Freedom bus line adds stop at Tanger Outlets

April 29, 2013
A Freedom Line bus makes a stop.

Tanger Outlet customers and employees will soon be seeing the South Strabane Township shopping complex’s first and only public transit stop.

The Washington County Transportation Authority plans to add the stop to all but its earliest morning runs beginning Wednesday.

The stop will be in the parking lot adjacent to the walkway to the Brooks Brothers and Calvin Klein stores.

“It’s good news, I think,” said Sheila Gombita, executive director of the Washington County transportation agency.

The first stop at Tanger Outlets on the McDonald-Canonsburg trip to Washington will be at 9:15 a.m., and approximately every 90 minutes thereafter, with the last stop on that run at 4:45 p.m.

The Washington to Canonsburg-McDonald run will make its first stop at Tanger Outlets at 10:35 a.m., with its last Tanger stop at 6:05 p.m.

Wednesday also marks the beginning of the third and final year of the Freedom Line pilot program, which has a variety of funding sources.

“Decisions are to be made within the next four to five months as to where we’re going to go with it. We plan to try and look for a local match. Ride it now, and that way it will continue,” Gombita said.

The stop at the shopping complex, which opened in August 2008, came about through requests from both Tanger employees and people who wanted to take the bus to shop there.

With the addition of Tanger Outlets comes the subtraction of a stop at the Meadowbrook housing plan in North Strabane Township, due to lack of ridership.

Use of the Freedom Line is increasing, according to statistics Gombita provided.

“The best month we had for ridership was last October, when we transported a total of 1,763 passengers, or 3.7 passengers per hour,” Gombita said. “We are starting to see an increase in daily ridership again as the weather improves.”

Ridership among senior citizens, who ride free with state-issued transit identification or a Medicare card, increased 37 percent during the 2012-13 fiscal year that ended March 31.

Half-fare passengers with disabilities who register their status with the Washington County Transportation Authority pay a fare of 75 cents. Their ridership has increased 89 percent in the past year.

Full-fare ridership has increased 34 percent. Other riders, which include transfers from Washington City Transit, have increased 43 percent.

Total passengers on the Freedom Line in the past year were 13,244, up from 9,233 the previous year.

Freedom Line stops include Havelock Commons/Presbyterian Senior Care-McDonald library and McDonald Giant Eagle grocery store; Cecil Township municipal building and senior citizen center; Canonsburg, Valley View Terrace, Canon House, the senior center and Shop 'n Save grocery store; in front of Shelley’s Pike Inn, Houston; Tanger Outlets; Meadows Racetrack and Casino; Strabane Square and Trinity Point shopping centers; and East Chestnut Street park-and-ride lot between North College and North Main Street, Washington.

Freedom Line does not mark its stops, and Tanger will be no exception, but passengers are able to flag the bus at places other than the designated stops.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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