MADISON – Passenger numbers continue to increase for Tri River Transit bus company’s services and routes in Boone County, according to a report given to the Boone County Commission last week.
Paula Smith, executive director of Tri River Transit, told commissioner that since the service began in Boone County in July 2001 the number of passengers has nearly doubled.
“We started out with about 1,700 passengers and we have added about 1,500 passengers to that total,” Smith said at the Tuesday, March 5, regular session meeting of the commission.
The bus company has added Whitesville, Wharton and Clothier routes this past year in Boone County, Smith said.
“The Whitesville route is struggling a little bit, but we have a consultant looking at it to see how we can better that service,” she said.
Smith said the company’s fund request from the commission for the next year would remain the same.
“We are asking that the ongoing funding of $40,000 annually remain the same with no increase,” she said.
Tri River Transit Authority began service in Lincoln County in January 2000.
They added service to Logan County in September 2001, and service to Mingo County in February 2009.
The company launched non-emergency medical transportation for residents in Lincoln, Logan and Boone counties in January 2003, however those services could be impacted by a bill at the state Legislature, Smith said.
“We are battling a few bills in the state Legislature,” Smith explained to commissioners. “One is Senate Bill 188, which is the vendor transportation program for Medicaid recipents.”
Smith said the bill has the potential to hurt the bus company’s ability to pick patients up at their homes and transport them to doctors, clinics or hospitals.
“We do a non-emergency transportation program in which we take patients to their medical appointments and bill Medicaid,” she explained. “If they bring in a broker, as proposed by the bill, then the broker would decide who does that transportation.”
Smith said by encompassing Lincoln, Logan, Boone and Mingo counties, Tri River Transit has been able to provide service to four Southern West Virginia Community College campuses, four Regional Day Report centers, all four county DHHR offices and courthouses, multiple schools, shopping venues, regional hospitals and medical facilities.
“We have never received a complaint about Tri River Transit and its services,” said Boone County Commissioner Mickey Brown. “I know a lot of people who rely on it to get to work. It’s a great service to our communities.”