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Half of Longview Transit bus routes to change

By Richard Yeakley
Sept. 24, 2013 at 11 p.m.

Three of Longview's six bus routes will change starting Oct. 1 with the most significant re-routing of Route 5 to help riders of the now-ceased Route 7 pilot program.

The changes, which will affect Routes 4, 5 and 6, were put in place to address transportation needs that a failed inter-city route to Gladewater helped identify and were presented to the Public Transportation Advisory Committee on Tuesday.

"Since (Route 7) has come to an end we have tweaked our route to encompass that 75 percent that was basically Longview," said Longview Transit General Manager Scott Lewis.

The Longview Transit bus system had more than 21,000 passengers in August, and nearly 160,000 passengers so far this year.

Routes 6,5, and 3 compete for the busiest routes, said Director of Operations Tequita Mumphrey.

The Route 7 pilot program, operated for six months from the start of March until Aug. 31, connected Longview and Gladewater on U.S. 80, but the majority of its 2,365 total riders boarded and got off the bus inside Longview - taking advantage of the route's path which provided transport to Harrison Road.

Route 7 took people straight to work at places like the Longview Sanitation Department, Genpak, Trinity Industries and Crosby Group-Lebus Manufacturing - which had never been offered before.

The route modifications make sure people don't lose public transportation to and from work.

The biggest adjustment will come to Route 5, which now runs west on Marshall Avenue then turns north on Silver Falls Road about half way through its circuit.

To continue service to those industries, Route 5 will veer south on Premier Road from Marshall Avenue, west on Harrison Road, and north on Fisher Road before continuing north on Silver Falls, if there are riders who need to be taken in that direction.

Otherwise, the bus will continue its current route, bypassing the three additional turns.

"It wasn't necessary for us to have the route to go there every hour," Mumphrey said. "We will start off slow like that for cost reason and to see if it works and to sample the area for a while, and if it takes off and we need to add it (permanently) to our route, we will do that."

Mumphrey said that since August, Longview Transit has given free rides to those employees using Route 7 to get to businesses on Harrison Road, and that those customers could now be folded into the system's Route 5. They will pay as of Oct. 1.

"This speaks volumes about a bureaucracy that takes into consideration the needs of a few, and you guys need to be commended for not forgetting that fact," said PTAC Chairman Steve Crane.

Route 5 also covers Judson and McCann Roads and much of West Loop 281.

The six-month pilot program for Route 7 was funded by a grant obtained by the East Texas Council of Governments with support from Longview and Gladewater.

The goal was to help residents of both cities reach the other, but it failed to catch on as an inter-city mode of transportation.

Gladewater Councilman Delbert Burlison said he was "really, really sorry" that the inter-city route failed.

"I am really, really sorry that it did not work," Burlison said. "I would thank ETCOG and Longview Transit for being willing to try something different. I think that speaks the world of them, I am sorry it did not work."

Burlison said it made sense that Longview Transit would adjust their route to help residents who had used Route 7.

Route 4, which serves East Longview including Eastman, Alpine and Eden roads will also be given a minor tweak.

The route's circuit will now take the bus across Alpine Road on Eden Drive, south on Lafayette Drive and west on Page Road to help residents of both Page Place I and Page Place II to use the fixed route system.

The route will then reconnect with Alpine Road and head south.

Mumphrey said several residents in the retirement communities currently used Longview Transit's para-transit service because they were unable to cross Alpine Road to catch the bus.

The adjustment will allow increased mobility for residents of both retirement centers, Mumphrey said.

The final change will adjust the beginning of Route 6, which zig-zags through South Longview.

From the Longview Transit Transfer Center at Magrill Plaza, Route 6 heads south of First Street, west on Methvin Street and south on Green Street, but a new, larger bus being purchased by Longview Transit will not be able to fit underneath two Green Street underpasses near Nelson and Cotton Streets.

The augmented path, would take Route 6 to the east passing the Longview Transit Main Office, Salvation Army and Newgate Mission before connecting back to Green Street.



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