SARTA offers free rides on holiday weekends

Public transportation in Stark County will be free this holiday weekend through a partnership with the Stark County Sheriff’s Office.
SARTA will offer free bus rides on Fridays and Saturdays to promote safe driving over the holiday weekend. According to SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad, the Stark County Sheriff’s Office approached SARTA with the idea as part of the Stark County Safe Communities Coalition, which aims to reduce traffic-related fatalities. The goal of the program is to provide a safe ride home for community members.

Kirt Conrad

Kirt Konrad is the CEO of SARTA.

“You just get on the bus,” Conrad said. “You don’t need any tickets or anything to ride for free, so anyone who gets on the bus on those two days will be transported for free.”

The holiday season causes an increase in travel, and many festive events are accompanied by alcohol. Conrad hopes this initiative will keep Stark County’s roads safe.

Alcohol-related car accidents increased in December between 2020 and 2021, according to the sheriff’s office. Stark County recorded 21 alcohol-related car accidents in 2020 and 36 in 2021.

Konrad hopes other transit authorities will follow suit. No other local transportation agency offers a similar program this year.

“I think, yes, it would be good if other transportation systems noticed this just because, as I said, there are really a lot of deaths in these two days,” Konrad said, “so if we can do something something to do as an industry to help curb those numbers, hopefully we can do it.”

Drivers do not need to show a ticket or coupon to get a free ride. They just need to get on the bus to ride for free.

SARTA operates 34 fixed routes in Alliance, Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Hartville, Jackson Township, Louisville, Massillon, North Canton and Uniontown.

The Stark County Safe Communities Coalition is committed to spreading awareness of traffic-related injuries and working to reduce accidents and injuries. The coalition is working with law enforcement, local governments, schools, businesses, health departments and community organizations to reduce road traffic injuries through education and programs.

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