Granite Quarry on board with bus service

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
GRANITE QUARRY ó The Board of Aldermen gave an enthusiastic thumbs up Tuesday night to the possibility of daily bus service to eastern Rowan County.
“If we don’t take this opportunity, we’re going to miss something,” Alderman Jake Fisher said.
The board voted 4-0 for a resolution supporting the East Rowan Express. The resolution will be presented to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners Sept. 21.
Mayor Mary Ponds also is a strong supporter of the bus service, similar to the Rowan Express now making daily trips between Salisbury, China Grove, Landis and Kannapolis.
“I do think it will be a great asset for our community,” Ponds said.
Granite Quarry citizens attending a public hearing on the matter expressed general support Tuesday night.
Destinations of the proposed East Rowan Express would include Granite Quarry, the East Rowan YMCA (and Nazareth Children’s Home), Rockwell, Faith and the Rowan County Health-Department of Social Services location on East Innes Street in Salisbury.
Clyde Fahnestock, director of Rowan Transit Service, said his agency has applied for ó and expects to receive ó a $74,161 grant through Rural General Public “supplemental” funding.
A firm route schedule remains a work in progress, but it would have one bus making four morning and four afternoon trips Monday-Friday. Each roundtrip for the bus would take about 1.5 hours.
The East Rowan Express fare would be $1, which would cover free transfer passes to Salisbury Transit’s three bus routes and the “Express” that goes to southern Rowan and Kannapolis.
“We want to encourage participation,” Fahnestock said of the $1 fare.
Connections also are available in Kannapolis to the “CK Rider,” which serves Concord.
Ponds said the bus could benefit Granite Quarry citizens, seniors in particular, by providing inexpensive, roundtrip transportation to jobs, shopping, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, government offices, entertainment and the like.
Fahnestock said the route will cover 25 miles, and at eight trips a day would put 200 miles on the Express bus. It translates to about 50,000 miles a year for the East Rowan Express route, he said.
In its first year, the grant and a match from the Rowan County Board of Commissioners would cover expenses.
Fahnestock said RTS would then look to establish a local matching formula where all participating towns would pay a level share beginning in fiscal year 2011.
Fahnestock said his goal would be to keep the match of smaller towns, such as Granite Quarry, below $3,000 each.
Town Manager Dan Peters said he anticipates that most of Granite Quarry’s costs in the first year of operation would be in-kind ó the sweat equity needed to select and establish the local stops and promote the service.
Granite Quarry and Rockwell would have two to three stops each. Fahnestock said the towns will be asked to select safe, convenient spots that provide shelter for waiting passengers.
Each stop would be identified with a sign.