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Transit system proposal sparks lively discussion

July 15, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- A vocal crowd of about 20 people turned out at a public meeting Wednesday night to offer input on proposals to increase efficiency in Washington County's public transit system.

LSC Transportation Consultants Inc. is proposing recommendations for the County Commuter system that would overhaul the existing routes to reduce duplication, cut down on transfers and decrease the time between buses during peak hours, among other considerations.

The plans also look at introducing bus service to Boonsboro, Hancock, Sharpsburg and Fort Ritchie in Cascade.

Some of the residents who spoke during Wednesday's public meeting at the Commission on Aging offices on West Franklin Street were critical of existing problems with the bus service.

L.L. Smith of Hagerstown said he was expecting to use a County Commuter bus leaving the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Garland Groh Boulevard Saturday night. The bus was scheduled to arrive at Wal-Mart at 7:15 p.m., but it did not get there until 9:15 p.m.

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Smith said buses are cheaper than other forms of public transportation "if they're running."

Michael Felschow, who was running the meeting for LSC Transportation Consultants, said work is under way to ensure there is only about a 30-minute to 45-minute waiting time between buses serving stops.

Joan Wilson criticized the bus system over the way it offers her a ride to Kmart off Massey Boulevard.

When she leaves from Williamsport, Wilson said she has to take a bus into Hagerstown, then catch a bus headed toward Valley Mall that drops her off at Kmart.

Felschow said the alternatives being considered for the County Commuter would merge routes, which would allow Wilson to be dropped off at Kmart while her bus is heading to Hagerstown.

Bernard Randolph of Hagerstown complained about a lack of sidewalks in town and how the situation amounts to "risking your life" to access public roads.

Felschow said Randolph brought up a good point, although those issues would have to be considered after the bus alternatives.

Felschow said he worries about bus riders being forced to stand in a "ditch" along a highway waiting for a bus as cars whiz along at 65 mph.

The meeting became heated at times, with residents getting upset with each other. Felschow told the group to calm down and said yelling was not a productive way to address issues.

Another public meeting will be Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Boonsboro Library branch.

LSC staff will present options and the public's feedback to a technical group that will further study the issue.




If you go...



What: Public meeting on Washington County's public transit system

When: Today, 6 p.m.

Where: Boonsboro Library branch, 401 Potomac St., Boonsboro

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