Pat Duffy believes Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority drivers are "boycotting" a new bus stop near Warwood Commons, and he and at least one other member of the Wheeling Traffic Commission are furious about it.
Talk about that matter during the commission's monthly meeting Thursday also sparked discussion of another point of contention for Duffy and Commissioner Chris Hamm, who said they often feel disrespected by some members of Wheeling City Council - the body they are appointed to advise.
Earlier this year, commissioners after much discussion voted to recommend a bus stop be established near Save-A-Lot. City Council adopted that recommendation, and yellow curbs since have been painted and a sign installed to mark the new location.
Photo by Ian Hicks
Wheeling Traffic Commissioner Pat Duffy discusses an issue during a Thursday meeting.
But Duffy said he has seen people waiting for the bus further north on W.Va. 2, outside McDonald's. When he questioned them about the situation, he said, those people told him OVRTA drivers said that's where they had to go to catch the bus.
"The buses are refusing to stop there," Duffy said of the new stop, which is only 225 feet from the grocery store's entrance. "You're making (riders) carry groceries the extra distance in the rain, probably in the snow and in the ice, too. ... That's not the way it was supposed to be."
To get to where the buses are stopping, Duffy said, Save-A-Lot patrons - many of whom are elderly or disabled - must walk about 360 feet, cross two lanes of traffic entering and exiting the plaza and navigate around a strip of river gravel.
He added OVRTA dismissed as unfeasible every other option commissioners proposed, including having buses pull directly in front of the grocery store, and noted he spent several hours taking measurements and interviewing bus riders in an effort to come up with the best solution.
OVRTA Executive Director Tom Hvizdos said he has instructed his drivers to use the new stop. He said some of those drivers aren't happy about the change because they don't feel they have enough room at the new location to pull over and avoid blocking traffic, but he wasn't aware of any drivers refusing to stop there.
"As far as I know, we are in compliance with it at this time," said Hvizdos, noting he planned to look into the matter.
Hamm echoed Duffy's sentiments, pointing out that commissioners are unpaid volunteers, and it's frustrating to see the board's decisions ignored. He and Duffy also said some members of City Council, whom they did not name, have made insulting comments to them and questioned their usefulness to the city.
"If they (City Council) want us to relinquish our duties to them, I know there are two of us that would be more than willing to do that," Hamm said.