CHARLESTON, W. Va. – A new program announced by the state’s Department of Transportation on Friday will allow residents to travel I-79 on public transit for less than a tank of gas.

Fares for the I-RIDE 79 program start at just $3 and go up to $15, each direction – depending on where the passenger boards – and will run between Charleston and Morgantown starting July 1, making daily stops in Charleston, Clendenin, Flatwoods, Weston, Clarksburg, Fairmont and Morgantown.

“That’s the mission of the DOT, make travel efficient, affordable and safe for everyone and this is doing just that,” Carrie Bly, spokesperson for the DOT said. “Everyone can use this. You’re talking about college students that can come home for the weekend. Also, seniors or people needing to go doctor’s appointments. There are a lot of people that go to the VA hospital in Clarksburg. Now, they have that access that they didn’t have before.”

The service will be funded with federal money appropriated to develop and support intercity bus transportation and operated in cooperation with Barons Bus Lines of Cleveland, Ohio as part of a nationwide effort to connect rural areas and urban centers to create connections of greater regional, statewide, and national significance. The service will provide links with Greyhound in Charleston and Morgantown where passengers can travel onto Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.

As for the 56-seat buses themselves, John Goebel, Vice President of Baron Bus Lines said they will be top of the line.

“Maybe I’m a little bias, but I think they’re the nicest buses on the road,” he said. “They’re all going to be 2013 [models] or newer. They have Wi-Fi, they have power outlets, they have six flat screens on the bus. We’re not showing movies currently, it could be something we look into in the future. Every single vehicle which we operate on that service will be ADA accessible and every single seat will also have a seat belt.”

Though the program hasn’t made its first run, there are already talks of providing other services to people of the Mountain State.

“It hasn’t even started yet and they’re already thinking about could we accommodate travelers that are going to the WVU games,” Bly said. “They are thinking about that and that’s something we could see in the fall.”

“We would be looking into that for sure,” Goebel said. “As ridership and demands continue to expand we will definitely explore those opportunities as well.”

The program comes in part as a response to a demand for more transportation options, considering the fact getting around is increasingly more costly.

“People are looking for these kind options and the price of gas isn’t going down,” Bly said. “For older populations or younger populations, this is a new option for them.”

In celebration of the new service, rides will be free for the first week, July 1-7.

The inaugural trip will depart the Greyhound Terminal at 300 Reynolds Street in Charleston at 10:15 a.m. on July 1.

To view the bus schedule and reserve your seat, call 888-378-3823 or visit www.baronsbus.com.

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Comments

  • Kayla

    All the negativity here is just awful. I am a WVU student from the charleston area that does not have the money to blow $100 for one weekend to visit home. So the past three years, I have only been able to come home for breaks. This is giving students a chance to visit their family and friends more than 3 times in 8 months. This also will bring more people to Morgantown for sporting events and be cheaper for those who have to travel to the hospital frequently. I think it's an excellent idea and plan to use this at least once a month.

  • Fred

    Wondering why this is being done by a WV based bus company,

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Anything left in petty cash to finish Rt. 35?

  • TMW

    Excellent idea. Why all the naysayers posting. Needs to run more often. We have this all over Maryland and the East Coast with MegaBus and other companies. It will only work if it stops where there are connections to get around the towns affected. For example, it can't stop at the WalMart lot outside of town and strand the riders. Way to go whoever came up with this idea.

  • wv4evah

    This project sounds a little too boondoggle-ish to me. I hope MetroNews does an investigation to see if it's a waste of tax dollars.

  • David Kennedy

    What a laugher this article is...

    Not mentioned is the fact that a huge Riverboat Gambling Casino is scheduled for Fairmont.
    Now the gamblers can travel at government subsidised expense to this soon to be built watering hole.
    Leave it to Beaver to find a way to make-a the money more than one way.
    I love it...oh, I forgot...it's gaming. ha ha ha And this is being done to help-a the people travel. ha ha ha....ha ha ha

  • Ron- from Morgantown

    I actually like the idea , Morgantown to Charleston for as little as 3$ and not more than 15$ - that's awesome . I may take a trip for the scenery , to see Wild Wonderful West Virginia - the beauty of it all - without the hassle of driving . Some peace and quiet - with my ipad and cell phone , read a little , look at nature out the window , catch up on some sleep . Ya I think I might do it .

  • Independent View

    The subsidy comes from a program termed TEA II at the Federal Highway Administration and just where does the money actually come from?
    It comes from federal taxes on gasoline for every gallon purchased.
    This money is also wasted on multi-million dollar bike trails, street and highway scapes. This is just another in the long-list of federal boondoggles perpetrated on the American taxpayer. If your curious about how the federal gasoline taxes are used, this is just a few examples. Multiply these massive subsidies by the 50 states and it's easy to see why the federal and state gasoline taxes cannot keep pace with maintaining our roads and bridges!

