Highland Area Rural Transportation System (HARTS) has announced the return of the loops on Monday, June 28, that run in both Hillsboro and Greenfield now that the statewide health orders have been lifted and the pandemic has subsided.
“We’ll have two loops in Hillsboro and one in Greenfield,” FRS Transportation Director Damon Lucas told The Times-Gazette. “Our vehicles go back around each loop every hour on the hour, so people know what to expect.”
Lucas said the route loops began in the beginning of March 2020 but after about three weeks, had to be shutdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the state of Ohio’s subsequent emergency health mandates.
He said the loops would be in operation between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. in both Hillsboro and Greenfield, adding that in Hillsboro the loop was designed with stops at key points such as Kroger, Walmart, Highland District Hospital, Job & Family Services and the Highland County Homeless Shelter.
“These routes can deviate, since they’re typically on a fixed route,” he said. “But if somebody can’t make it to the stop, we can pull off the route, pick them up and take them where they need to go on that route.”
He said a rider in need of a small deviation in the route should alert the driver when they board the bus and that the deviation would be made with no problem.
An added bonus to eliminate excessive wait times in Hillsboro is the addition of a second bus that Lucas said would run in the opposite direction on the loop about 30 minutes later, allowing a person to reach their destination and then catch the other bus to take them back home without a lot of wait time.
“They can stop along the route, where the stops are going to be, and go anywhere they want in town, in Hillsboro or Greenfield, for just a dollar, every time you get on, ” he said.
A connector route between Hillsboro and Greenfield won’t be coming back with the reopening of the HARTS routes, but what Lucas called “demand response” will still be available between the county’s two largest population centers by calling FRS Transportation at 937-393-0585.
“Be sure to call our office first,” he stressed, “and we’ll come out in one of our smaller vans and take people where they need to go, again for a dollar.”
The demand response service could also be used for a person living in Sinking Spring that needs transportation to Leesburg and then back home to Sinking Spring, with Lucas advising to call 24 hours in advance and that the rate would be $3 each way.
He said an added bonus for residents that live inside the city limits of Hillsboro is a 30-day pass that will allow for transportation anywhere in the county, any day of the week except for weekends, for $20, with the same month-long pass costing $30 for those that live outside the Hillsboro city limits.
“Many of those that utilize these passes are folks going to work,” he said. “We’re probably taking upwards of 50 or more people to their places of employment every day.”
Public transit began in Adams County in January, and Lucas said that move lended itself to inter-county travel between Highland County and its neighbor to the south.
“If somebody lives in Adams County and wants to come to Hillsboro, it’s just a $4 charge,” he said. “They could be living all the way down by the river in Manchester and come to Hillsboro it’s just $4 each way.”
He said an inter-county pass similar to the Highland County pass is available for $35.
After the forced shutdown last year, Lucas said he is unsure how the reopening of the Hillsboro and Greenfield loops will go, but is optimistic they would be well received now that summer has arrived.
“We’re hoping with the warm weather that people will see us out and aboutand give us a try and see just how beneficial it will be in getting them to work or wherever they need to be,” he said.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.