MASON COUNTY — This summer, a new transportation option will be available to Mason County residents.
John Machir, housing director of the Mason County Homeless Shelter and Simms Housing, shared a public transportation system for Mason County is expected to begin by July 1.
This public transportation system is designed for everyone including residents, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, children, and visitors to the county. The buses for Tri-River Transit will have designated bus stops as well as stop times, but will also work as a “flag fare” operation, where individuals can flag the bus down to stop while its on route. The buses are handicap accessible and can be used for non-emergency transportation for trips to the hospital.
Mason County will be provided with two buses, one as the main operational bus and one as the alternate, explained Machir. The two drivers for the buses will be hired locally.
The bus will be running three days a week, 10-12 hours a day to start.
Paula Smith, executive director of Tri-River Transit, is still working to finalize the exact routes for the system. The proposed route includes coverage from New Haven to Ashton as well as a couple trips offered across the bridge to Gallipolis, Ohio. Trips to Huntington may be offered as well.
Machir shared a few of the confirmed bus stops in Mason County will include the Housing Authority of the City of Point Pleasant, Piggly Wiggly in Point Pleasant, Mason County Homeless Shelter in Point Pleasant, Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant, Mid-Ohio Valley Center (MOVC) in Point Pleasant, Wal-Mart in Mason, and the New Haven Community Center.
The bus will make approximately four round trips each day.
The bus schedule will be the exact same each week. Bus fare varies, one way bus fare is $1 each time a passenger boards the bus, additional fare of $1 is charged for every zone line crossed, and one way fare for a route deviation service is $2 each time a passenger boards the bus. Tri-River Transit employees can work with certain organizations in communities to offer special ticket options such as the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).
Machir explained a “dial-a-ride” will also be offered by Tri-River Transit to riders for $14. A few other incentives will include a fare-free week for riders when the transportation system first opens and in the summertime youth under the age of 18 will be able to ride free.
“I really think it will be (beneficial) for a lot of reasons,” said Machir. “First of all there’s a terrible need for it, there are a lot of people who do not have transportation. How many of us have seen people walking the sidewalks or in areas where there are no sidewalks…people who are disabled, seniors who need it, people who need it to get to the DHHR or the hospital for appointments, those that need to get to mental health (appointments), or the Day Report Center…there are a lot of people who will really benefit.”
Entities in Mason County worked together to raise the funding for this transportation system which Machir is very appreciative. He shared $10,000 was donated by the Southwestern Community Action Council, Inc. and the remaining sums were donated by the Mason County Commission, Pleasant Valley Hospital, and the mayors and their councils throughout the county.
A few years ago, Mason County was looking into having a public transportation system. Machir is really pleased with the support given for this public transportation system.
Within the next few weeks, Tri-River Transit will be releasing updated information regarding the finalized bus routes.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.