Catching the bus

Apr. 15, 2013 @ 03:45 PM

“Take me to Bojangles,” said one rider.
“I’m going to social services,”  Jesse Baker  told driver John Edmonds as she boarded the Davidson County Transportation bus at her apartment complex with her 16-month-old daughter.
During a one-hour route through downtown and nearby neighborhoods, the small bus passes government office buildings and shopping areas, but only a few of the many as 60 possible stops have shelters. Several riders on a recent Wednesday morning circuit said they would like to have more shelters.  While the downtown county courthouse has a shelter, the stop at the county DSS offices does not. The bus serves about 160 people per day. 
“Many of the riders have a regular schedule, and I see them almost every day,” said Edmonds, a former truck driver. “They use the bus to go to and from work.”
Shoppers also ride the bus. The stop at the Walmart on Liberty Drive is the most popular. The service is valuable for residents who don’t drive or don’t have cars, said regular rider Margaret Mead, who walks five blocks from her home to a bus stop.
“A lot of low-income people ride the bus,” Mead said. “It is easy to get a schedule and find which stop you need to go grocery shopping or other places. I enjoy it. It’s a good service. I walk, then I ride the bus. More shelters would be nice.”
Meanwhile, Davidson County commissioners have yet to approve a $80,000 state grant that would pay for as many as 10 new bus shelters in Thomasville.  Walmart wants a shelter, according to county planners.
The county board first postponed a decision on the shelters last month to see if Thomasville would pay a $20,000 match, and take responsibility for building the shelters and maintaining them. With no confirmation yet from Thomasville, commissioners, who also have discussed charging a modest ride fee, declined this week to go forward with the grant application.
City Council could consider the match proposal as soon as Monday. A grant application must be completed by Sept. 1.
“This is a successful service, and we should buy in for the shelters,” Thomasville Councilman Ronald Bratton said this week during a council agenda meeting.
Transportation officials launched an expanded Thomasville fixed bus route March 4, adding more than 20 new stops throughout the city. Signs on roadside poles and traffic signs mark the bus stops. Bobby Dorsett said the service is convenient for him. He rode the bus to go to a Family Dollar store.
“It can be better than driving and parking a car,” he said. “It would be good if they could expand it closer to High Point.”
The expansion includes more of the Unity Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive area with new stops on Cedar Lodge Road and Fisher Ferry Street. There are more stops at additional businesses and community buildings, including the shopping strip on Cedar Lodge Road.
The 10 a.m. circuit had as many as 10 riders at any given time in a bus that has a capacity of a little more than twice that many passengers.
“Thank you Mr. John,” several of the riders said to Edmonds as they stepped off the bus.

Thomasville Bus Service

Riders: The service is free.

Service: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  Davidson County transportation officials launched an expanded fixed bus route March 4.  A connector route started last year between Lexington and Thomasville has about 14,000 riders a year.

Shelters:  Davidson County and Thomasville leaders are considering using a government grant and matching funds to build as many as 10 shelters.