MASON COUNTY, W.Va. — In July, TriRiver Transit started running bus routes in Mason County, which offered a public transportation option in the county.
From July though the end of December, there were 1,376 rides from passengers, according to data provided by TriRiver Transit. Of those rides, 282 were in December, which is an increase form the 200 rides in November. The public transportation runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the cost is $1 per passenger per ride. Children 5 years old and under ride free.
Mason County’s routes with TriRiver go from New Haven to Ashton on Route 2. The bus stops at grocery stores, schools, apartment buildings and medical offices. The drivers will pick up and drop off passengers anywhere along the route as long as they are waved down or cords in the bus are pulled. The bus route begins at 6:15 a.m. in New Haven and will end there at approximately 8:22 p.m.
The bus also makes one drop-off and one pick-up at the Merritts Creek Plaza in Barboursville.
TriRiver Transit also offers non-emergency transportation for medical reasons, such as doctor appointments or dialysis. The non-emergency rides must be scheduled and run Monday through Friday. The fees for this transportation can be billed through medicaid or paid privately per mile.
Paula Smith, executive director of TriRiver Transit for Mason and other counties in West Virginia, said they are hoping to add a stop in Gallipolis, Ohio, in the future. Smith said that applications were filed several months ago, but they are waiting on the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Mason County Commissioner Rick Handley, who also serves on the TriRiver Transit board on behalf of the commission, said the public transportation was brought to fruition through initial funding by the Southwest Community Action, City of Point Pleasant, Pleasant Valley Hospital and the Mason County Commissioners.
“It’s been a godsend to Mason County,” Handley said. “If you look at the numbers, the 282 (rides) in December, that’s people who did not have to beg a neighbor or a relative to travel from one part of Mason County to another.”
Although the transit system does provide non-emergency medial transportation, Handley and Smith stressed that the bus system was for everyone. It allows people to travel to a job, continue their education at the Mid-Ohio Valley Center, gives independence to elderly, and helps shut-ins socialize.
Smith said all of the vehicles used by TriRiver are handicapped accessible.
“When you offer a public transportation, or any kind of transportation, to a community that didn’t have it, you’re helping your local businesses,” Smith said. “Your helping people get preventative healthcare that they couldn’t get before.”
The routes with estimated arrival times can be found at TriRiver.org.
Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.