By MIKE RUBEN ∙ firstname.lastname@example.org
Mass transit is available in rural West Virginia communities such as Chloe, Reedy and Sandyville, thanks to the Little Kanawha Transit Authority.
Based in a new $2.2 million operations facility in Mount Zion, the authority is designed to meet the transportation needs of Calhoun, Roane and Jackson counties. Daily service is provided to the towns of Grantsville, Spencer, Ripley and Ravenswood with weekly runs in the smaller communities of the region. Buses also make regular trips to Parkersburg and Charleston.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker was among the speakers for the grand opening this spring. He said the new facility, financed with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, is much larger than the old location in Arnoldsburg. It provides additional room for training and maintenance of the fleet of 14 buses.
"There just wasn't enough room for all of that," Walker said. "Now we have the garage, the maintenance facility, the operation and administrative facility all in one."
Walker noted the transit authority is a key mode of transportation for residents.
"Those folks rely heavily on public transportation to get them to some essential services like doctors' offices, shopping, grocery shopping, those kinds of things," he said. "It's real important."
Manager Darlene Crane said the authority transports an average of 150 passengers daily and 40,000 annually. She has been with the authority since it opened in 2002. Starting as a driver, she was a dispatcher before accepting the administrative position.
Crane said the new facility is a source of pride for Calhoun County.
"It's the first time we've had a new building in the county for a long time," she said.