POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commissioners met on Thursday afternoon and discussed the public bus system in the county.
Paula Smith, executive director of TriRiver Transit, spoke to the commission about updates coming to the bus routes and schedules.
Smith said Mason County just finished its first year with TriRiver Transit. In the first year, the bus system transported over 3,600 riders. Smith said the number of riders is currently down 50 percent, which is better than the 60 percent decrease earlier in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smith said at the beginning of the pandemic, the bus service was limited to essential services. TriRiver Transit returned to the regular schedule at the beginning of June.
Smith said a couple of the drivers had to quarantine due to possible exposure, but the company has had no positive cases.
During the last few months, Smith said they have evaluated the schedules. For the Mason County bus routes, Smith said there have not been many passengers going to Target, therefore, the drivers will meet another bus at the fire department in Lesage to transfer passengers. Smith said the Mason County buses will be adding stops in Henderson and Apple Grove.
The new TriRiver Transit bus schedule will begin on Oct. 12 and will be on the website the weekend before.
Smith suggested making a scheduled day to take passengers to the Huntington Mall. Passengers will call and make an appointment to go.
Smith said the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and Behavioral Health will provide services for passengers going to any type of drug or alcohol abuse recovery program.
Commission President Rick Handley said he had a conversation with a bus driver to see why people are using the public bus system. Handley said before the pandemic, many people were using the bus to visit friends and family members. Others were riding the bus to go to Walmart in Mason. For the non-emergency medical transportation, many riders were going to rehabilitation or doctors appointments at Pleasant Valley Hospital.
Smith said she believes the year has been successful for Mason County.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.