And Miron is already thinking to the future. "I'd like to try a Friends Ride Free event where two passengers can ride for the price of one," she says. "This is easy to communicate and fun for customers."
The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) partnered with the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library providing free library transportation for area youth, grades K through 12, participating in the Summer Reading Club. The library has 18 branches and TARTA service area covers all but two of those branches. The library's reading program runs from June to August each year.
Since the first reading program started in 2001, TARTA has provided free rides for participants. There are no subsidies and no special routes are required as there is already service to the library.
To promote this service, the library works with area schools to get the message out to parents and students and provides TARTA with placards for the bus interior. Stephen Atkinson, director, marketing for TARTA, adds that they also place a banner prominently on the agency's home page.
The Summer Reading Club participation has grown over the years, as has the ridership. In 2006, there were more than 16,000 Summer Reading Club participants and there were about 3,600 boardings for the program.
Atkinson mentions they have had a few situations where an adult rider attempts to get free fare by showing their library card. The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library provides TARTA with an informational handout for the drivers so that everyone knows exactly what the program materials are.
The library's program provides an opportunity to reinforce the educational foundation schools have provided and encourages children to read independently during the school months. TARTA is able to get the students there. As Atkinson says, "TARTA offers a safe, reliable mode of transportation for school-age kids to get back and forth to an environment of positive development opportunities: the local public library.
A lunchtime shuttle is part of a successful partnership between Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) and Hooters Restaurant Channelside. Kathy Karalekas, community liaison specialist of HART, explains, "Tampa's Channelside district is a newly developing area just on the outskirts of downtown. When Hooters opened its new restaurant there, it was looking for a way to entice downtown office workers to make the trip to Channelside for lunch rather than simply walk to one of the establishments in the downtown core area."
This type of program attracts choice riders to give transit a try. Karalekas says, "The lunchtime shuttle encourages downtown, white-collar professionals who otherwise may not consider using public transit to get onboard."
Hooters Restaurant Channelside funds the service including operating costs, cost of producing the bus stop signs and the cost of branding the two trolley buses dedicated to the service. "In working out this public/private partnership, completing negotiations proved to be another challenge," Karalekas states.
"While the restaurant was able to review and comment on the terms of agreement, it then had to go to the HART board of directors." She adds, "Because the HART board meets only once a month, this requirement delayed negotiations; this type of delay can create some frustration with the private industry which often is able to turn around such agreements on a more timely basis."
In the end, HART developed a shuttle route that serves stops every 10 minutes with a five-minute trip to Channelside after the last stop, "giving downtown workers time to enjoy a meal at the Channelside complex within the average lunch hour," says Karalekas.
Ridership is one quick way to look at the success of a program. Since its inception, nearly 50,000 rides have been taken on the shuttle. Karalekas states that there is an average of 61 rides on the lunchtime shuttle each weekday.
"Another important indicator of success is in the perception of value by the community," Karalekas asserts. "Hooters has renewed its sponsorship twice and other businesses in the Channelside district are interested in expanding hours of service to include connections between the Arts District and downtown convention hotels and Channelside.