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Boonsboro residents want bus service

January 14, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - A Boonsboro woman told the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday that she has collected 100 signatures in two days from residents who wants County Commuter service returned to the town, a goal shared by the mayor.

At one point during Tuesday's joint meeting of the Boonsboro Town Council and the commissioners, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said it might be more cost-effective for local residents to take a cab when they need transportation.

But Ethelyn Purcell of Boonsboro, who said she plans to continue her petition drive, said that is not a realistic alternative to using buses, which charge a much lower fare.

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"Do you know how much it costs for a cab from here to Robinwood? $20," she told Snook.

Another resident said she was charged $25 for a taxi ride to Hagerstown, she said.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles "Skip" Kauffman said he asks the county every year to resume service to the town, and plans to continue asking for it.

As the second largest municipality in the county, Boonsboro should be provided with mass transit, he said.

Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said the county stopped providing bus service to the area in about 1995.

County officials said it was unlikely the town would get public transportation again at a time when county government is being forced by the state, which helps fund the program, to cut routes.

The County Commuter cut service to Boonsboro, Hancock, Sharpsburg and Keedysvile because the routes were not used enough to justify having them, Kevin Cerrone, the county's director of public transportation, has said.

But Cerrone, who was not at the meeting, said later when reached by phone that Boonsboro and other parts of the county could get some service under a recommendation presented to the commissioners by a consultant in September 2003.

The consultant suggested dividing the outlying parts of the county into four zones. Under the recommendation, service would be provided to the areas, not on a daily basis, but perhaps once or twice a week.

None of the recommendations have been adopted by the commissioners, and they would require additional funding, he said.

The zoning idea was not mentioned at the meeting.

Snook and Commissioner John Munson said they understand that some people rely on public transportation.

But, Munson said there are taxpayers who resent seeing County Commuter buses with few, if any, riders on them.

Kauffman said he, too, has seen the near-empty buses, but doesn't understand why that prevents the county from providing service to Boonsboro.

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