MARTINSBURG – Cheryl Keyrouze thinks that the area’s regional bus system is an underutilized resource with real potential for growth.
Keyrouze was named executive director of the Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority on Nov. 26. The former director of the Shepherdstown Visitors Center thinks she can spur on increased ridership for the PanTran bus service.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” Keyrouze said in a phone interview. “I think PanTran is something that has not been truly recognized in this region. It is such a benefit to both Jefferson and Berkeley Counties, and there is just so much opportunity for growth.”
Keyrouze said this growth will be spurred by two factors: a quickly increasing population in Jefferson and Berkeley counties, and the retiring baby boomer generation.
“Last year was the first full year of the baby boomers retiring,” Keyrouze said. “As baby boomers are retiring, they are starting to look for more urban/metropolitan areas to live, so that there is more sustainability, so they don’t have to rely on an automobile as much as they used to.”
This will not be Keyrouze’s first brush with transportation systems. As a county supervisor for Saratoga Springs, N.Y., she worked very closely with the Capital District Transit Authority.
“I was the only elected official in Saratoga County ever to be endorsed by the Capital District Transit Authority,” she said, adding her time working on transit systems in New York involved both the creation of new routes to serve commuters and training seminars to aid those unused to bus services. “Many people haven’t ridden the bus since high school. It can be intimidating.”
As PanTran head, Keyrouze also hopes to repeat a move she brought to New York: creating a transportation committee staffed with a variety of individuals with experience in transportation systems.
“The Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority has the most amazing staff,” Keyrouze said. “They are extremely well qualified, and they have such a talent to do good here.”