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Bus system sets record
Friday, July 27, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The public bus system in Henry County and Martinsville has set records in terms of the number of rides it recently has given.
Statistics released Thursday show that in the past 30 days, the Piedmont Area Regional Transit (PART) buses provided a total of 2,003 rides. That is the first time the number of rides exceeded 2,000 in a month.
The 2,003 rides were an increase of 528 rides over the comparable period last year, figures show. The previous record, set in May, was 1,967 rides.
PART also set a record with a daily average of 95.4 rides provided in the past 30 days, figures indicate.
During that period, people boarded PART buses for 1,169 rides in the city and 834 rides in the county, statistics show.
In the county, Walmart on Commonwealth Boulevard was the most popular bus stop with 211 rides beginning there, followed by the nearby Lowes stop with 194 rides starting there, figures show.
Liberty Fair Mall was the most popular stop in Martinsville with 171 rides beginning there, figures reveal.
Henry County Deputy Administrator Tim Hall said he thinks those are the most popular stops because they are the area’s main retail destinations.
He said he thinks that contributing to the popularity of the Walmart and Lowes stops is that those locations are where people switch from the bus that runs through the county to the bus that runs through the city.
PART is a fixed-route bus system that runs 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is managed by RADAR of Roanoke, a nonprofit organization that has operated transportation services for more than 30 years.
Route schedules are available at the Henry County Administration Building and Martinsville Municipal Building and online at www.henrycountyva.gov, www.martinsville-va.gov and www.radartransit.org.
Since PART was established in 2009, the number of rides given has grown “by a quantum leap,” said Hall.
Among local commuters, apparently “it’s been established ... that it’s a cheap alternative” to traveling by car or paying for a taxi ride, he said.
PART receives both state and local funding. For the fiscal year that began July 1, total local funding is $64,440. The county and city each are paying half that amount, or $32,220.
Hall said that while the county evaluates its expenditures annually, the Henry County Board of Supervisors has shown it is committed to continuing the bus system well into the future.
Martinsville Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.