At one point or another most of us need, or find it more desirable, to use public transportation. Financial constraints, vehicle breakdowns and employment changes may lead to different travel needs. One may also be without a personal mode of transportation due to lifestyle choices or a desire to avoid the hassles of driving. Urban and even some suburban areas are designed for walkability and are more conducive to a variety of modes of public transport. However, rural communities have more challenges due to the long distances between points A & B. Martinsburg, Charles Town, Shepherdstown, and Harpers Ferry are all 5 to 10 miles apart with few options for walking. There is a bicycle path located parallel to the four-lane Route 9, but to traverse it on foot from Martinsburg to Charles Town would be a considerable feat. The fulfillment of public transportation needs is an important piece of the continued growth and development of rural areas. In this article, we will explore the different options available in Martinsburg and the Eastern Panhandle, a region with a mix of rural and urban areas.
The Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority E.P.T.A., formerly known as PanTran, is the public bus and van service for Martinsburg and the Eastern Panhandle. The E.P.T.A. system recently expanded its transit routes to include Hedgesville, Shepherdstown, Charles Town, and Harpers Ferry in West Virginia and the Brunswick, Maryland MARC Train station. Notable locations in the transit system are Macy’s and Fed-Ex, the Martinsburg DMW, Berkeley Medical Center, Blue Ridge Community Technical College and the VA Medical Center. The E.P.T.A system runs six days a week, excluding Sunday. The E.P.T.A.works to maintain affordability for all ages, situations and socioeconomic groups. Half-fare cards are offered for those over the age of sixty, receiving Medicare assistance or having a verifiable disability. Half-fare cards may be used for a 50% discount off the price of a cash fare (not available for on demand service). Discounts may also be available for students at any educational level. These 25% off passes are for discounts off the current monthly pass rate only.
The E.P.T.A also provides a demand response service, which allows customers to request transportation from one location to another on an as-needed basis. This service requires scheduling a day in advance and is a great option for those in need of transport to a scheduled appointment. If the customer requires assistance, due to medical or other conditions, it is important to remember that E.P.T.A drivers cannot assist while on route, but aides do ride for free. While the E.P.T.A. has made great strides in improving its routes and availability, particularly in the areas of transportation to work and shopping venues, all programs have limitations. One limitation is the need to plan ahead for stop times as well as the distance to the designated bus stop. There are also possible bus delays for weather and traffic. Bus route and stop schedules may also be reduced on weekends and holidays. For more information on the E.P.T.A. please visit their website at www.eptawv.com.
For those looking for something more flexible and private, Coast & Valley Taxi, LLC (304- 616-8560), Blue Cab (304-441-6000) and Courtesy Cab LLC (304-267-8294) are taxi companies providing services in the Martinsburg area. A taxi will pick you up at our current location and, for a fee, transport you to the destination of your choice. It is important to understand that the convenience and speed of a taxi can be offset by the cost of the fare.
The Martinsburg Train Station provides access to two train services: Amtrak and the Maryland Area Regional Commuter
Train (MARC). Amtrak services connect to train stations all over the country. Using Amtrak train services can be a rewarding travel experience. The ticket prices are reasonable and, with some planning, can be a great travel alternative for in-state and out-of-state travel. Sleeper cars can be arranged for long distance travel.
The Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) Train Service is a weekday public transportation service traveling to Hagerstown, Frederick, and Washington, DC. Trains begin leaving the Caperton Train Station on E. Martin Street for the Washington D.C. area around 5:00 am with return trains arriving well into the evening at about 9:30 PM. The MARC train website has great resources for timetables, prices and delay information. A one way fare is $5.00, making the MARC train an affordable commuting option. A drawback to using the MARC train is the lack of weekend service.
Using the Caperton Train Station for Amtrack and MARC train services requires arrangements for parking. There are options of parking in municipal lots on the Caperton Train Station property or a short walk away. Rates for day or overnight trips are as low as $1 per weekday or $20 for a monthly pass. Please visit the City of Martinsburg website for further information on parking rates and policies.
Are there other public transportation solutions in Martinsburg we missed? Please let us know.
(Photo Credits: Nicholas Trietsch)