Transit rider is one in a million

City heaps prizes on its millionth public passenger

June 16, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

For her first time riding the Annapolis shuttle trolley on her way to jury duty yesterday, Peggy Clorety made out pretty well.

Hopping the shuttle after parking at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium lot, the Crownsville woman was tagged as the city's millionth public transit passenger by the mayor and Department of Transportation officials.

The resulting honors bestowed upon her were a $50 gift certificate to Phillips Restaurant, complimentary stay at the Annapolis Marriott, a handful of instant lottery tickets, a golf shirt and cap. She also was given the choice of a one-year transit pass or three hours of trolley rides.

"This is really rather fun," said Clorety.

Clorety, 57, might not have been precisely the millionth passenger, but city officials had estimated that based on daily ridership calculations, the millionth rider would board during the morning work rush yesterday.

For the city's Department of Transportation, which has seen an increase of more than 100,000 riders annually over the last four years, the million mark was no small matter.

Transit officials boarded the Yellow Route bus at 7:30 p.m., armed with water bottles, pencils, coin pouches, lottery tickets and free bus passes.

Mayor Dean L. Johnson, wearing a tie with buses on it, greeted each passenger. The passengers were showered with prizes - most of which carried the department's logo.

Paul M. Foer, the department's energetic marketing specialist, asked trivia questions for prizes, such as, "Who is the mayor of Annapolis?" and "Who is the state's governor?"

Unfortunately for Johnson, no one could remember the mayor's name, and one woman offered that the governor of Maryland was Bill Clinton.

Still, no one walked off the bus empty-handed.

"It's not supposed to be a civics lesson," Foer said.

Route supervisors reported the number of passengers during the morning to Foer over two-way radio as he moved the prize patrol to the Red Route bus. Then, by 8:30 a.m., as transit officials boarded the shuttle trolley driven by Carl Barnes, they were ready to find the lucky rider.

Clorety had driven to downtown Annapolis yesterday for her fourth day of jury duty, but she couldn't find a parking space - a common problem in downtown Annapolis where garages often fill before 9 a.m.

On the recommendation of another juror, she parked at the stadium lot.

Although she isn't a regular rider and will likely continue to look for downtown parking before choosing the stadium lot next time, Clorety's story represents a growing problem in the city - the parking crunch.

Johnson said public transportation, including an improved shuttle system, is a key component to ease the city's parking situation. The Transportation Department has undertaken a campaign to promote parking at the stadium lot, which has 1,500 spaces, and using the shuttle system to get downtown.

Eventually, Johnson said, he'd like to see Annapolis become more like Williamsburg, Va., where people park on the city's perimeter and take buses in.

In his budget for fiscal 2001, money has been allocated to improve the shuttle system by reducing trip time and increasing its availability.

"The better and better the services become, the more customers we'll have," Johnson said.

Clorety said after her first trip on the shuttle that she was satisfied.

"This is very handy," she said as the shuttle headed to the Anne Arundel County Courthouse.

"I'm surprised I'm making good time."

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