We editors were recently questioned about if the Little Kanawha Bus service can "make a financial go of it" here in Gilmer County. All we can say is: "It's still running, but, maybe, at half speed or one-fourth of capacity." Truly, this public service really needs a boost.
To increase ridership, our suggestion is that the service's management make contact with the agencies and places that would most benefit from its services, notably the college, senior center, Historical Society, the downtown and Hays City merchants, among others. In that way, the bus line can create special trips to accommodate the specific clienteles. Or, with the senior center, maybe even arrange day mini-vacation trips to historic and scenic sites around the Mountain State. In fact, this senior editor would be happy to give a tour of the historic Southern West Virginia Coalfields to any area groups who'd want that type of day long excursion. Seeing the hometown of the Rocket Boys, the first Head Start School, the only World War I Colored War Memorial Building in the United States, and other landmarks of the coal mining history. Yes, we editors will help the LK Busline, if asked.
It's important, indeed, to keep this public transport service in Gilmer County. Just ask: "When was the last time Gilmer County had a bus or taxi service in order to offer an alternative and less expensive mode of transportation than having a friend or neighbor drive car-less people either in or out of county?"
Was it 30, 40 or 50 years ago? This senior editor can't remember, but we did have taxi and bus services in the past.
For some time now, the officials of the Little Kanawha Bus company have been concerned about the county's lack of usage of their local public transportation services. If the low usage continues, there's a good possibility that we Gilmer Countians might lose this vital service.
Really, and backtracking a little, many of you seniors can remember the days when once flourishing bus lines linked all areas of the state with the big cities and destinations even beyond. For example, Greyhound used to be able to take you any place in the United States. In fact, I'd occasionally use this busline to go to college from Indiana to St. Louis, if I didn't use B & O trains from Cincinnati to St. Louis and other points west instead. Moreover, these train and bus trips were always exciting for us college students, but that's another story altogether.
These transportation options, however, seemed to change in the early 1980s. This publisher sadly remembers when the public bus service withdrew from Welch (McDowell County), thereby leaving many rural and car-less residents without wheels to get to their relatives' homes, the downtown stores and shopping malls, big city medical centers, among other desired destinations. Down there, the folding of that busline's route to Welch financially hurt the most disadvantaged residents, those who couldn't afford to buy a vehicle.
Although the bus companies of old, except for the giants, such as Greyhound or Trailways, have found it monetarily impossible to maintain service to their users in smaller towns, the Little Kanawha Bus Company, to the contrary, maintains a viable service in its well established areas of Calhoun and Roane Counties by using smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles.
This nonprofit firm - headquartered in neighboring Calhoun County - which operates on government grants as well as user fees, has been in existence for over a decade and provides a vital service for the people in several counties, of which the latest is Gilmer County. Here, several seniors and car-less people have found the new bus service to be both convenient and helpful in linking them with where they need to go.
Also, by booking one's trip in advance, the Little Kanawha Bus Company can gather others together to make the same trip, thereby making the journey less costly and more efficient for the company and to keep it afloat, financially speaking.
In the main, the company's bus schedule seems realistic to us editors, in that it covers almost the entire county.
- Mondays: It makes the round trip along Route 47 and Route 5 West from Linn, Troy, Coxs Mills and Tanner.
- Wednesday: The round trip serves the residents of Route 5 East from Stouts Mills and Sand Fork, including Route 33 from Cedarville and Normantown.
- 1st Fridays: LK offers service to Clarksburg.
- 2nd and 4th Fridays: The LK bus goes to Weston.
- 3rd Fridays: A round trip goes to Flatwoods.
In addition, service to Glenville is also provided, as we editors have seen LK riders shopping in Foodland and other area stores.
To book a ride, or to get more schedule information, just call 1-866-354-5522 (toll free).
As a result of the current lack of ridership, we editors encourage you area readers to use this LK Bus service, whenever feasible. The Gilmer County Family Resource Network (FRN) officials have also advocated this bus service from the outset, as well as many other public officials and this newspaper.
The mailing address is Little Kanawha Bus, PO Box 387, Grantsville, WV 26147.
If enough people in the county use this new service, there will be no problem in keeping it active here. If not, owing to the Little Kanawha Bus line's grant user requirements, the service may have to be dropped, which, as previously stated, would be tragic for Gilmer County.
Because public transportation is a key to successful economic and industrial development, and those prospects are just around the corner for Gilmer County, especially when the Marcellus Shale boom kicks into high gear, it would be a great shame to lose this vital option for an alternative and low cost transportation service here.
David H. Corcoran, Sr., Publisher-Sr. Editor
MHHS Clinic-Glenville at WACO Cr.
We editors are happy that Minnie Hamilton Health System's (MHHS) Glenville Clinic will be at the WACO Center, 921 Mineral Road, after its Grand Opening on Mon., Aug. 4.
Historically, the MHHS-Glenville Office's doctors, medical professionals and staff know our Gilmer County people. Moreover, with the added space for the medical center's operations, it can grow in its services to us residents, as the need arises.
Consequently, best of luck for success to MHHS at the new WACO Center! DHC, Sr.