History of Athens Transit

Public Transit in Athens, Georgia since 1885

In 1890 the Athens Park and Improvement Company gave land to the Street Railway Company to extend its lines out two miles to a new development, the Boulevard.

The streetcar barn located on Boulevard was given to the railway and by 1910 the lines were electrified. Service was expanded to cover four major streets.The development of public transit in Athens, Georgia dates back to the late 1800s. The first street railway system was organized in 1885. The early system encountered some unique problems when it rained. The mules pulling the street cars bogged down in the mud and passengers complained when they could not see through the mud splattered windows.

In 1899 the first automobile appeared on the streets of Athens marking the dawn of the Auto Age. Public transportation gave way to the automobile in the mid 1900s. In 1970 interest for reviving public transportation for the City was spawned and in 1976 16 GMC coaches rolled into service.

In the first year of operation, passenger boardings averaged 900 per day. 

The first million passenger was boarded in 1980. As the system continued to gain riders, it was recognized as one of the few transit systems recording continual increases in ridership every year. 

THE BUS boarded its 15th million passenger in 1992.

The first service plan in 1976 provided extensive service in the city from early morning until 9 PM. In 1979 service was trimmed to improve operating efficiency once service demand was determined. The system maintains one of the most efficient operating ratios for its size category in cost per mile and hour and cost per passenger carried.

Recognized in 1991 as the outstanding transit system for its size, Athens Transit serves a population of 100,000 

comprised of a diversified community of 35,000 college students, a viable downtown and growing commercial district.

Athens Transit operates as a department of the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government. Nineteen buses are operated in the AM peak providing service on 18 routes covering the 44 square mile county. Service to the University of Georgia students and faculty is shared with a 32 bus fleet operated by the University of Georgia. Together these two systems boast daily passenger boardings second only to MARTA in metropolitan Atlanta.

Historic preservation influences all development in the downtown district. Athens Transit Transfer Center, completed in 1987, is located at City Hall built in 1903. Perched on the highest point downtown, City Hall continues to be an imposing figure in the downtown skyline and an appropriate landmark for the transfer center where public transit has become an integral part of this community.

The Directors that have guided Athens Transit System.

Ted Waters 1976 - 1977
Jack Gabig 1977 - 1980
Jerry Mooney 1980 - 1988
Tim Lett 1988 - 1994
Dusty Peters 1994 - 1996
Rich Matthews 1996 - 2000
Jerome Parker 2000 - 2001
Tim Lett 2001 - 2001
Knox E. "Butch" McDuffie 2001 - Present