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FREE-RIDE BUSES LIKELY TO ROLL IN LOGAN BY THE END OF APRIL

Free-ride buses should be rolling down city streets by the end of April if all goes as planned, according to Logan Transit District officials.

The city recently got the first two of a nine-bus fleet and is inspecting the vehicles to see if they meet city standards. Also, nearly all bus drivers have been hired and have begun training.No-cost ridership is "a very interesting experiment," said Michael L. Noonchester, transit manager for the Logan Transit District, who said there is sufficient funding to try free ridership for at least one and possibly two years.

"It's probably a very good thing to do to introduce transit ridership in an area that hasn't had it in over 20 years."

He said a private firm offered bus service about 20 years ago, and there was a trolley 40 or 50 years ago.

Plans are to run three bus routes that connect in the city's center, where riders can transfer if needed.

"All the buses will have wheelchair lifts," Noon-chester said. "But for those who are unable to use the fixed-route service, we will have paratransit service. The person will need to call a day in advance and a bus will pick them up at their place of origin and take them to their destination."

Logan voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the bus program's operational costs. Federal grants will help buy equipment.

Noonchester estimated the taxes will generate between $800,000 to $900,000.

"The two (revenue sources) combined should permit us to provide this service," he said. "It's a very unusual situation to have voters approve increased taxation in a period of recession.

"There seems to be a very high level of awareness in the valley here of environmental and pollution issues. People are concerned about ending up with air quality like you have in Salt Lake."