by Joe Wyatt Published September 14, 2020 Amarillo City Transit not only upgraded its fleet of buses over the summer, it extended its free-rides partnership with Amarillo College until at least mid-August of 2023. Even though the transit system is not charging anyone to ride its buses during the pandemic – a safeguard to streamline the boarding process – AC students, faculty and staff already were riding free. That’s because the City and the College launched a partnership in August of 2019 that entitles anyone with an AC identification card to ride free of charge, inclusive of all City bus routes and Spec-Trans services, 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. But while the community-wide suspension of fares will expire in October 2021, the AC-City partnership will continue unabated until Aug. 15, 2023, and possibly beyond. An additional extension of the partnership is at least partly dependent upon a demonstrated demand for bus services from within the AC community. “Although the entire community can ride free of charge for another year, we’re asking AC riders to please continue to present their College ID cards when they use our buses so that we can keep an accurate count,” Amarillo Transit Director Marita Wellage-Reiley said. “We are excited to extend our partnership with the College until August of 2023,” she said. “Hopefully, the data we are able to collect between now and then will lead to an additional extension of our affiliation that lets everyone in the AC family continue riding City buses for free even beyond 2023.” City bus Routes 41 and 42 serve AC’s Washington Street Campus, while Routes 11 and 43 serve the West Campus. However, Wellage-Reiley wants AC patrons to be fully aware that they are entitled to free rides wherever city buses go, six days a week (buses do not run on Sundays). Wellage-Reiley also wants everyone to know that the City’s Spec-Trans system provides service for certified citizens of Amarillo who cannot physically use accessible fixed-route buses and require pickup and assistance from trained operators. To become a certified Spec-Trans client, just complete and return an application to Amarillo City Transit. Instructions for returning the application are on page 3 of the application. Additionally, Wellage-Reiley points out that Amarillo City Transit is providing free door-to-door service for anyone who books a COVID-19 test through the Amarillo Public Health Department. Those who contact the health department and receive an individual code number for an appointment to be tested can then contact Amarillo City Transit at 378-3095 and make arrangements for personalized transportation to and from the health department facilities. Other than the driver, those entitled to this service will be the only passenger on board. All Amarillo City Transit vehicles are cleaned and disinfected after each trip into the downtown terminal, and they are deep-cleaned nightly. Passengers 10 and older are required to wear face coverings onboard, and social distancing is observed. “We are doing everything we can to protect everybody concerned,” Wellage-Reiley said.