  • Rodney Hytonen

    What about a connecting service running the length of rt 50?

    And yes, once a day is not useful.

    Minimum usability would be two round trips daily, one early, one late.

    • Debra

      This service will run from Charleston to Morgantown and back to Charleston on same day.

  • RHytonen

    GREAT!

  • ViennaGuy

    I don't have a problem with efficient, affordable transportation on I-79 or anywhere else, but it needs to be done without taxpayer subsidies. Subsidizing it doesn't make it "affordable;" it only forces people to pay for something they don't use. Another "entitlement" ...

    • Rodney Hytonen

      Privatizing ANYTHING doubles costs, at a minimum.

      And 'perish forbid,' that government should do anything for the poor and elderly.
      How does a person with that attitude sleep at night?

      • Silas Lynch

        How often do you suppose the poor or the elderly need to travel from Charleston to Morgantown..

        But if they would of had this cheap service while I was still attending high school here in the Kanawha Valley, I could've started getting drunk in Morgantown two years sooner than I did.

      • ViennaGuy

        - Privatizing ANYTHING doubles costs, at a minimum. -

        Proof?

        How does a person with the attitude that "I'm owed this, the government should give it to me" sleep at night?

      • sunnycal

        while were at it let the" government " give the poor ( a.k.a welfare recepts a.k.a I get a check because I have a bad back but I haul junk cars away if you have one, a.k.a don't give me a drug test because it violates my privacy rights ) cell phones. Oh wait the government ( U. S taxpayer - ME ! ) already does! I sleep very well at night after working daylight / dark , others might give it a try.

        • Jason412

          ViennaGuy,

          It's public transportation something that has worked successfully to drive economies in about every major city in America. Things like public transportation on certain routes should be a priority in this state.

          Lot of people in Clarksburg that could probably get a job in Fairmont with reliable transportation. And same goes for a lot of the cities on their list. It certainly gives the possibility that many who haven't been working will now will be able to with reliable transportation.

          When I lived in Ohio, the bus was packed daily with low income people from both Ohio and Weirton traveling to Pittsburgh to work at decent jobs they otherwise might of been unable to get to.

          We subsidize horse races to the tune of 84$ million a year. But we cant help people from all over the state get to work.

          • ViennaGuy

            I would also like to point out that Detroit has had two mass-transit systems for years ... one a conventional bus system, the other the "People Mover" light-rail system.

            Those systems didn't do much to drive that city's economy ... Detroit did go bankrupt.

          • ViennaGuy

            - It's public transportation something that has worked successfully to drive economies in about every major city in America. -

            Really? Public funding of mass transit is a relatively recent thing. Did you know that before and after World War II, the streetcar systems were privately owned? It's true! And they weren't necessarily confined to certain cities, either. Some streetcar systems covered multiple cities, including in West Virginia. There was one line which went from Fairmont clear to Weston - again, privately owned.

            Did you know that the subway system in New York City was originally a private system? It was! Later, the city built its own system and subsequently bought out the private companies to avoid competition.

            If public funding of mass transit is so critical to driving the American economy, how did the nation grow so much, both before and after World War II, without public funding for mass transit?

            With regard to "people getting to work," did you see the hours that the bus will run? Where is the evidence that people who live in Clarksburg would find jobs in Fairmont, anyway?

            Like I said, I have no issue with affordable transportation, but I'm tired of being told that I have to pay for it.

            - We subsidize horse races to the tune of 84$ million a year. But we cant help people from all over the state get to work. -

            I've said repeatedly on this site that the state should not be subsidizing the horse/dog tracks, not one thin dime.

          • Jason412

            Rick,

            I admit the schedule as is isn't great, but it can be changed once they see the service will be used.

          • Rick S.

            The bus is scheduled to leave Clarksburg at 12:45 p.m. and arrive in Fairmont at 12:58 p.m. The return bus is scheduled to leave Fairmont at 6:20 p.m. So in order for a Clarksburg person to work in Fairmont and use this service, that person would have to find a job in Fairmont that starts around 1:15 and ends at 6:00. Good luck with that.

            I think it is fairly safe to say that not one person will be able to use this bus service as scheduled in order to commute back and forth from work.

            In theory, this bus idea sounds great. But in practice, this has failure written all over it.

  • Robert

    One run a day restricts this service to those basically needing one way transportation. Unless you plan on staying overnight (or longer) at your destination you're not going to use this service. Don't get me wrong, I like this idea, but to put it forward as a way to get to doctors appointments or the like is a bit of a stretch.

  • David

    Here we ago again another million dollar program to give 10 people a ride everyday.

    I thought they were broke and couldn't maintain the roads?

    Crap like this WHY?

    Isn't there bus service already?

    If no ask yourself why.

    Anyone can use it?

    A slug line in each town would be cheaper.

    How long before they try to force you to ride it to save the climate?

    Of course it won't apply to everyone then, they'll still be flying around in G8's.