Transit discusses road work, revenue

WEIRTON – Members of the Weirton Transit Corp. Board of Trustees discussed local construction projects, deviations from the main bus route and budget concerns at Wednesday’s regular meeting.

No bids were returned on two vehicles, a 12-passenger bus and an 18-passenger bus, that have reached maturity and need to be sold, according to officials. Alternatives are being explored, including advertising the buses on sites like eBay and Craigslist.

Transit Manager Kevin Beynon reported that ridership for February was up by 558 customers from last year, making a total of 4,409 passengers for the month.

Beynon then addressed the construction on Main Street as well as upcoming work on Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I don’t know how a lot of people in the community feel, but as far as Weirton Transit Corp. goes, our hats are off to Butch Mastrantoni (utilities director) in particular with the city and Shawn Delaney, project manager for Alex Paris Construction and their work downtown on Main Street,” Beynon said. “They have communicated with us extremely well. They are in constant telephone conversation with us, letting us know which intersections are going to be closed, when they’re going to be closed, what the traffic patterns are going to be. If we could get that type of cooperation from all the construction companies around here when they go to work we would be in fantastic shape. The cooperation from them has just been tremendous. They have really gone out of their way, and it’s been a huge help trying to keep our buses on schedule. We’ll be very lucky if we have half as good communication with the construction company that just began work on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

According to officials, 58 percent of WTC’s riders are being picked up and dropped off on routes deviating from the main route, costing an excess of time and gasoline. Options to help solve this issue range from cutting services to raising fares. Members ultimately voted unanimously to consider raising the fare from $2 to $4 for deviated services only, and regular fares would remain the same. Their hope is that $2 extra will be enough to encourage riders who live only one or two blocks from the main route to walk to it rather than costing the bus extra time, which can often lead to other passengers being late. Two public hearings, which have not been scheduled yet, will be held in consideration of the fare hike before a decision is reached.

Members also voted to approve the 2014-2015 draft budget. The WTC requested an additional $3,000 this year, but city officials have warned them that it’s “highly unlikely” they will receive that increase as a result of across-the-board cutbacks.

Beynon encouraged fellow members to try to attend the special committee meetings being planned. These budget talks will be to help evaluate potential sources of new revenue and to rank city services.

An executive session was held to discuss financial matters before the monthly meeting was adjourned.

(Dalrymple can be contacted at sdalrymple@heraldstaronline.com)