2017-07-19 / Front Page

Berkeley Spring bus service begins

by Trish Rudder

Joel Tuttle, TOD bus driver on Monday’s test run. photo by Janice Zakrzewski Joel Tuttle, TOD bus driver on Monday’s test run. photo by Janice Zakrzewski Berkeley Springs now has a local bus service that began on Monday, July 17.

Operating through Senior Life Services of Morgan County on Sandmine Road, Transportation on Demand (TOD), operates Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday.

The cost is $1 one way and the rider must have exact cash or tokens. Tokens can be purchased at the senior center, said Joel Tuttle, Senior Life Services executive director, who is also president of the Morgan County Commission.

The service area where riders can be picked up is as far north as Sandmine Road, as far south as Shirley Drive, as far east as Fairview Drive and as far west as Wilkes Street, Tuttle said.

How it works

To schedule a pick-up, the rider will contact the TOD operator at Senior Life Services at 304-702-9090.

TOD bus riders (from front to back) Chris Chapman and Audrey Morris; Scott Merki and Laura Smith; Kathryn Bradley and Lori Hansroth and Peter Vankleeck. photo by Trish Rudder TOD bus riders (from front to back) Chris Chapman and Audrey Morris; Scott Merki and Laura Smith; Kathryn Bradley and Lori Hansroth and Peter Vankleeck. photo by Trish Rudder If the rider has a set appointment time, TOD must be contacted an hour in advance for a pick-up.

If a rider needs a return trip, the rider may arrange it with the driver when he/she is dropped off, or the rider can contact the operator when he/she is ready to be picked up.

Tuttle said those who have been using senior services buses for scheduled doctor appointments, the rider should continue to call the senior center instead of TOD.

“For a guaranteed ride, call the senior center,” said committee member Chris Chapman.

Test riders

Transportation Enhancement Committee members or supporters of the service took the initial bus ride on Monday with Tuttle driving and collecting the round-trip fee from each.

“This new public transportation bus is for anybody to ride,” said committee member and Morgan County Starting Points director Audrey Morris.

The bus made a pick up at Town Hall on Wilkes Street for Bath Mayor Scott Merki, who supports the bus service, and Bath Councilman Chapman. The next scheduled stop was for committee member Berkeley Springs- Morgan County Chamber of Commerce executive director Lori Hansroth and Travel Berkeley Springs administrative assistant Laura Smith at the Fairfax Street office.

The bus picked up committee members Kathryn Bradley, Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Manager of Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties and DHHR Supervisor Peter Vankleeck at the DHHR office. A stop for coffee and donuts

The bus, which holds 12 passengers, met up with a Senior Life Services van at Sheetz for coffee and donuts. The van held committee members Janie Swaim; Sean Forney, of the Bath Development Authority (BDA), Eastern Regional Planning & Development Council (Region 9) executive director Bill Clark; Tammy Kees, finance manager of Morgan County’s Senior Life Services; and supporter Janice Zakrzewski, and friend of Kees, who said, “I will use this service.”

This service can be used by those without a vehicle or have a limited use of a vehicle, and for grocery or other shopping.

“My grandson will use the bus to get a ride to the swimming pool,” said Zakrzewski.

Working together pays off

The committee has been working on getting a bus service in the area since October 2015.

“We are very pleased with getting this off the ground,” Chapman said.

Region 9 conducted an online transit survey last February to learn if people would use the transport bus, and it had more than 300 responses, Clark said earlier.

“The survey proved that people need this,” Tuttle said Monday.

The bus service is funded by a three-year grant through the state’s Department of Transportation, Division of Public Transit. Local organizations also contributed to meet the 20 percent funding match, Tuttle said.

“This was a community effort…,” Vankleeck said.

“Working together,” Chapman added.

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This is a wonderful service

This is a wonderful service for those in the area serviced. A very limited service area! That said... I'm also aware that Commissioner Tuttle had previously requested, and been denied funding from Morgan County. As a resident of Great Cacpapon, it's my opinion that too many projects are funded by the "entire county" which only benefit Berkeley Springs residents. This is another service, in which county funds were requested for a service that will only serve Berkeley Springs. At present, this is a privately funded service. As such, how they spend their money, or the people they chose to service is of no concern of mine. I've often reminded several county officials that Morgan County is comprised of a few towns other then Berkeley Springs. A fact, that I think slips their mind when planning, and funding projects... So, as a property owner, and tax payer of "Morgan County", I do not wish to see future county funds contributed to any service that serves a select area of the county, and not the entire county. I applaud Commissioner Ford, for denying funding for this project until it can serve all tax payers of Morgan County...