[Image: one of the new bus stop shelters in front of the Hoke County Public Library on Main Street in Raeford.]
They’re blue, they have seats, and they’ve been appearing in all sorts of places around Hoke County.
What are these new bus stop shelters, and why are they showing up?
The county is installing covered bus stops at locations such as the library, shopping centers and near the Butterball plant on East Central Avenue. The shelters will have bus transportation provided by the Hoke Area Transit Service (HATS) as part of a new service.
HATS plans to launch what’s called a “deviated fixed route,” director Nancy Thornton said. The deviated fixed route will allow the service to continue offering door-to-door service as it always has – a feature especially helpful for senior citizens, and people with limited mobility. It will also allow the department to operate a traditional sort of bus route with regularly scheduled stops.
There are going to be a total of 15 of the bus stops installed at places in Hoke where people commonly need to go, Thornton said.
Andrew Jacobs has been working on the project to get the stops constructed. The Hoke County Board of Commissioners approved a bus stop agreement in July.
Fourteen of the fifteen bus stop shelters have already been installed. The funding for the project came from grant money, Jacobs said.
HATS had originally planned to start the new service in September, but “We’ve been hit by COVID like everyone else,” Thornton said Tuesday. The department has to run an advertisement for 30 days announcing the service, first. They hope to launch the deviated fixed route service later this fall.
The shelters themselves are covered and have benches where people can sit. It will be helpful for HATS riders to have somewhere to get out of the elements while waiting on their ride, Thornton said.
“They don’t have to wait in the weather and they’ll be able to sit down and wait for the bus to come through. It’s going to be a positive thing for Hoke County,” she said.