Passengers can catch a ride at Third and Putnam

MARIETTA – GoBus has recently found a new, hopefully permanent stop, in downtown Marietta.

The cheap travel option, which buses residents from Marietta to Athens and offers connections to Columbus and Cincinnati, recently moved its downtown pick up and drop off location to Third and Putnam streets.

“They were stopping at the corner of Second and Butler near (WesBanco), but they didn’t really have a place to pull off there,” Marietta development director Andy Coleman said.

Signs have been erected for the GoBus stop and instructing drivers not to park there between 10 and 11 a.m. when the bus makes its daily stop in downtown Marietta.

Scouting several potential sites, the wide sidewalk in front of Fish N’ Stuff on Third Street stood out as the ideal new location and the bus has now been stopping there for about two weeks, he said.

Without the new site, it is possible the GoBus stop would have been moved outside of the downtown area, said Carolyn Conley, GoBus Service manager.

“We wanted to stay downtown because that makes it more of a service the community of Marietta can use. The spot we found on Third and Putnam is an excellent spot,” she said.

Tickets for the bus route can be purchased online at www.ridegobus.com or can be purchased from the driver in cash. However, GoBus hopes to provide ticketing services through a downtown merchant in the future, said Conley.

GoBus started operations in November 2010. The project’s mission is to provide transportation that allows rural residents to cheaply travel to urban centers and link up with other national transportation, said Conley.

“Rural communities, especially in Southeast Ohio, have been limited by mobility for a very long time. We’re part of an area that lacks the resources urban centers take for granted,” she said.

With Athens as its home base, GoBus allows customers to travel to Columbus and Cincinnati, both of which offer forms of mass transit that extend throughout the country, said Conley.

In February 2012 the service expanded to Marietta and Parkersburg, where travelers can connect with Barons Bus Line and travel north and south on I-77, she said.

“We’re always trying to create these greater transportation options,” she added.

Funded by the Federal Transit Administration and the Ohio Department of Transportation, the nonprofit program covers some of its costs with ticketing.

For $5, riders can travel one way between Marietta and Athens. Another $10 ticket takes riders to either Columbus or Cincinnati.

Waterford resident Abby Smith, 19, usually takes a GoBus from her college in Cincinnati when she wants to visit home.

“I have a car at school, but it’s cheaper to ride the bus than pay for gas,” said Smith, a sophomore at Xavier University. “It’s mostly full of college students. It’s not very crowded so it’s a pretty comfortable ride.”

Tuesday was a busy day for the buses as students at Ohio University prepared to travel home for Thanksgiving, said Conley.

Typically the buses transport 3,400 passengers a month or 111 passengers a day on the various routes, she said.

While recent legislation helped secure the program well into the future, there are currently no plans to expand to new routes, said Conley.

“We’re always looking to grow and expand, but at this point we’re just going to plug along with what we have going,” she said.