In 2005, Americans took just less than 10 billion trips on public transit systems across the country. But this number doesn’t include a small but important niche of transit-dependent citizens.
Marines living in the barracks of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina find themselves stranded without a local form of transit. At 246 square miles, Camp Lejeune is the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast, and most Marines stationed there have no access to personal vehicles. Addressing this problem, the base bus system was established to provide rides to all eligible Marines and military employees.
“The buses are open to all military ID card holders,” said Roy Cornell, the operations director for base motor transport. “At no cost to the Marines, we make regular stops at the exchange, medical, dental and a variety of other locations on base.”
On weekdays, there are two buses operating. Base bus No. 1 travels to and from Courthouse Bay while base bus No. 2 travels to and from Camp Geiger and Camp Johnson near the barracks. On weekends and holidays, base bus No. 3 travels to and from all of these places.
“The drivers keep track of how many people enter the bus at each stop,” said Cornell. “If the numbers are high enough to sustain the route, then the bus will continue to stop there.”
In order to get a stop added to the existing bus schedule, Marines can lobby their commanding officer to submit a letter, justifying the need for the addition, according to Cornell.
“All requests are taken into consideration and forwarded up the proper chain of command,” said Cornell.
Ultimately, the base bus system is just another example of how important public transportation is to any community. “Save your money,” said Cornell. “Calling a taxi might be more convenient, but 10 bucks here and there can add up quickly.”