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Country Roads Transit may expand

BUCKHANNON — Almost five years ago, Country Roads Transit expanded through a partnership with the Upshur County Senior Center and it is now exploring expanding again.

There are preliminary discussions on how to drive veterans and the general public to medical appointments at the VA Hospital and United Hospital Center twice a week, according to director Laura Ward at Thursday’s Upshur County Commission meeting.

“We are hearing a lot from veterans that the vans which used to run to the VA, driven mostly by volunteers, are failing and they have no way to get there, “she said. “Country Roads Transit, at this point, doesn’t go out of the counties we serve, so we are investigating and getting some numbers.”

Ward said they would also open the Clarksburg run to the general public.

“We could take veterans to the VA and then go over to UHC and do that twice a week,” she said. “Of course, everything comes with a cost.”

If that plan becomes road ready, then CRT may be coming back to the Upshur County Commission for additional funding to try it for a year pilot. For now, CRT is requesting the commission’s continued support.

“We believe this program is impactful and appreciate your help in all of these 14 years we have been providing transit,” Ward said.

CRT was named by former county commissioner Donnie Tenney.

“Right now the people you are investing in are people who have no other way to get to the doctor, who have no other way to get to the grocery story, to get to socialization, to get to the senior center,” she said. “There’s lots of studies that prove that socialization, that early medical care, that proper access to a variety of foods is important. Transit is a vital part of all of those things, so that is the investment you are making.”

Ward said they had tried a service from Buckhannon to Elkins but had one rider in four months.

However, Upshur County statistics for 2018-2019 show CRT gave 6,970 rides,

CRT has demand response service in Upshur County (scheduled 24 hours in advance) and a route van from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Call 304-636-6472 to schedule a ride for demand response. Visit www.countryroadstransit.com for fees and a map of the Buckhannon loop.

Commission president Terry Cutright said the commission would consider the funding request during budget discussions in March.

Commissioner Sam Nolte said he appreciated the service CRT performs.

“It definitely helps a lot of people get to places that they just simply couldn’t get to without you,” he said.

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