Laura Ward, director of Country Roads Transit, speaks with commissioners Thursday morning.

Country Roads Transit gives residents nearly 7K rides in 2018-2019

BUCKHANNON – Country Road Transit provided 6,970 rides in Upshur County during the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Laura Ward with Country Roads Transit attended the Thursday, Feb. 13 Upshur County Commission meeting to present the Country Roads Transit report for fiscal year 2018-2019, which began July 1, 2018 and wrapped up June 30, 2019.

“We are getting close to the end of the fifth year since we expanded a little, thanks to the partnership with the Upshur County Senior Center,” Ward said. “They had a Title III which is a The Older Americans Act Program, and they used that funding for transportation.”

She said the senior center did not have enough funding to continue this program.

“We partnered with them and because of our funding, we were able to get federal matching funds, so they put the same amount they were putting into that program,” Ward said. “We receive matching funds and in order to honor the requirements of their funding, which is that it’s [on a] donation basis, we structured it so that seniors ride the route van for free.”

She said providing transportation around the community has a huge impact.

“I would love to say that a huge percentage of our riders are riding because it’s the green choice and we hope to get there one day,” Ward said. “But right now, the people that you’re investing in are people who have no other way to get to the doctor, who have no other way to get to the grocery store, who have no other way to get to socialization or to get to the senior center.”

She said they have tried a couple projects over the last few years, including having a link between Upshur and Randolph County, but there was only one rider in four months.

“That didn’t exactly work out,” Ward said. “That doesn’t mean it won’t in the future and it doesn’t mean we won’t try it again if the need comes up.”

She said one project they are working on for the future is providing veterans with rides to the VA.

“Country Roads, at this point, doesn’t go out of the counties that we serve, so we are investigating and getting some numbers together to see if we could do that two days a week, get started in Randolph, pick up folks in Upshur, possibly even Lewis and go to the VA,” Ward said.

She said this process would come at a cost, and the commission should anticipate them coming back to discuss that soon.

“Everything comes with the cost, so there will be increased costs, so we’re trying to get the logistics of that down so that we can get a budget,” Ward said. “If that is successful and you think we can pull that off, we might be coming back to you soon and asking for additional investment in that. We believe it’s a need at least for a year as a pilot.”

Country Roads Transit provides a map of their routes and schedules at https://countryroadstransit.com.

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