StarMetro in Demand

StarMetro says it'll foot the bill for FAMU students while it works out FAMU's financial concerns with the free fare service.

It all stems from a dramatic increase in student ridership, but students aren't the only ones jumping on board. Some Tallahasseeans have had enough of surging gas prices, so they're leaving their cars at home and taking to mass transit.

Bernadette Grant, a customer, said, "I don't have to worry about finding a park, and it's somewhat inexpensive, considering gas prices."

Even with last year's fare hike, about 25 cents more for a regular fare, Tallahassee's StarMetro says it's seeing dramatic increases in ridership.

Cameron Carlisle, another customer, added, "It's not just people that live around this area, not just students. You get kids, families, a lot of people that ride now that didn't too often before."

The increase wasn't exactly anticipated. StarMetro had been bracing for a year with decreases of about 12 percent.

Ron Garrison, Executive Director of StarMetro, said, "I believe the new image is helping. The buses are cleaner, we have a new logo, we have the new shelters you can see behind me going up."

Garrison said he'll be adding at least 10 buses to the StarMetro fleet during the next year, all to meet increased demand.

In the fall StarMetro will be installing a first of its kind fare box system that will allow it track ridership and give passengers real-time information on when buses are coming and going.