Monday, 27 May 2019

Morgantown plans to offer bus service | News – Bowling Green Daily News

By March, Morgantown plans to have a free bus service to help people get around town a few days a week.

Mayor Billy Phelps said the idea for the service is to provide transportation to seniors who may not always be able to rely on other people to take them where they need to go.

“A lot of these elderly people depend on others to get around,” he said.

Phelps said he anticipates an interest in the program because the aging population of Morgantown has resulted in a steady increase of seniors who have trouble arranging transportation.

“Morgantown is obviously an aging community, and we have a lot of people who don’t have a ride to the simple stuff like grocery stores and doctor’s offices,” he said.

Phelps said he’s been working to establish a bus service in Morgantown for roughly three years, though the plan couldn’t fully come together until he was able to secure the donation of a van that seats at least 12 people from RTEC, an organization based in Mount Vernon.

RTEC’s website describes the group as “a nonprofit corporation organized in 1990 exclusively for the purpose of planning, coordinating and operating public transportation services.”

RTEC representative did not return messages seeking comment.

Phelps said he planned to bring the van back to Morgantown either on Friday or, failing that, shortly after New Year’s Day.

Phelps said he expects the bus to run two days a week for five hours each day, though the hours and days could later be expanded or reduced, based on need.

The bus would run on a schedule and stop at the Morgantown Housing Authority properties, where many of the seniors this program is designed for live, though the bus would also respond to calls for pickup, Phelps said.

“We want to have a timeframe where we’ll be at Housing Authority properties but in the meantime, people can call and we’ll try to pick them up,” he said.

Several details about the service still need to be worked out, like determining a schedule, hiring a driver and choosing a name for the bus.

“We haven’t put it together yet because we didn’t know if we were going to get a bus,” he said.

The cost to run the program is also not yet known, but Phelps said he expects the city should to be capable of handling the associated expenses, which would mainly comprise a salary and insurance for one part-time employee, gasoline costs and maintenance costs.

“We know it’s going to cost us to run this program, but we’re looking at quality of life here,” he said.

Though some decisions still need to be made, Phelps said he’s hopeful that the program can start within 60 days.

Phelps announced his expectations for the bus service at a city council meeting Dec. 13.

City council member Sharon Johnson said she likes the idea.

“I just think it would be a really good thing for anybody who needs assistance,” she said,