Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Commuter Bus Service a Good Start in Quest To Find Additional Public Transportation Options
From The Governor’s Desk: A weekly column by Gov. Joe Manchin

Last week, I joined county commissioners and transportation officials from Cabell and Kanawha counties to announce that we are working to provide a low-cost commuter bus service that will connect our state’s two largest cities: Huntington and Charleston. This weekday bus service would be operated jointly by the Tri-State Transit Authority and the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority, and would provide a reliable and efficient link that would truly help to bring the Metro Valley together.

This service will help provide transportation to citizens throughout the Metro Valley and will help families address the budget-busting fuel prices by saving on fuel costs and it will also provide more access to citizen transportation needs. West Virginia is one of the more rural states in the nation and we don’t have the network of public transportation systems found in larger metropolitan areas.

That means that high gas prices take a heavier toll on our working families because they simply don’t have any other options but to drive to work or to the grocery store. I’ve said many times that West Virginians have to drive to survive – we cannot afford to keep paying these gas prices without some relief.

While just recently we’ve started to see a slight decrease in the price of fuel after months of increases, people across this state are looking for alternative transportation and continue to search for ways to save fuel. That is why I was pleased to announce the pilot project that will expand transportation services to citizens residing in the cities of Charleston and Huntington and suburban residents in Putnam County.

We were fortunately able to identify a federal grant that, if approved, will help to pay a good portion of the startup cost of providing this service. I have committed state funds to make up the rest, which will enable us to keep roundtrip prices well below $10. With gas prices at more than $3.50 per gallon, that’s substantial savings for our commuters.

If this pilot project is successful, I hope we will be able to implement it on logical routes connecting our citizens in other cities across the state. We know that the individual public transportation services in Charleston and Huntington have been effective for many years, and I thank the transportation authorities and our county commissions for their support of this project.

This is an easily implemented option to help provide some relief to our commuters, but I recognize that we need to look ahead at long-term transportation options that connect our communities. We’ll evaluate the demand for this service and see what, if any, additional buses or routes may be needed.

If this service is effective, it could also help to relieve some congestion on I-64, as well. While this is just a start, I think we all understand that efficient transportation is a key to growing our economy and, working together, we are finding new solutions to make that possible.


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