STEUBENVILLE — The resumption of service that the Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority has partnered with Weirton Transit Corp. connects will expand opportunities for residents on both sides of the Ohio River—and beyond.
“We are happy about it”, said Frank Bohach, Executive Vice President of the WTC. “Between the two operations you will have a system that connects the entire valley.”
Bohach spoke Monday morning in the conference room at the Steubenville and Jefferson County Public Library Division. It was the first of four scheduled public hearings on the compound. A second meeting was held Monday afternoon at the Schiappa office, while additional meetings are scheduled for Thursday at 10:00 am and 5:00 pm in the Weirton Room at the Millsop Community Center in Weirton.
Once the new service begins next Monday, transfer points will be set up between providers at Harmon Creek Park and Ride just off US Route 22 and the Wal-Mart Super Center on Three Springs Drive in Weirton. In addition, WTC buses will carry passengers to the RJ Cutri Multi-Modal Center at the corner of Fifth and Adams Streets in Steubenville.
The stops at Weirton will be part of changes to that operation’s Robinson Township route, which includes service to the Findlay Industrial Park, according to Tim Turner, transit manager for SVRTA.
“Much of the Robinson route has evolved into a working route,” Turner explained.
According to SVRTA operations manager Jerry Thomas, there will be six stops per day to serve Robinson at Harmon Creek and Weirton Wal-Mart, beginning at 3:50 a.m. with the stop at the Park and Ride. Weirton stops coming from Robinson begin at 5:25am and end at 6:40pm
WTC buses coming to Steubenville will be an extension of the existing Follansbee route, with four buses per day arriving at the Cutri center from 8:10 a.m. and four buses per day departing the center from 8:56 a.m., Phil explained Gilcrest, transit manager for WTC.
Fares are based on the airline offering the service. Service on SVRTA routes generally costs 50 cents, with Robinson Township Service costs fixed at $5. The fare for the WTC service is $2.
Once in Robinson, drivers can transfer to buses operated by Pittsburgh Regional Transit and other transit companies that serve this part of western Pennsylvania. These include the 28X Airport Flyer, which serves a loop between Robinson, Pittsburgh International Airport and the Oakland area of Pittsburgh.
Heather Dock, transit planner for SVRTA, said among those already using the service are local residents, Steubenville Franciscan University students and their parents who fly into the city or fly back to their hometowns, and others who fly into the city fly and find the cost of an Uber between the airport and Steubenville too expensive.
In addition to service throughout Steubenville, SVTRA operates routes to Wintersville and Mingo Junction, as well as a Park and Ride route along State Route 7 in Rayland, where passengers connect to Ohio Valley-Eastern Ohio Regional Transit Authority buses. which provides services to communities in and around Martins Ferry, Wheeling and St. Clairsville.
Cookie West, an SVRTA board member and employment and community navigator with the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said expanding bus service is important.
“I was a bus driver, so I know the value of that.” said West. “It’s a wonderful thing to see people, especially people with disabilities, being able to access the bus and get off to their communities.”
Demand for public transport in the region is growing, and authorities said ridership on their systems has increased. SVRTA, for example, said it served 147,000 drivers last year.
Officials with local transit providers said they were happy to be able to restore the connection. That connection was suspended in October 2021 and severed last March after months of disputes between boards over issues such as transfer points in Weirton.
Having a solid transportation system between communities across the region is vital, they said, especially given the expected growth in business and shopping opportunities.
“Transit will play a major role in this,” said boah. “That’s one of the reasons we’re so excited about this connection. We can all grow together. We can bring these communities together to make them work the way they should.”