WEIRTON Wednesday's meeting of the Weirton Transit Corp. board of trustees was the first for Brian Maley, the newest board member.
"I appreciate the opportunity to serve on the board," Maley said. "I'm hoping to spend some time with members and digest the information to get me up to speed so I can hopefully contribute more at the next meeting."
The WTC also added a new 18-passenger bus to its fleet on Dec. 18, thanks in part to a state grant.
The arrival of the new vehicle is well-timed since ridership in the final six months of 2013 increased by 2,270 passengers compared to 2012. Ridership in the first half of January has broken from that positive trend because of the cold snap of bitter temperatures.
"We lost 257 passengers just in those three days when it was below zero," Transit Manager Kevin Beynon reported. "We're showing a definite pattern in line with the weather. When it's decent we're flying, and when it's bad we're slow."
Two buses are currently not in use, and mechanics have been in short supply during the past two months because of illness and vacations. Once repairs are completed one of the buses will be up for bidding, and the proceeds from its sale will go back to the state. The WTC will be in the market for another new bus this summer.
In other business, members of the board are scheduled to meet with representatives from C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. Tuesday to discuss the possibility of obtaining Job Access and Reverse Commute Program funding. JARC provides federal funding to help people from outside city limits access transportation to work in the city. The WTC has kept the topic on its agenda since being initially approached about it in October, but attempts to schedule an informational meeting have failed repeatedly.
"We've tried to step out and say that we'd like to help these people if we can," Beynon said. "But in order for us to be able to do anything, it is imperative for us to get information from C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. quickly."
JARC funding will be dissolved into another federal program in June, so the issue is time sensitive.
Assistant Transit Manager Danielle Brown recently earned her commercial driver's license and will attend safety and security officer training on behalf of the WTC in late April. The state of West Virginia requires that at least one member of each transit company receives the training.
The West Virginia Public Transit Association will hold a legislative reception in Charleston on Feb. 5 to foster communication between elected officials and representatives of transit agencies throughout the state. Although the WTC did not send anyone in 2013, Beynon plans to attend this year.
"We do not have a dedicated source of funding from the state," Beynon explained. "So it's very important that we push for them to establish some type of dedicated funding source for us rather than extending it three months at a time."
Across the board there has been a 7.5 percent cut in transit funding in West Virginia in the past year.