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SARTA offering free rides over holiday weekend

Hyrogen fuel cell buses
Tim Rudell
SARTA is offering free rides over the holiday weekend.

Mass transit in Stark County will be free this holiday weekend thanks to a partnership with the Stark County Sheriff’s Office.
SARTA will be offering free bus rides on Friday and Saturday to promote safe driving over the holiday weekend. The Stark County Sheriff’s Office approached SARTA about the idea as part of the Stark County Safe Communities Coalition, which aims to decrease traffic related fatalities, SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad said. The goal of the program is to provide safe rides home for community members.

Kirt Conrad is the CEO of SARTA.

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

The holiday season causes an increase in travel, and many holiday celebrations include alcohol. Conrad hopes the initiative keeps Stark County roads safe.

According to the sheriff’s office, alcohol-related car crashes have risen in the month of December between 2020 and 2021. Stark County recorded 21 alcohol related car crashes in 2020 and 36 in 2021.

Conrad hopes other transit authorities will follow suit. This year, no other local transit agency is offering a similar program.

“I think, yes it would be good if other transit systems would pick up on this just because like I said the high number of fatalities that do happen on those two days," Conrad said, "so if there’s anything we can do as an industry to help curb those numbers, hopefully we can be doing that.”

Riders do not need to present 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 aims to spread a better understanding of traffic related injuries and works to reduce the number of crashes and injuries. The coalition works with law enforcement agencies, local governments, schools, businesses, health departments and community organizations to reduce traffic injuries through education and programming.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.