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SVRTA’s plans for village outlined

May 21, 2010
By PAUL GIANNAMORE, Business editor

STEUBENVILLE - Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority's proposed Wintersville demonstration route will include a fixed route down Main Street and out state Route 43 to Two Ridge Road, but riders will be able to schedule stops at specific points off the main route.

That's the plan so far, according to Frank Bovina, SVRTA manager, who told the authority's board of trustees Thursday that the flexible routing will allow riders to call the transit authority and schedule pickups and returns to specific points not along the main route.

"It's not door-to-door, but it will be curb-to-curb service," Bovina said.

While work continues to develop the plan with consultants from Wilbur Smith & Associates, the Wintersville routing would allow riders who aren't along the run from the Fort Steuben Mall area to the area of King's Restaurant on state Route 43 to call SVRTA. A series of pre-selected stops that are not on the main route would be used, allowing riders off the main route to get on the bus at one of the stops that aren't on the regular route.

"We're going to look at roads we can serve, for instance, off old Route 22, Fernwood and parts of Two Ridge Road that are in the village," he said. SVRTA offers demand-response runs for paratransit riders in Steubenville and Mingo Junction that allow riders to schedule a bus to come to their residence if it is within a specific distance from the main line routing. The deviation stops proposed for Wintersville are different, in that non-handicapped riders will make their appointment with the bus and then have to make their way to one of the non-scheduled bus stops.

"This way, people can schedule a ride," Bovina said. "We'll set a maximum number of inbound and outbound deviations and the bus can bypass them if there is no need to stop, thus it minimizes the disruption to passengers."

Bovina said another consideration as the demonstration run progresses during the next few years will be a possible express bus serving only main business districts and fed by other routes and services.

Wintersville's service, expected to start by late August, will run for a three-year demonstration period under money obtained through a federal grant of $600,000. After 2012, Wintersville residents will be asked to fund the service through a levy, as is paid by Steubenville and Mingo Junction, if they want to continue the buses.

Bovina said work continues on the potential development of runs by Steel Valley to the Robinson Town Center area, but the idea will be to connect to other local bus services there to meet the needs of commuters. He said SVRTA is looking into several potential alternatives to pay for the runs, including a variety of different federal programs.

In other items from Thursday's meeting at the Robert J. Cutri Multi-Modal Center at Fifth and Adams streets, the SVRTA trustees:

Received a ridership update from Bovina. Steel Valley is up by 13 percent on revenue and about 8 percent on ridership over levels from last year through April. Bovina said the difference between the two levels is because of the number of rider passes sold, including a push to sell them during the past few years at Eastern Gateway Community College.

Bovina said ridership is close to 2008 levels, which were the best for the transit authority, thanks to near-$4 a gallon gas at midyear. Bovina noted the good 2010 ridership is coming despite lower gasoline prices and SVRTA no longer running Sunday or evening service or shuttle runs to the steel mill.

Were told by Bovina that once approval to proceed comes from the city, work will begin on replacing the transit center's Richard Munk maintenance center building, being paid with a federal stimulus grant.

Were asked by Bovina to consider potential projects to prepare to allow the authority to apply for capital grants that may become available later in the year to be spent next year.

(Giannamore can be contacted at pgiannamore@heraldstaronline.com.)

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