Start of Pocahontas MTA Bus Routes as Soon as September 3rd
The biggest news coming out of the August 12th meeting about the Mountain Transit Authority’s start-up in Pocahontas County is that they seem to be settling in on three routes with service on two of those to possibly begin in September. Tim Thomas, the MTA CEO, said that MTA commuter service to Interstate Hardwoods and a local Marlinton Loop, which would include service to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH) could start as soon as September 3rd, while the third route, a commuter route to Snowshoe Resort would possibly begin in late November or early December to correspond with the beginning of the ski season.
Thomas said that they have pretty well settled on the three routes to begin, and with possible other future routes, such as with shopping service to Lewisburg and service to other areas of the County such as Durbin, Cass, and Hillsboro which could possibly be added later. Ken Gaiter from Snowshoe Mountain Resort added that they would be really interested in a Lewisburg route to include stops at the Greenbrier Valley Airport, because during ski season, many international skiers arrive at that airport and currently Snowshoe Resort spends a lot of money to provide transportation for those people to the resort. Gaitor pointed out that the money Snowshoe spends to provide that transportation, could be available to MTA as fares and become part of the local grant match if MTA took over that transportation to and from the airport.
Thomas said that he had seriously considered tweaking the commuter route to Interstate Hardwoods in Bartow with the route from Marlinton to Interstate running directly there via routes 39 and 28 with the return trip going across Route 66 and stopping at Cass and at the Linwood area near Snowshoe and then returning to Marlinton via US 219. However, most of the stakeholders at this meeting felt that could add too much time, namely a total return trip of 2 hours and 8 minutes, from Bartow to Marlinton if it went through Cass and Linwood. So, the consensus by the end of the meeting -and one that Tim Thomas seemed good with- was to initially operate the three original routes. Those are the commuter routes directly to and from Interstate Hardwoods, a commuter route directly to and from Snowshoe Resort, which will begin later in the year, and the Marlinton Loop which will provide service around the Town, including service to PMH. Thomas added that there is one thing guaranteed. From his past experiences starting new transit routes, additional needed tweaks to these routes will always be discovered once the service begins.
The stake holders present at this meeting included Ken Gaitor, the Operations Vice-President at Snowshoe Resort; Danny Arbogast, the director of the Day report Center; Mary Beth Barr, the CEO of PMH; Lauren Bennett. The Director of the County Parks and Recreation; Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton; County Commissioner Walt Helmick; and Roger Trusler of the Rotary Club.
Thomas said the total annual cost for those three routes would be a hundred and fourteen thousand dollars ($114,000.) He went on to clarify the next steps that will be taken in the process.
“We are ready” said Thomas. “I have to meet with the State this week. I spoke to the 5311 (Public Transit) Coordinator right before I left, and she’s getting with the Executive Director and will sit down and come up with the final of what we need to do. Basically, they have already approved it, it’s just them changing the dollar amount that they are going to give us. And we thank the County Commission for the $30,000 that they gave us. And then we just need to know who the true other players are.”
Just to clarify, the other players Thomas referred to are other possible employers along those commuter routes who might be interested in having their employees also ride these commuter lines.