WTC picks committee to study off-route passengers

WEIRTON – Members of the Weirton Transit Corp. designated a special committee to tackle the issue of deviations from the main bus route at Wednesday’s board meeting.

A driver position remains open despite advertising online and in local newspapers. Officials have not received any new applications, and staff is struggling to make up for the vacancy on a daily basis, according to Transit Manager Kevin Beynon.

Beynon reported that ridership for May was up by more than 900 customers from last year, making a total of 5,849 passengers for the month; roughly a 20 percent increase. He added that ridership was up by at least 600 passengers for the month of June so far.

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 fuel. This has been exacerbated by construction in recent months. Options to help solve this issue range from cutting service to raising fare. Members have mulled over various actions during several meetings this year, but haven’t yet landed on a solid solution.

Transit board members Debbie Larch, Clemmie Frierson and Brian Maley will comprise a special committee to research the problem and develop a proposal in a workshop scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday.

Their hope is that some kind of policy change, potentially a separate, more expensive bus pass for deviated pickup locations, will 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.

One public hearing, which has not been scheduled yet, will be held in consideration of any measure the committee decides to move forward with.

Beynon directed an apology to Weirton City Council during the meeting, saying that he spoke too soon at May’s regular meeting in connection with budget concerns.

“I had not realized that there are opportunities for us to speak to them as a group and improve communication. We will exercise the ability to do that soon, but again, I apologize,” he said.

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

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