Earlier this year, Mountain Line voted to center its operations out of its Westover hub and close the Garrett Street depot in Downtown Morgantown, but that comes with some challenges.
At its March meeting, the Transit Authority Board discussed and accepted proposed changes to routes, which will now be given to the public for review and comment before being finalized.
“The challenge for us was to keep service for everyone that had service already, not to make anyone’s trip be longer and to try and fulfill some of the promises we made during the levy process,” said Mountain Line General Manager David Bruffy.
That could not be done by just adding up to an extra seven or 10 minutes to routes that run through the downtown depot.
“Then we were gonna mess up the cycle of all the routes,” Bruffy explained. “They wouldn’t meet at the correct times. They wouldn’t be at the top and bottom of the hour and it would actually take longer. It would be a longer trip.”
Six routes that already run through Westover won’t change, but Mountain Line has altered the remaining routes based on rider data it collects all day.
The routes that WILL change are:
Green Line, Orange Line, Gold Line, Red Line, Tyrone, Purple Line, Cassville, Blue Line, Crown, Mr. Heights, Grafton Road and Pink Line.
“We added circulators that will run through neighborhoods that will run in the Northern and Eastern parts of the county and the greater Morgantown area,” Bruffy said explaining the changes.
The Mountain Line Transit Authority Board also has to adjust it’s budget for unexpected costs to prepare the Westover hub on Fairmont Road.
“We’ll need to develop some covered walkways and places for people to wait in out of the weather,” Bruffy said. “We’re gonna have some expenses, at least $200,000 to pave the paring lot and then additional expenses beyond that when we start to put in shelters and walkways.”
Covered shelters for downtown passengers were also discussed.
“That is a concern,” Bruffy continued. “We have developed a plan for a number of bus stop shelters that we would like ot see installed downtown. That’s really gonna require the assistance of the City of Morgantown and some property owners, perhaps the Parking Authority as well.”
All these changes will be distributed to riders on their routes and online by the end of the month.
“We want to make sure we don’t leave anybody behind, but we also want to make sure that everybody understands how the system works because change is always difficult,” Bruffy said.
The Board will also consider a free pass for riders for the first few months after the changes to learn how the system operators.
Bruffy said there’s also talk of making the new circulator routes free transfers.
“It’s gonna be bad enough if you get on the wrong bus and go somewhere we certainly don’t want it to cost you more money,” he continued.
The Garrett Street Depot closure comes after the City of Morgantown asked Mountain Line to relocated last Fall to pursue funding to enhance the Riverfront and Hazel Ruby McQuain Park.
Mountain Line plans to hold a series of public meetings for riders to ask questions and comment. That schedule will be posted towards the end of this month at busride.org along with the proposed route changes.
Riders are asked and encouraged to voice any and all concerns, which will be looked at before all these changes are finalized and implemented.
Mountain Line said the goal is to make those changes by August of 2018.