Plans to provide more public transportation in Stokes County are gaining steam with a newly formed committee working to get a circular loop operating in King within the next six months.
“On June 6 we will be going to the King City Council to present an initial presentation of what we are talking about for public transportation as it relates to King,” said YVEDDI Public Transportation Director Jeff Cockerham. “We need to start with King because it will be the highest population area.”
Cockerham said YVEDDIE would operate the route, providing vehicles and staff, but noted that local governing boards, if they helped provide matching funds, would be able to approve routes before before the new transportation system started operating.
A preliminary proposed circular route for King would run from the Mountain View Plaza shopping center on Hwy. 66 to the Stokes Family YMCA, along Moore Road to Jefferson Church Road, past the shopping district near U.S. 52, up Ingram Dr. to the King Outreach Ministries, then through town to the King Public Library, King Senior Center and Recreation Acres, then downtown and up Main Street to return to the Mountain View Plaza.
“This is just a tentative plan,” said Cockerham. “It would about $50,000 a year to operate and would have to be funded through a 50-50 split between a DOT grant and local matched funds.”
Cockerham said the initial plan would have a bus run the route 10 times per day on weekdays. He said the service would likely run from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. and riders would be charged $1.
“We have also talked about planning a connector route next year which would connect Danbury, King and Walnut Cove,” said Cockerham. “With that you are looking at about $72,000 a year to run the route, so the local match would have to be about $32,000. If we could get those first two routes self-sufficient, then maybe we could expand further into the county.”
Commissioner Jimmy Walker said he liked the plan and noted that he was sure there would be at least two votes on the board in favor of it. He noted that if the routes could be established it could reduce the amount the county pays for single-trip transportation assistance.
Cockerham said grant funding for the project would be applied for in November, but noted that YVEDDI currently has enough funding to start the service as soon as July if local matching funds could be obtained.
“We don’t care where the money comes from, as long as the money is there to fund it,” he said, adding that they would likely hold a public hearing on the proposed route before starting the service.
King City Manager Homer Dearmin said he was unsure how the city council would react to the proposal.
If the project obtains funding, it would be managed by YVEDDI, but efforts to get it started are being spearheaded by a local committee chaired by County Health Director Scott Lenhart. He said the project would be modeled on a similar system in Rockingham County which has proven to be successful.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.