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Mar 13

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Longview Transit serves city with excellence

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The Longview Transit Crew getting ready for bus rodeo – Photo by Joycelyne Fadojutimi

A decade ago Longview’s residents and civic leaders perceived a need for an improved system of public transportation. They came together to create a bus system whose worth just keeps becoming more apparent. Longview Transit Management, Inc., commenced operations March 17, 2003. Like  most great things it started small, but has matured into something substantial and essential.

Here are some highlights:

In 2003, it had

  • Six routes and two Paratransit vehicles.
  • 18-20 employees, one supervisor and two dispatchers.

In 2005:

  • Award from the Department of Energy, recognizing Longview Transit as a leader in the quest to improve air quality via the use of propane fuel (alternative fuel source.)
  • Public Transportation Advisory Committee (PTAC) formed.

In 2006,

  • McDonald Association’s 1st Place Award for Increased Fixed Route ridership.
  • Longview Transit partners with R&K Distributors to begin providing Safe Ride Home on New Year’s Day. Starting at 8:00 p.m. and ending at 3:00 a.m. New year’s Day this service provides free rides to all the citizens of Longview.

In 2007,

  • Converted first propane-powered engine back to gas.

In 2010,

  • New Electric Fare Boxes installed to replace the older glass fare boxes which required exact change.

In 2011,

  • First Place Safety Award from McDonald Transit for operating the company’s safest paratransit system.
  • Master Plans I & II for the Multimodal Transportation Center.

In 2012,

  • Award from McDonald’s highest increase in fixed route passenger trips.
  • Fare increase.
  • All Day Passes introduced. $3.00 passes for all-day use.
  • Transfers discontinued.
  • Longview Transit begins participating the annual Dump the Pump Day to encourage people to ride public transportation and save money instead of driving a car.
  • Mobility Management position added to assist in outreach and customer mobility.
  • A slight change on Route 4, re-directing the route to allow buses to pick up disabled riders who live in assisted living centers along Highway 80, Shelton and Whaley, on the right side so they will not have to cross the road.
  • Hours of operations extended one hour, to 7:30 p.m.
  • Adopt-A-Shelter program introduced.

In 2013,

  • Begin Phase One on the Multimodal Transportation Center by purchasing land within the Multimodal Center.
  • Collaboration commenced between the East Texas Council of Governments, the City of Gladewater and Longview Transit on a six-month pilot program to provide a new route servicing Highway 80 west to Gladewater, Route 7 Highway 80, West.
  • Greyhound joins the Multimodal Transportation Center.
  • Greyhound
  • Amtrak
  • Longview Transit
  • On March 17, 2014 Longview Transit will celebrate its first 11 years in operation.
  • Scott Lewis 32 employees.
  • Becky Hill–management assistant

Presently Tequita Mumphrey is director of operations, James Torres is director of maintenance, and Damiya Pentecost is mobility manager. Longview Transit has just held its first annual Stuff-A-Bus event to gather proceeds for local non-profits. In this event, Longview Transit collaborated with the Longview Independent School District, the Spring Hill Independent School District and the Pine Tree Independent School District.

A newly bought, 2013 Eldorado EZ Rider II bus (102 inches wide, and 31 feet long) has just been added to the fleet. It cost $110,000 and has an estimated street life of 10 years. It will commence carrying passengers on the 11th anniversary, March 17, 2014.

Longview Transit uses federal grants to purchase Bus Shelters with solar power lighting and information kiosks. There are now 36 bus shelters and 14 bench locations.

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The newest addition to Longview Transit: 2013 Eldorado EZ Rider II -photo by Joycelyne Fadojutimi

  • Longview Transit  awarded a grant to finance automative call announcements on all buses.
  • Two more route deviations added to the six routes:
  • Page Road (Route 4.)
  • Harrison Road (Route 5.)

McDonald Transit Associates and the City of Longview manages Longview Transit. The management company employs the general manager. All other employees work solely for Longview Transit. The City of Longview provides 20% local funding. Additional funding comes from such state agencies as the Texas Department of Transportation, and from federal grants, from organs like the Federal Transit Administration.

Since its 2003 inception the following have served as Longview Transit’s general managers: Edward Esparza (2003-2008,) Godfrey Offoegbu (2006-2008,) Matt Penny (2008-2011,) Rob Stephens (2011-2013,) and (since 2013) Scott Lewis.

Employees who have served ten or more years are Tequita Mumphrey, Clinton Williams, William Gill, Jackie Henry and James Torres.

Ten-year employee Jackie Henry loves working with Longview Transit. Boredom plagued him following his retirement from private business, so he decided to help those who were having trouble getting from place to place. He says that although some riders take Longview Transit for granted, most realize it for what it is–a blessing from their city, enabling them to make it to their jobs, shopping and other essential destinations.

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2013 Eldorado EZ Rider II in bus rodeo action – photo by Joycelyne Fadojutimi

Driver William Gill has been behind the wheel 11 years, and describes his job as “pretty smooth.” He is very aware of the value of public transportation. In earlier years, he was dogged by car trouble. He has also  lived in Washington D.C., where public transportation is a major industry.

“Finally, Longview is coming out of the stone age,” he said. “For whatever reason, some people did not want public transportation in Longview.”

Congratulations to winners of the bus rodeo held on Sunday.

Lionel Luster won 1st in Fixed Route

Corey Vineyard won 2nd place in Fixed Route. Roselind Owen won 1st place in Paratransit.

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