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Pain at the pump? City of Huntsville officials urge residents to ‘Try Transit’

Published on July 11, 2022

Huntsville commuters have struggled with higher costs this summer as fuel prices reached record highs. Though the average price in Huntsville is just shy of $4 per gallon, many drivers are still paying nearly $50 to fill up, depending on the size of their gas tanks.

Introducing “Orbit” and “Access” for fixed route and paratransit service

To that end, City of Huntsville officials are urging drivers to “Dump the Pump & Try Transit.” Huntsville’s Parking and Public Transportation Department operates Orbit, a fixed-route bus service covering 10 routes, as well as Access, a specialized, door-to-door paratransit service.

Director Quisha Bryant notes the cost to ride is significantly less than a gallon of gas, not to mention regular vehicle maintenance. An Access ticket is $2, while it costs only $1 for a one-way fare on Orbit. The price drops to 50 cents for seniors aged 65 or older, those with a valid student ID, or anyone on Medicaid or Medicare.

A study by the American Public Transportation Association found an average household would save $10,000 per year by owning one less car and taking public transportation instead.

There’s also ease of use. Huntsville Transit has partnered with Token Transit to allow riders to purchase fares on their smartphones. Riders simply show operators the ticket on their phone and take a seat.

Transit for all

Mayor Tommy Battle said more people willing to “Try Transit” will go a long way toward reversing the idea that public transportation is just for underserved populations. For example, Orbit is seeing increased diversity among riders, from college students to retirees and even some young professionals.

“If you live and work in the heart of Huntsville, public transportation is a great way to cut down on fuel costs and safely get to where you need to go,” Mayor Battle said. “As our City grows, we’ll add more buses and routes to ensure we serve more citizens. Our drivers are highly trained, our buses are safe, and they’re cool in the summer and warm in the winter.”

Transit partners

For those who work outside Orbit’s service area, Huntsville Transit partners with two ride-share services – Commute with Enterprise and CommuteSmart. Commute with Enterprise offers van pools for groups of co-workers who live near each other. Using CommuteSmart’s online database, people can also set up carpools with people who live or work nearby.

Bryant said these partnerships provide more options to residents looking for a break from high gas prices. She added Huntsville Transit will also increase its coverage following the construction of a new transfer station that will accommodate more buses and riders.

Another important factor in Huntsville’s growth is improving and planning multimodal paths for everyone, including those who prefer to walk or ride bicycles. On days when extreme or inclement weather disrupts a ride, Orbit buses can easily take riders and their bikes closer to their destinations.

Transit feedback

Anticipating future growth, the City is working with Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates Inc. to update its Transit Improvement Plan. While public input meetings are in the planning stages, Bryant encourages the public to complete a brief online survey available here.

“We’re excited about meeting the needs of our growing city,” she said. “At a time when fuel prices are putting a financial strain on drivers, we provide a great alternative. We hope the public will take the time to ‘Try Transit.’”

For more information on the City’s public transportation offerings and ride-share partnerships, visit HuntsvilleAL.gov/Transit.

A graphic that says "Dump the Pump & Try Transit." There are four photos on the graphic including a man holding a bike; a man and woman in the back seat of a car; two other people inside a car sharing a laugh; and a person pushing a wheelchair.