The riders won't have any issues or problems, no worries at all about us continuing the same service," says General Manager Quentarus Brown.
The changeover affects not only riders, but also employees. Workers were filling out paperwork to be transferred from Mobility to McDonald. Some of these employees were on the city payroll before Mobility.
"That hurt a lot of drivers because, you know, we had been here and hoped to retire from the city with the benefits and all. That's three transitions in less than three years, says bus driver James Odell. "What's that like?" we asked. "It's horrible," Odell answered.
Augusta Commissioner Bill Lockett also thinks that's horrible. He did not support hiring a private company to run public transit. "All it does, it takes money...money that could be utilized by us to provide additional routes to make the turnaround time less, and so forth. To me, it's not a wise thing to do," said Lockett.
But, McDonald Transit now has the job of running the buses, even though some Commissioners feel it's the wrong route to take.
There were no raises offered to employees transferring from Mobility to McDonald, but the GM says no pay cuts either. Tthe transition process included background checks and drug tests.
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