The biggest news coming out of the August 12 meeting about the Mountain Transit Authority’s start-up in Pocahontas County is that they seem to be settling in on three routes with service on two of those to possibly begin in September.
MTA CEO Tim Thomas said that MTA commuter service to Interstate Hardwoods and a local Marlinton Loop, which would include service to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH), could begin as soon as September 3, while the third route, a commuter route to Snowshoe Resort, could possibly begin in late November or early December to correspond with the opening of the ski season.
Thomas said that they have pretty well settled on the three routes for now, and with the possibility of other routes, such as with shopping service to Lewisburg and service to other areas of the county, such as Durbin, Cass, added later.
Ken Gaiter from Snowshoe Mountain Resort said that the resort would be interested in a Lewisburg route to include stops at the Greenbrier Valley Airport, because during ski season, many international skiers arrive at that airport and currently Snowshoe Resort spends a lot of money to provide transportation for those people to the resort.
Gaitor pointed out that the money Snowshoe spends to provide that transportation could be available to MTA as fares, and become part of the local grant match if MTA took over transportation to and from the airport.
Thomas said that he had seriously considered tweaking the commuter route to Interstate Hardwoods in Bartow with the route from Marlinton to Interstate running directly there via routes 39 and 28 with the return trip going across Route 66 and stopping at Cass and in the Linwood area near Snowshoe and then returning to Marlinton via US 219. However, most of the stakeholders at this meeting felt that would add too much time, namely a total return trip of two hours and eight minutes, from Bartow to Marlinton, if it went through Cass and Linwood. So, the consensus by the end of the meeting – and one that Thomas seemed good with – was to initially operate the three original routes.
Thomas added that one thing is guaranteed – based on his experience, the routes and schedules will need to be tweaked once the service begins.