• 55°

Bus service upgrades improve Tri-State links

Getting around the Tri-State without the expense of driving a personal car and the hassle of parking it is the mission of the new Ohio Valley Commuter Express, which will have its debut on Monday.

“There will be fewer (stops) and in turn we can go by bus from one location to another faster and it allows greater frequency of runs,” Ralph Kline, of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, said.

The buses will run from the transit centers in Ironton, Huntington, W.Va., and Ashland, Ky.

Right now to go from Ironton to the Huntington transit center on Fourth Avenue by bus takes about an hour and 15 minutes because of those stops. With the express that time will be cut in half.

“If you are a Marshall student, you can get on a Wi-Fi-equipped bus and work on last-minute homework and be at Marshall in 35 to 40 minutes,” Kline said.

Buses start from Transit Café on Second Street at 6:45 a.m. Monday through Friday and run until 6:10 p.m. A shuttle van will run from far points in Ironton such as Ironton Hills Plaza, Storms Creek, Ohio University Southern and St. Mary’s Medical Center-Ironton Campus to the transit center. Another shuttle will take riders from Lawrence Manor, Macedonia Road, Division Street and U.S. Bank in the South Point area to a pickup point by the Walmart in South Point where riders can get express buses to their destinations. There will also be a pickup point at the Ceredo-Kenova Plaza.

The runs are geared to college students and commuters, but can be beneficial to other riders. A recent survey shows that two out of every five Ironton residents go to Huntington every day, spending money on gasoline and parking.

“This is providing a convenience,” Kline said. “Try it for a month and see how much extra (gas) money in a month you have.”

With more runs there will be fewer riders cooling their heels at one of the three transit centers.

“One of the biggest complaints we get is people come in and have to wait so long,” Mike Payne, director of transportation, said. “Our main buses will run clockwise and counterclockwise so you won’t have to wait in the center.”

The new express service kicks off with a two-hour event at the Ironton Transit Center starting at 9 until 11 a.m. Free month-long bus passes will be given away along with door prizes at the kick off. Regular price for a month-long pass is $35.

“We want people to jump on a bus,” Payne said. “You can look at schedules but sometimes you need to get on and ride. We want people to ride.”