Leaders gather for ceremony to launch of Rowan Express

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
CHINA GROVE ó State and local leaders gathered Thursday for the ceremonial launching of Rowan Express, a low-cost bus service linking Kannapolis and Salisbury through Landis and China Grove.
Starting Monday, April 6, buses will run morning and afternoon, offering easy access to county offices, medical facilities and shopping opportunities.
The fare is $1 each way, with a free transfer onto either the Salisbury or Kannapolis-Concord Rider system.
Kannapolis Mayor Bob Misenheimer, a retired school principal, talked about the hardships for families without a car, including getting to the county seat in Salisbury to get a birth certificate required for school admission.
“People without transportation are severely handicapped in this society,” Misenheimer told the group of 30-plus gathered at the Tadlock South Rowan Regional Library.
Misenheimer cited the many residents of South Rowan and Cabarrus County who go to the Hefner VA Medical Center for treatment.
Starting April 6, they can make the trip from home and back for $2.
Carl Ford, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, thanked the towns and Food Lion for their support.
Rowan Transit is operating the bus service, which is funded primarily by federal air quality mitigation funds.
Nancy Dunn, who represents Division 9 on the N.C. Board of Transportation, and Division Engineer Pat Ivey joined in the ceremonial launch.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Dunn, pointing out the effort to offer the bus service started in 2004.
Dunn said similar projects across the state provide seamless transportation, conserve fuel and reduce air pollution.
Dunn stressed the importance of public transportation, adding the state can’t continue building new roads.
“Finally we can all be connected,” Susan Kluttz, mayor of Salisbury, said, marveling that the fare will be only $1.
Officials and guests walked outside the library to cut a ribbon tied around two new Rowan Express buses, one sporting a “Kannapolis” tag on the front, with “Salisbury” on the other.
The buses have wheelchair lifts and can transport two chairs plus 12 passengers.
Jonathan Cooper, who works for MV Transport, the company which operates the county transportation system, will be driving one of the buses daily.
“It’s wonderful to drive, it’s a wonderful ride,” Cooper said. “It’s a very good feel.”
Granite Quarry Town Administrator Dan Peters and Rockwell Mayor Beau Taylor came to watch and listen. Peters said he hopes Rowan Express will one day add a detour to Granite Quarry.
Stops will be at the Kannapolis and Salisbury train stations, Landis Town Hall, the police station in China Grove and the Food Lion on U.S. 29 in China Grove.
Buses will depart the Kannapolis and Salisbury stations at 6:17 a.m., making stops in China Grove and Landis, arriving at the end destination at 7 a.m., and then retracing the route.
The buses will repeat the routes in the afternoon starting at 2:17 p.m., with the final stop at 6 p.m.
Copies of the schedule are available at the bus stops.
For more information on Rowan Express call 704-216-8888.