The Delaware County Transit Board is expected to consider the recommendations of a study for its public transportation system next month.
The board initiated a transit development plan and local funding study for the Delaware Area Transit Agency last year since the county was added to the Columbus Urbanized Area two years prior, based on the 2010 census.
The consultant team, which carried out the study, included WSP Parson Brinckerhoff, Engage Public Affairs and Burges and Burges Strategists. The city of Delaware contributed $15,000 to the study on top of a federal grant of $25,600, according to DATA executive director Denny Schooley.
He presented a draft version of the study to City Council at its regular meeting July 11. The next steps include a review and refinement of the recommendations before the final report is submitted.
“We can start looking at each of the recommendations and if and how we implement those,” Schooley said.
Recommendations were based on market system analyses, online surveys and meetings with public and stakeholders. According to the study’s conclusions, Delaware County’s demographics pose a challenge for DATA, including new developments that are automobile-centric, the county’s affluent and rapidly aging population, and how many residents lack a vehicle.
The study also identified that DATA offers a hybrid of demand response, or door-to-door service and traditional fixed routes, with an emphasis on covering as much geographic area as possible. While the use of one-way loops for its fixed routes provide a short trip from origin to destination, the return trip can be much longer.
Short-term recommendations included DATA maintaining its current service model between the Delaware and Polaris areas; converting some one-way loops to a bi-directional service; simplifying the route to the Polaris area; and re-branding DATA’s fixed route services to improve public awareness that its services are not solely for the elderly or disabled.
Long-term recommendations through the next decade include extending service hours on weeknights to 9 p.m. and on weekends to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and reducing fares for its demand response to about $5 to $10 (the lowest fare is now $11). More routes would be converted, providing a bi-directional service instead of a one-way loop.
Schooley said that if the final version of recommendations is approved, DATA will continue to receive public input before implementing any changes.