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78 bus proves popular

SNELLVILLE - Joyce Reiling has been riding the bus downtown for about three years. But now, she said, the commute is even better.

The program specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture no longer has to make the 11-mile trek to the Indian Trail Park-and-Ride lot. A new lot at Hewatt Road and Oakland Park Boulevard is a mile from her house.

"It's been wonderful," she said. "I read the paper, I do some work, in the mornings, I take a nap."

The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority Xpress bus that picks up at the Hewatt Road Park and Ride stop in Snellville has a 90-day trial run at the request of County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, who is opposed to bus service in the area.

In its first days of service, GRTA spokesman William Mecke said the bus had 25 riders Monday and 32 Tuesday. He expects that more people will begin to use the service as word gets out.

"It's pretty good numbers for the first couple days," he said. "We're real pleased with it. We're going to keep on working to make sure it goes well."

Reiling said she recognized a number of people on the new route who used to ride with her from Indian Trail. She said many of them commuted to that Park and Ride lot from Conyers, Discover Mills and other areas, and that the Hewatt Road lot seems to be more centrally located.

The drive to the Federal Center, where she works, took about an hour at 5:40 a.m., Reiling said. A number of other riders work for Georgia Pacific or for the state or federal governments, which Reiling said encourage their employees to use the service.

A second stop, at the Snellville First Baptist Church, should be added within the coming weeks, Mecke said. He said the church's lawyer needed to look over the agreement before the plan could be finalized.

The Xpress Bus service is operated by Gwinnett County Transit and travels to the Civic Center, with stops at the Peachtree Center, the Five Points MARTA station and Capitol Square in the mornings. There are four morning buses, beginning at 5:40 a.m., and five in the evenings.

Reiling said she hopes the new route succeeds, but that she will continue to take the bus downtown regardless.

"It's that important to me not to be on the highway, to not pay for parking and gas and the time you waste," she said. "It makes the traffic more bearable. I'm really glad the service came."

For more information on the routes, see www.xpressga.com or call 404-463-4782. Fares will cost $3 one way, and 10-ride passes will be $27. Monthly passes will be $100.