POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Public Transit Service is up and running, with the first week of operation being free to riders.
To kick off this service, a ribbon cutting ceremony and press conference was held at the Riverfront Park in Point Pleasant on Monday. Randy Damron from the West Virginia Division of Highways was the emcee for ceremony and gave the welcome and introduction of the speakers which included Director of Tri-River Transit Authority Paula Smith, Mayor of Point Pleasant Brian Billings, President of the Mason County Commission Rick Handley, Housing Director of the Mason County Homeless Shelter and Simms Housing and Board Member of the Southwestern Community Action Council John Machir, and Chief of Staff for West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, Mike Hall.
“Believe it or not, it was five months ago that this was only a dream and we believe this is a great opportunity to bring our citizens and their communities closer to one another by providing them a way to travel for their various needs,” said Handley.
“What a day for Point Pleasant, what a day for Mason County,” said Billings. “You know several months ago this project started using its footwork and its legs to become a reality and with the help of the county commission, the council, and staff members with the City of Point Pleasant and working with the Tri-River Transit Authority and others, here we are cutting the ribbon to provide the necessary transportation for our seniors, our homeless, and for folks like you and I that want to travel up and down this great Ohio River, perhaps we’ll even travel across the river or down to Barboursville, but the main purpose is seeing that we have transportation benefits for those that need it.”
Handley gave acknowledgements to special guests in attendance including Director of the West Virginia Division of Public Transit Bill Robinson, West Virginia State Senator Eric Tarr, Mason County Commissioners Tracy Doolittle and Sam Nibert, Chairman of the Southwest Community Action Council Board David Harris, Hamlin Mayor and Board Member of Tri-River Transit Authority David Adkins, Interim CEO of Pleasant Valley Hospital Connie Davis, City Clerk Amber Tatterson, Mayor of Mason Donna Dennis, Mayor of New Haven Greg Kaylor, New Haven Council Recorder Roberta Hysell, Mason County Superintendent Jack Cullen, Mason County School Board Member Rhonda Tennant, Mason County School Board Member Ashley Cossin, Mason County Circuit Clerk Elizabeth Jones, and City of Point Pleasant Councilwoman Leigh Ann Shepard. Handley also read aloud a letter sent by U.S. Representative Carol Miller.
“I would like to thank everyone who is gathered here today and not only the dignitaries and community leaders seated here today, but every man, woman, and child, Mason County residents of every stripe and walk of life because each of you are important to the future success of the transit system that we launch today…” said Machir. “I acted on a vision based on my 27 years of experience in social services that all residents in Mason County could access transportation equally and by so doing could have social and economic opportunities made available to them.”
After all of the speakers said their piece and the ribbon was cut in front of one of the Tri-River Transit buses, complimentary gift bags from the Tri-River Transit Authority were handed out to all who attended the ceremony and a reception with complimentary refreshments was held at the Mason County Board of the Education office.
Tri-River Transit, based in Lincoln County, is providing this public transit service which will operate on a deviated fixed route service three days per week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The deviated fixed route service will operate on a designated route through Apple Grove, Point Pleasant, Mason, New Haven, Clifton, Hartford, with limited stops at Barboursville where people can catch the Huntington public transit system and Gallipolis, Ohio. The bus will deviate up to ¾ of a mile off of the route when requested at least one day in advance. The fare for a trip deviation is $2 plus zone fare. The pick up and drop off locations will be at the curb. It is encouraged that riders arrive at the bus stops at least five minutes early. It is important to allow sufficient time to be at the bus stop for the return trip as it is important not to miss the bus ride home, especially if it is the last trip of the day.
Four drivers, all from Point Pleasant, have been hired to run the two buses. Handley commented they are still looking for one more part-time driver to be hired. One bus will be running the scheduled routes and the other bus will be used as a dial-a-ride service on a first come, first served basis and require at least 48 hours advanced notice. One way bus fare is $1 each time a passenger boards a bus. One way deviated fixed route service is $2 each time a passenger boards a bus. Zone fare is an additional $1.
Copies of the bus schedule can be picked up at the Mason County Courthouse or found online at https://tririver.org/mobile.
Erin (Perkins) Johnson is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.