Bus 24

Bus 24, the newest bus in the Richland County Transit fleet, is the first with plastic seats.

MANSFIELD -- Public transit opportunities will soon expand with the addition of a Go Bus stop in Mansfield.

Jill Rohr, transit fiscal officer for Richland County Transit, confirmed RCT signed a contract with Go Bus during its monthly meeting Wednesday.

Go Bus is a federally-subsidized intercity bus service that connects various smaller communities across Ohio to larger cities such as Columbus and Cleveland.

The buses have on-board restrooms, WiFi and air conditioning. Ticket prices vary in price, according to the Go Bus website, depending on the desired routes.

RCT has yet to announce the details of the arrangement, such as a start date and available routes, but Mansfield's Go Bus stop will be at the Stanton Transit Center, 74 S. Diamond St.

For example, a Mansfield-to-Columbus ticket for $10 is now available on the Go Bus website. A Mansfield-to-Wooster ticket is available for $5.

"I'm super excited," said Jotika Shetty, executive director of the Richland County Regional Planning Commission. "We've talked about making sure that people had options to travel to Columbus and Cleveland. I think this is a great step towards making sure those links are in place."

Jennifer Gray, manager of transportation services for Richland Newhope Industries, said she was excited about what the service could mean for her clients.

"The people we serve, they have a very real need to connect with the community," said Gray. "It's a great thing to open up a whole new avenue for them to express themselves and be a part of the community."

Go Bus isn't the only public transit development coming to the area. RCT will be adding a new bus this month. The bus, purchased in July, will hit the streets after various customizations and tests.

"We're hoping to get three more through ODOT," Rohr said.

Rohr is submitting an application this week for a grant that could fund the buses, plus real time security cameras and consultant services for RCT.

According to Rohr, a consulting firm could provide reports to help the board decide how feasible it would be to expand its services.

"We want to see how lucrative it is to expand into Lexington and other places," said Rohr.

The RCT currently operates nine day time routes in Mansfield. The routes are flagstop services, meaning riders can get on the bus anywhere on the route by flagging a bus down. They can get off the bus at any point along the route by alerting the driver.

"We have stops up to let people know that the bus comes through that area, you don't necessarily have to be at that stop," said Chris Terry, general manager of RCT.