PARTA to offer free rides on Valentine’s Day

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A PARTA bus drives by the M.A.C. Center on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. 

Alex Johnson

PARTA will offer free rides on Valentine’s Day this year.

PARTA joins over 40 other members of the Ohio Public Transit Association by taking part in the “Ohio Loves Transit” event on Feb. 14.

According to the agency’s official website, rides on Valentine’s Day will be free for local, fixed and Akron express routes.

This is PARTA’s second year giving free rides on the holiday, and it is one of few fare-free seasonal events the association offers. PARTA often offers free rides on Fridays during the summertime.

While university students already ride for free, the program is intended to show gratitude to other community members who pay daily. Frank Hairston, PARTA’s marketing director, said the event serves as a way to return the investment that PARTA makes into public transportation.

PARTA buses carried 1.5 million passengers last year across its 15 fixed routes in the state.

Annually, the organization brings in around $8.9 million in revenue, much of which is invested back to Portage County.

Every dollar put into public transportation generates $4 in economic return, according to the Ohio Loves Transit 2019 press release. Some of the money is used to purchase new equipment and keep operations running smoothly.

A significant portion of the money also goes to the federal government in taxes, coming back to Portage area residents in the form of grants. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the city a grant of $23 million for the Kent Central Gateway.

“It’s a thank you to the riders who pay daily,” Hairston said. “Many of them are seniors with disabilities.”

For fixed routes, fare is usually $1, though riders who are 65 or older are eligible for discounted rides.

Alex Johnson is the transportation reporter. Contact him at [email protected]