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      Free Columbia city bus rides

      Columbia Transit made it easy for city bus riders to live a little greener today in celebration of Earth Hour.

      All Columbia city buses were completely free to riders on Saturday as the city celebrated the annual tradition of Earth Hour. Thatâ??s when millions of people across the world switch off their lights for one hour to show their commitment to energy conservation. Riders told me they didnâ??t care about the reason. They just wanted the free ride.

      Trent Spindler said, â??I didnâ??t know it was going to happen until I got on. Itâ??s pretty nice. It saves you money.â??

      Don Foster said, â??I appreciate a free ride. My main mode of operation is getting the bus.â??

      Carlos Harding said, â??All I have is 2 dollars. I can use that money some day for gas money. I like it. Itâ??s good to have a surprise every now and then, especially when you really need it.â??

      A bus ticket costs a $1.50. Low-income riders, senior citizens and disabled people pay 75 cents. City officials wanted to make sure that everyone had the chance to hop on the bus for free. Riders also enjoyed free rides last Thursday when the city officially kicked-off the Earth Hour celebration before many students left for spring break. Bus driver Denise Gambino liked giving her riders a break, even if it was for just one day.

      Gambino said, â??I think it just makes the job more enjoyable if you visit with them and let them know that you care and let them know that you are here for them.â??

      Columbia Transit officials hope the free rides encourage their riders to go beyond the Earth Hour and live a more earth-friendly life every day.

      The world-wide Earth Hour event is tonight from 8:30-9:30pm.