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SMTS offering two new routes
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SMTS offering two new routes

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SMTS

SMTS recently announced two additional "Beyond Connect" routes, one offered to Bismarck and Leadwood on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and one offered to Doe Run and Iron Mountain Lake on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Southeast Missouri Transportation Service (SMTS), the regional public transportation network based in Fredericktown, has added new routes to St. Francois County. The center of county government, Farmington, will now be connected with Doe Run, Iron Mountain Lake, Leadwood and Bismarck, beginning Monday.

Ann Stevens, St. Francois County route supervisor at the Farmington office, said they’re still working out the kinks before they make their new stops.

“We’re so excited to be able to add Leadwood, Bismarck, Iron Mountain Lake and Doe Run,” she said. “So many people in those towns need help with transportation, I’m glad we’re able to offer it.”

Betty McIntyre, director of West County Community Hope Center which offers resources to underserved groups needing help, said she was thrilled to hear SMTS was branching out to her town.

“It starts Monday. So we really, really have to get organized and going with this. I'm more excited than anything,” McIntyre said. “I'm so thankful that (SMTS) remembered us. We were not forgotten.

“The big issue now becomes getting people to ride it, because they will eliminate it if people don't ride. So we need people riding it.”

Getting ready for the new routes is something SMTS is also concentrating on, even as the Farmington branch moves from its operation at Liberty Hall on Washington Street to a place where they can park their 29-bus fleet, at the former Centene Corporation location at 840 Progress Dr. in the industrial park.

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“We’re still trying to learn the routes ourselves,” Stevens said. “But we’re practicing them and getting them down, and we’re looking forward to adding new towns to our regular routes. The great news is, August is our anniversary month, so there’s no charge for riding. We also hope to iron out all the routes before people start paying.”

The rates for the two new routes, Bismarck/Leadwood and Iron Mountain Lake/Doe Run, will be $7 for a day pass for a single rider, and $14 for a family day pass up to five people. Kids under 5 years old ride free, although they must be in a car seat. Those 16 and older can ride unaccompanied by an adult.

The original, main Farmington Connect route, which is $1 per ride, $3 for a day pass, or $6 for a family-size day pass, will still run its usual routes around town on a Monday-Friday basis, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.: Walmart, Senior Center, St. Francois Manor, Birch Tree Apartments, and return to Walmart, with points in between as requested, such as to Whispering Pines, Harps, New Era Bank, the library, Probation and Parole, VA Clinic, and Parkland Health Center.

Beyond Connect Bonne Terre/MAC route will operate Monday-Friday, five times a day on the hour, and include Walmart, A Friend’s Place in Bonne Terre, Desloge Casey’s, Eugene Field Apartments in Park Hills, and return to Walmart, with points in between as requested, such as to Mineral Area College, Rosener’s in Park Hills, Bonne Terre Harps, Desloge Walmart, and Whistle Stop in Park Hills.

The two new routes will be offered on alternating days.

The Beyond Connect Leadwood/Bismarck route will be offered three times a day Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8-9 a.m., noon-1 p.m. and 4-5 p.m. Pick-up in Leadwood will be at 20 minutes after the hour in front of City Hall. Pick-up in Bismarck will be at Roy’s gas station at 35 minutes after the hour.

The Beyond Connect Iron Mountain Lake/Doe Run route will operate two times a day, Tuesday and Thursday, from 8-9 a.m., noon-1 p.m., and 4-5 p.m. Pick-up in Doe Run will be at 10 minutes after the hour at Sherry’s Convenience Store, and pick-up at Iron Mountain Lake will be at 25 minutes after the hour at City Hall. Trips to Doe Run’s Dollar General are available on request at 40 minutes after the hour.

The two new routes are both scheduled to wind up at Farmington Walmart on the hour, where riders can catch SMTS’s Farmington Connect route to make additional stops at no extra charge. Passengers can also arrange for “deviated stops,” which are prearranged a day in advance for boarding or deboarding the SMTS bus at a safe, legal stop up to a quarter of a mile off the published route.

For more information or to schedule a ride, call 573-431-5765. Hearing impaired persons may call Relay Missouri TTY relay services at 1-800-735-2966 SMTS provides transportation for all people, all ages.

Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at shaas@dailyjournalonline.com.

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