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Buckshuttle starts Fri

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Buckhead shuttle starts service Nov. 21

By MILO IPPOLITO

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Buckhead's free shuttle bus is unwrapped and ready to roll.

The shuttle will connect Buckhead's major office buildings and hotels with Phipps Plaza, Lenox Square, two MARTA stations and shops and restaurants in the uptown business district. The service opens to the public Nov. 21, just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The first of a fleet of 10 buses was delivered last week and kept hidden until Wednesday at the Coach USA bus garage in Norcross. The buses will begin testing out the route, closed to the public -- until the official launch date.

The 22-seat buses are about three quarters the size of a MARTA bus. They are painted bright white with logos and lettering in moss green and violet. Emblazoned on each side is the name of the service:

"The BUC." (That's short for Buckhead Uptown Connection.)

On the front is the slogan: "The BUC stops here." But the most eye-grabbing words on the bus are: "Free Ride!"

The buses are equipped with bike racks and wheelchair lifts and run on natural gas.

Defibrillators, those jumper cables for the heart that are being installed in public places, are another special feature.

The devices were secured through the Buckhead Coalition, said Denise Starling, director of the Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association. Drivers are being trained in how to use them in emergencies, she said.

"If we're there and are able to help, we will," Starling said.

The shuttles also have radio contact with the Atlanta Police Department. Officials from the Zone 2 police precinct are training drivers how to spot and report suspicious activity along the route, Starling said.

"We're not adding police, but we're adding eyes and ears," she said.

Coach USA has been awarded the contract to run the shuttles.

Buses will get fuel at a MARTA bus garage and link to MARTA's rail system at the Buckhead and Lenox stations.

The shuttle will run in a five-mile loop designed to avoid traffic as much as possible, cutting through back alleys, building driveways and parking lots. It will stop at both malls, most hotels and about 20 office towers along the way.

The route does not reach the Buckhead Village nightclub district, Lindbergh Center or residential neighborhoods.

The shuttle is scheduled to run every 15 minutes weekdays only. There is no late-night or weekend service.

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Hopefully this is will lead to a light rail system, which I recall being part of the intent of this system in the first place. But obviously, that won't be happening anytime soon.

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Free buses make so much sense. Definitely pay for themselves in savings from parking a car, air pollution, noise, slow traffic. I wish they had them is Boston. They do have a bus trolly that goes around DT and cambridge for a single daily charge, but its like $22/day.

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Free buses make so much sense. Definitely pay for themselves in savings from parking a car, air pollution, noise, slow traffic. I wish they had them is Boston. They do have a bus trolly that goes around DT and cambridge for a single daily charge, but its like $22/day.

That's expensive!

I like the shuttle buses/trolley idea. I think it's a huge plus for most cities with traffic problems and they can be funded and operated with very low fares. Free is even better, gets people use to moving around without their car.

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Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin was the first passenger to board Buckhead's new free shuttle bus service Friday.

"Buckhead is one of the great retail amd commercial centers of the Southeast," Franklin said.

"People come here from all over the country, all over the world. Now, we've made it easier for them to get around."

The shuttle connects Buckhead's major office buildings and hotels with Phipps Plaza, Lenox Square, two MARTA stations and shops and restaurants in the uptown business district.

The 22-seat buses are about three quarters the size of a MARTA bus. The service has been named The BUC (short for Buckhead Uptown Connection).

The shuttles run about every 15 minutes between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday on a five-mile loop.

The service is funded with federal transit money and revenue from a special tax district which collects money from area commercial property owners.

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