CHARLESTON W.Va. — Around 70 or more showing up for a public hearing at Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority over concern of the elimination of nearly a dozen bus routes.

KRT officials met with the public Friday to discuss the proposed eliminations of approximately 11 routes throughout the greater Kanawha Valley.

It’s part of a comprehensive analysis KRT is in the process of composing that looks at which routes are performing best along with which ones are underperforming, as well transit changes they have in store to improve overall efficiency.

KRT Executive Director Sean Hill laid out some more of the details behind the new plan.

“What we’re talking about are looking at again, the routes that are working and improve the service there, instead of coming every hour they come every half an hour, and the routes that are underperforming, looking at are there alternatives such as on-demand KRTplus model where individuals could be picked up at their house, at their door, on their schedule, not on our schedule but on their schedule and taken to the bus routes which help us maximize our efficiencies,” Hill said.

One proposed major change would be to shift the bus services to operating from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday rather than having the routes operate on various times and days as the system is currently.

High-demand routes would operate every 30 minutes until 7 p.m. and every 60 minutes after that on weekdays. On weekends, all services will be every 60 minutes all day.

The 11 proposed routes for discontinuation include:

. Tyler Mountain

. Elkview

. Campbells Creek

. Sissonville

. Northgate off Greenbrier Street

. Wertz Avenue

. Beech Avenue

. South Hills

. South Park

. Fort Hill

. and Clendenin

Due to lower ridership on these routes, KRT proposes that they be replaced by the KRTplus service that is currently in the works, which will connect riders with the closest transit line for the same cost as a transit trip through a KRT vehicle. It would also operate within the same hours as the fixed route bus.

For a slightly higher cost than a transit trip, passengers can be picked up and dropped off anywhere within the same zone.

However, residents throughout the Kanawha Valley who rely on the bus routes in those areas expressed their concerns regarding the changes.

Willie Meadows, a South Park Road resident in the Kanawha City area said he lives near public housing and there are a lot of elderly and disabled people who live there and who rely on the bus for their daily livelihoods.

He said the route elimination would greatly affect those people as well as himself as he relies a lot on the bus too.

“I live a little further up the road from the housing complex, I live about a 2 mile walk up the road, but down the road in the housing complex, people catch it everyday there, I catch it five-plus days to go to work,” Meadows told MetroNews.

Meadows said he works at a shop in Marmet and is also a small business owner at Capital Flea Market, saying he relies on both transit lines that are now subject of being eliminated to get to both jobs.

He said he will be at a total loss if he can’t get to work.

“Three days a week a shop I’ve ran for 9 plus years that they’re looking at eliminating for me, how am I supposed to get to my personal small business?” said Meadows. “I’ve depended on that bus every weekend to get there for 9 years, people love me up there, I’m a staple at that flea market, if my bus route is eliminated there, what am I to do?”

Meadows said not everyone has access to cell phone or internet services to be able to contact KRT to get a ride on their proposed micro-transit service everyday. He said this will put a lot of people in jeopardy.

“Not just me but the elderly, the disabled, what are they going to do in this position?” he said. “I fear for the public, I fear for commerce, business, I fear for the people, I fear for everything with this,” he said.

Meadows said people need a fixed set bus schedule like what they have always relied on without needing to constantly contact KRT.

Cross Lanes-Tyler Mountain resident Maria Kylie said many in that area will have to resort to walking a few miles to catch another bus if the changes are put in place.

She said she was at Friday’s hearing to be a voice for everyone who relies on those bus routes.

“Not everyone can afford cars and I don’t think society understands that because they expect us to meet them where they are, and they don’t always consider us lower-income people,” she said.

Kylie said the buses potentially not running in her area will greatly affect her and her daily living situation as well.

“I depend on those buses everyday to get where I need to go and I don’t always have people to drive me or I don’t have a car myself, I can’t even afford a car because I’m on SSI,” Kylie said.

Hill said in time however, KRT officials hope people will be able to gain an acceptance of the new process of getting picked up at their homes and taken to a bus route if the proposed changes are approved.

But he said it was enlightening to hear people’s concerns Friday.

“You know I think this is the best part of the process is hearing from our passengers and individuals who rely on our service every single day to get in their comments, we expected this, and in a way there’s a lot to learn, bringing a change as far as a new concept in general like this on-demand service,” he said.

He said they are in the second phase of the survey they launched earlier in the year with this part they released just Thursday getting more specific with how the proposed changes will affect passengers.

Hill said they will run the survey through the month of June to gather as much feedback as they can.

He said that feedback will be shared with the board at KRT who will then ultimately make the decision on whether to go with the changes or not.

Hill said he could tell at Friday’s meeting that people are having a hard time grasping exactly what this new system means and KRT is now tasked with communicating the details behind it the best they can moving forward.

“People hear ride-share they think Uber, Lyft, they think Uber-Lyft prices, we are not a for-profit entity we do not presume to make money, we’re offering a public service, so we will continue to communicate to folks is the same exact cost to ride a bus you can be picked up and taken to the bus from your home if you’re in one of these zones,” said Hill.

KRT will hold a board meeting on June 27 where they plan to hear more public comment about the proposed changes.

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