News graphic Residents in three Knox County villages will have easier access to work and shopping in Mount Vernon when the Knox Area Transit’s Village Express Service begins operation in June. This map shows the pickup and drop off locations in Centerburg, Danville, Fredericktown and Mount Vernon.
News graphic
Residents in three Knox County villages will have easier access to work and shopping in Mount Vernon when the Knox Area Transit’s Village Express Service begins operation in June. This map shows the pickup and drop off locations in Centerburg, Danville, Fredericktown and Mount Vernon.

MOUNT VERNON — Knox Area Transit’s Village Express Service should be ready for full operation by June 3, KAT Director Martin McAvoy informed Knox County Commissioners during their Thursday regular meeting. McAvoy was joined by Matthew Kurtz, director of Knox County Job and Family Services, which provides oversight to KAT.

This year, Village Express Service has been the main expansion project KAT has taken on, McAvoy said. The mayors of each village to be served — Danville, Fredericktown and Centerburg — have been made aware of the service.

“We’ve tried the route. It’s tight but it works,” McAvoy said.

Village Express will serve Danville, Fredericktown and Centerburg each hour on the hour from 6 a.m. through 9 a.m. each morning, Monday through Saturday, and afternoons from 1-4 p.m. Costs will be $1 for service to Mount Vernon, and another $1 for an additional trip, such as to the Industrial Park. KAT does work with JFS clients to provide rides allotted them for those who qualify.

Passenger pickup points for each village will be:

•Danville, Sanctuary upper parking lot.

•Fredericktown, Senior Center and Mount Gilead Road.

•Centerburg, corner of Clayton and East Main streets.

News file photo Knox Area Transit’s 10-passenger vans will be seen around Centerburg more often when the Village Express Service begins in the southwestern Knox County village in June. The service, which transports residents to Mount Vernon, will also run from Danville and Fredericktown.
News file photo
Knox Area Transit’s 10-passenger vans will be seen around Centerburg more often when the Village Express Service begins in the southwestern Knox County village in June. The service, which transports residents to Mount Vernon, will also run from Danville and Fredericktown.

Village Express Service will drop off passengers at various points in Mount Vernon including Walmart, Kroger, the intersection of Chestnut and Division streets, the License Bureau, Taylor Road, McGibney Road, Williams Street and Jackson Street.

In addition, a major drop-off point, or hub, will be at The Station Break, 160 Howard St. It will serve as a changing station, where riders needing transport to the Industrial Park for work can board a larger shuttle that will transport them there “on the half-hour” — 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., etc. Commissioners Bill Pursel, Teresa Bemiller and Thom Collier peppered McAvoy with operational questions, with Pursel asking if a Danville rider boarding Village Express at 6 a.m. would make it to work by 7 a.m. McAvoy said they would, arriving at the Industrial Park about 6:45 a.m.

Village Express Service passenger vehicles seat nine to 10 passengers and have bike racks for those driving bicycles to pick-up points. The vehicles are also equipped with three video cameras.

Kurtz said the more capacity that KAT offers potential passengers, the more they respond by using KAT services. KAT overall ridership increased from 60,810 from January through April of 2018 to 63,068 from January through April of this year. Ridership can range from 700 per day to 900 or more per day. So the more bus service capacity KAT offers, the more that potential riders will take the county up on the offer and use services, according to Kurtz.

“We certainly haven’t reached (full) saturation at this point,” Kurtz said, adding that KAT is reaching out to Mount Vernon Nazarene University, and other passenger sites such as Knox Community Hospital, for ridership options.

McAvoy said on-demand rider services will continue. However, with Village Express Service offering a more affordable way to get to work for some passengers, in many cases it may supplant on-demand services. Its rides start at $4.50, one way, and increase from there depending on distance.

“I want to make sure we’re getting people where they need to go,” McAvoy said, offering that the afternoon times of Village Express Service — 1-4 p.m., on the hour — can always be adjusted to 2-5 p.m. if ridership requests change.

This year, KAT is funding Village Express Service operations on its own. But next year, the villages will be asked to contribute to operating funds from their general funds, commissioners said. The Industrial Park will be asked to contribute as well. Kurtz said local revenue support for public transportation is critical and asked for in order to gain federal grants.

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Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or larry@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews