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SVRTA service changes detailed to council

TRANSIT CHANGES — Tim Turner, left, transit manager, and Jerry Thomas, director of maintenance and operations for Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority, discuss planned changes in routes and service during Tuesday’s meeting of City Council. -- Ross Gallabrese

STEUBENVILLE — Changes in services offered by Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority will make the system easier to use and open new opportunities for travel across the Tri-State Area, members of City Council learned Tuesday evening.

“We are changing routes and expanding coverage,” said Jerry Thomas, director of maintenance and operations for the authority.

Thomas and Tim Turner, SVRTA transit manager, discussed the improvements to the transit system at the request of 1st Ward Councilwoman Asantewa Anyabwile.

“We had public hearings and discussions with our drivers and saw a need that wasn’t being served in any of our communities,” Thomas said. “We have been able to develop routes and use strategic methods of using the assets that we currently have.”

Among the biggest changes will be the expansion of daily service from 6 a.m. to 8:05 p.m. beginning Oct. 11. Thomas added service then will be extended south to Rayland, where riders will be able to connect with buses operated by the Eastern Ohio and Ohio Valley regional transit authorities.

That expansion will make it possible for riders to reach areas including the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville and the Highlands near Wheeling.

Thomas added SVRTA’s service to Robinson Township is expanding to 13 1/2 hours. That service allows riders to connect with the Airport Corridor Transportation Association and Allegheny County’s Port Authority Transit to reach businesses and shopping areas, Pittsburgh International Airport and downtown Pittsburgh.

Business in the area served by ACTA employ 80,000 people, Thomas said. Longer and more frequent service to Robinson will open up employment opportunities for residents of the Steubenville area who depend on public transit, he added.

Thomas said service has been expanded in the LaBelle section of the city, as well as along Fourth Street, University Boulevard and Lincoln Heights. The Wintersville and Mingo Junction routes have been revamped so that they begin and end at the transit center on Adams Street, with the start time of service moving to 6:45 a.m. Service between downtown and the Kroger store in the Hollywood Plaza has been expanded, they said.

Thomas and Turner said the changes are part of an extensive upgrade of the system, which includes refurbished bus shelters, new schedules which are easier to read and new signage which will make it easier for customers to determine which bus they need to be on. Upgrades are planned for the SVRTA website and app, they added.

It’s all designed to make it more convenient for riders to navigate across the 123 dedicated stops along the local system.

“Along with expanding our times and expanding our coverage, we have been able to provide more direct transportation, fewer transfers and minimal wait times,” he added.

Also during the meeting, 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul and 3rd Ward Councilman Eric Timmons said they had been approached by several residents about issues in the 3100 block of Central Avenue. Paul said he had heard several complaints about a house in that neighborhood that was not listed as a rental property being used as a rental property, apparently in violation of the city’s Neighborhood Conservation District regulations.

He said he had visited the area and noted several cars with out-of-state license plates parked near the house.

Timmons said he had heard from residents who questioned why parking was allowed on both sides of the street, which makes it difficult to travel through that area.

Paul said Chris Petrossi, director of the city’s planning and zoning commission, had been notified and will be looking into the concerns.

City Manager Jim Mavromatis, meanwhile, told council inspectors on last Wednesday and Thursday visited a property on Oak Grove Avenue that had been the subject of a complaint at last week’s meeting. At issue were concerns about problems with a landlord who did not maintain a neighboring property. Mavromatis said inspectors found four violations and had issued citations. A minor issue also was found on the complainant’s property, he said.

In other matters:

* Council unanimously approved the third reading of an ordinance that authorizes the approval of expenditures more than $3,000 without a purchase order;

* Council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance repealing the existing table of organization and replacing it with a new table of organization;

* Members heard the second reading of a resolution accepting the tax rates and certifying levies to the Jefferson County auditor;

* Paul sunshined an emergency ordinance that would allow for the purchase of new radio equipment for the police and fire departments. The current radios are obsolete, he explained. Mavromatis said he hoped money from the city’s share of the American Rescue Plan could be used to cover the purchase cost of more than $140,000 for the police department and $83,637 for the fire department.

* Members approved the appointment of Lynette Gorman to the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority board;

* Council heard from Charles Burch of Arlington Avenue who requested Piece of Pie Park be reopened. The park, which sits at the angled intersection of Woodlawn Road and McDowell Avenue in the LaBelle section of the city, has been closed since 2014. Fourth Ward Councilman Scott Dressel explained that Burch’s request would have to come through the city’s Parks and Recreation Board. Recreation Director Lori Fetherolf said the board was aware of Burch’s request and planned to discuss it at next month’s meeting.

* Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn said the meeting of the Friends of Beatty Park had been moved to 7 p.m. today at the clubhouse.

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