JETS ridership getting back to where it was after budget cuts

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Jonesboro's public transit system is slowly getting back to where it was. After major budget cuts in 2010, ridership is up, causing JETS to go back to 30 minute routes throughout the city. The transit director hopes it's just bigger and better from here.

"It commutes me back and forth to work so I think it becomes of essence," JETS rider Jod Sawyer told Region 8 News. Sawyer said he rides from home to work at a local restaurant on a daily basis.

He explained he only moved to Jonesboro six months ago from Chicago. While he said the public transit system here isn't as effective as it is there, it works.

"It gets you from point A to point B and it's comfortable."

Sawyer said while a car would be great, "you've gotta crawl before you walk."

That's something the JETS system has learned over it's nearly eight year existence.

"We're moving in the right direction," JETS transit director Steve Ewart said.

In 2009, JETS saw over 88,000 riders. Major budget cuts in 2010 cut production by 55% but finally, ridership is climbing back up. 66,000 total riders in 2013.

"This year, in fact just this month, we saw the first 6,000 ridership month we've had since late 2009 when we had to cut our services."

In fact, on a daily basis, roughly 350 people utilize JETS, compared to 250 two years ago.

"We're seeing significant increase in our ridership," Ewart said. "It's more convenient. It's more dependable, it's more functional."

Ewart said if Jonesboro follows other cities that have recently implemented public transit, it won't be long before the ridership itself changes.

"You're gonna start seeing suits ride the bus."

All part of a growing city.

"If you're gonna be urban, and we're gonna be urban, you've gotta manage your humanities and one of those is public transit."

Ewart said he expects ridership to increase even more when the central transfer station is completed in 2015. That will be located at the former fire station on Caraway and Matthews.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All Rights Reserved.