by BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Bluefield Area Transit will expand its operational territory on Monday in order to provide regularly scheduled public transportation to Montcalm and the Lashmeet-Matoaka area, according to Patrick McKinney, general manager of the transit system.
“This is a first-time deal for the people in that part of Mercer County,” McKinney said. “I don’t know how long it has been since they’ve had public transit up there. Consolidated Bus Lines might have run a bus from Matoaka to Wyoming county years ago, but the county’s old Gate City Transit didn’t go up there.”
McKinney said that on Monday and Thursday, Montcalm area riders will be served with three runs a day going to Bluefield and Princeton with connections to all of the other BATS bus routes including U.S. Route 52 and Athens.
He said that on Tuesday and Friday, the Lashmeet-Matoaka area will have three runs with connections to Bluefield, Princeton, Route 52 and Athens.
“We’re going to use one of our extra guys on this route,” McKinney said. “Once this is operation, we’ll be serving the biggest part of Mercer County.”
McKinney said that the new routes are being funded through a New Freedom Grant that will expire on June 30, 2014. “If the routes prove to be successful, we will look into continuing service with local contributions and other grant options.”
In an unrelated matter, McKinney said that during the construction meeting for the new facility at Exit 1, “the construction manager told us that the facility should be done by mid to the third week of October,” McKinney said. “That was good news for us. We wouldn’t want to be moving in with snow coming down.”
— Contact Bill Archer at email@example.com