Gas prices no obstacle

Published 2:53 pm Monday, March 27, 2006

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
It appears high gas prices are not halting anyone's travel plans for next week, and area public transportation hasn't seen an increase in local ridership.
Gas prices are at a standstill in town with most regular pumps averaging $2.49 a gallon. With area schools off for spring break, a majority of residents will be traveling to local beaches to escape. Most residents are ignoring the high gas prices and going ahead with travel plans.
Steve Yuhasz, director of the Escambia County Alabama Transit System, said Friday morning that the hike in gas prices doesn't seem to have caused a spike in the county's public transportation ridership numbers.
There are 13 ECATS buses that span Escambia County (Ala.). A round trip fee - a pick up at home and two stops - costs $3. Each additional stop costs $1.
Yuhasz said that the charge is a small nominal fee. He said the last quarter of last year the fee was raised and gas prices appeared to have been the culprit. Yuhasz said that he believed the ECATS fee was comparable to neighboring county transit fees, but he wasn't &#8220totally certain.”
A good bit, if not most, of ECATS local ridership comes from demand. People will call in and ask for a pick up. Yuhasz said that it's best if residents call 24 hours ahead of time so they can be placed in the books. However, ECATS drivers will still make accommodations for those who need a pick up.
While ECATS has its regular routes, which include taking dialysis patients to the dialysis center, and picking up some residents from an East Brewton apartment complex who have no transportation, the transit system is open to the public for the small charge.
But most people aren't aware of that, or they would rather use their own vehicles for mobilization.
Samantha Hadley took off from work on Friday. She said she wasn't going to let the gas prices diminish her vacation plans.