IT'S NOT QUITE the same as McDonald's, whose signs boast "99 billion served" or some unfathomable number, but Annapolis' fast-growing public transportation system reached a milestone last week.
Annapolis Transit served its millionth passenger for the fiscal year when Peggy Clorety took the Yellow Route bus at 7:30 a.m. last Thursday to head for jury duty. It may not be exact. Perhaps Ms. Clorety is passenger No. 999,995 or 1,000,002, but either way, she's close enough.
City transportation officials made a big show of their millionth passenger to illustrate how successful the six-route system has become.
While the rest of Maryland is struggling -- and failing -- to substantially increase ridership on buses and rail routes, Annapolis Transportation is winning over riders in the crowded city of 35,000 and in Parole.
In fiscal year 1996, the bus system had no million-passenger club. It carried riders on 588,300 trips. Over the past four years, fare box revenue has increased from $386,900 to a projected $552,320 for the fiscal year that ends June 30.
The increase is impressive but necessary. Annapolis has a terrible parking problem. The city wants to demolish old buildings on West Street, outside of downtown, for a large parking garage. That plan is on hold for now.
Even if the parking garage is built, that might not be enough to accommodate traffic. The city should proceed with plans to push satellite parking at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Commuters can park there and ride shuttle buses to businesses and government offices.
Area commuters who haven't taken the Annapolis Transit buses should give them a spin. They're cheap, just 75 cents a trip, and operate seven days a week.
Five of the six routes interconnect at Church Circle, near the State House.
The system's success shows that transit works when it runs well and is well-run.