Mass transit coming to Lawrence County

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2007

It’s been a long wait for some, but TTA-Ohio buses are definitely going to be available in Lawrence County next year.

A new bus service connecting the Tri-State is targeted to begin running on July 1, 2008, in Lawrence County.

We’re purchasing five buses,” said Mike Payne, director of public transportation, Community Action Organization.

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Two 35-foot buses will be running from Proctorville to Ironton Monday through Friday.

Two 25-foot buses will be running from Ironton to Ashland with a connection in Ironton Hills where a park and ride will be available. One 25-foot bus will be used as a backup.

The purchase price of the buses is nearly $1 million.

A bus will run from Proctorville to Huntington with major stops St. Mary’s Medical Center, Marshall University and Cabell-Huntington Hospital.

“We’re still in the planning stages,” Payne said. “We have the money, we have the grants.”

The county received three grants for the transportation system. One grant came from the Federal Transit Authority, one from KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission, a transportation planning agency in the Tri-State, and an operations grant came from the federal government.

The route will run in Lawrence County primarily on Lawrence County Road 1, he said.

“The whole idea for this is to transport Lawrence countians to where they need to go,” Payne said. “We will run to Ashland, we will run to King’s Daughters, we will run to the Town Center.”

The Lawrence County Port Authority is the designee for the grant and they contracted Community Action Organization to administrator the grant. They have contracted with Tri-state Transit Authority out of Huntington, W.Va., to operate the Lawrence County transportation system.

Partnering with TTA brings their experience and professionalism to operate the buses, he said.

To have TTA operate the system, it is estimated to cost about $600,000 per year.

“That’s a rough estimate,” Payne said.

TTA has a reputation for being on time and they are very conscientious, he said.

“There will not be any running late,” he said. “We’ve built in a bit of a cushion into the bus stops, approximately five minutes both ways.”

Cost for people using the bus will be based on TTA’s prices and at the present time, it is 75 cents per ride.

“In Ironton, for example, it’s going to run all day long, every 30 minutes but four times a day, we will extend it over into Ashland — King’s Daughters, Bellefonte, Wal-Mart, whatever it may be,” he said. “Roughly, it’s going to run 6 (a.m.) to 6 (p.m.) Monday through Friday.”

Some of the bus stops will have shelters and there will be at least 20 specific stops.

But, if someone can’t get to a bus stop, they can flag the bus to stop.

For people who cannot physically get to the bus stop, they will arrange some kind of transportation for them.

All the buses will be handicap accessible with lock downs and a lift for wheel chairs.

An Ohio link will be set up on the TTA Web site for people to check the bus schedule.

Express runs may be available for some events, such as, Marshall ball games, but it must be put into the schedule, he said.

“We will have specific scheduling out to the public at least a couple of months before the startup, but I’m still working and maneuvering and making sure we’re getting all the major stops included,” Payne said.