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KATS opens new facility, offers free bus rides

Matthew Lane • Updated Jun 10, 2019 at 9:31 AM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Area Transit Service will begin operating out of its new facility at the corner of Main and Sullivan streets on Monday.

And also beginning that day, due to the “learning curve” for riders and drivers, KATS will be offering free bus rides on all routes for the remainder of the month.

“We hope this encourages people to utilize Kingsport’s public transit service and learn the new routes at no cost to them,” said Chris Campbell, KATS public transportation manager.

GRAND OPENING

KATS and city officials plan to hold a grand opening and ribbon cutting event for the new transit center on Friday at 10 a.m.

According to Campbell, all six bus routes have been improved, including the newest one, Route 6, which will now travel into Colonial Heights to serve additional riders and will stop at the Food City on Moreland Drive. Information about the new routes will be available online next week and new route books are currently available at the transit center.

Attendees can register their name in a drawing to win the grand prize of a yearly bus pass valued at $240.00. For more information about the routes, be sure to visit www.kingsporttransit.org.

ABOUT THE FACILITY

The $5.5 million, state-of-the-art facility is located at the corner of Main and Sullivan streets and has been under construction since October 2017.

The new transit center greatly improves upon its current Clay Street location. It will be much bigger — 6,500 square feet — and include a lobby with seating for passengers, more restrooms (men’s, women’s and a family one), a larger dispatch center (that can see the buses roll in), a driver’s area, conference rooms, administrative offices and a small workout room for the drivers.

Outside are 12 slots for buses, shelters with benches, bike racks and a small parking lot for staff. The center of the plaza has stamped, decorative concrete, public art and landscaping around the exterior. The building itself has a similar look when compared to other downtown buildings — red brick, sandstone panels, a metal roof and arches around the windows.

THE NEXT STEP

Kingsport has twice applied for $3.2 million in federal transit funds to go toward a second, $4 million phase of the project — a bus storage garage and vehicle wash facility. However, the city has not been awarded those grant dollars.

The garage would include storage for the entire fleet (currently 22 vehicles) and extra space for future vehicles, heavy duty roadbed/parking, and an area inside for light duty maintenance, such as cleaning and inspection.

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