DCT to expand flex services in July


Beginning July 1, Delaware County Transit (DCT) is expanding its flex service within the city of Delaware with added hours and Saturday service.

Currently, DCT’s flex service runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for trips beginning and ending in Delaware, and no Saturday service is offered. With the expansion this summer, flex service will be available from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays for trips within the city.

To assist with launching the expansion, DCT received an operating grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation through its Ohio Transit Partnership Program. The grant covers 50% of the funding needed to expand service while DCT will contribute the remaining 50%. The grant will mostly be used to add part-time drivers to facilitate the additional hours.

The decision to expand its services was a byproduct of DCT’s strategic plan development dating back to last year. Part of the process was public engagement, and it became very apparent people wanted earlier and later service in the city.

“As we were writing our strategic plan, we worked it into our budget and said, ‘This is what the community wants, so we need to launch it in 2o24,’” DCT Executive Director Andy Volenik told The Gazette. “It’s a low-hanging fruit opportunity, it’s what many of our partners — our friends at Jobs and Family Services, our retail clients that need employees to be able to get to their second-shift jobs — want. This is something that we just constantly heard. And also, people just want to go shopping later than 6 p.m. It was so obvious that when we did that process, we said we need to have this be part of our strategic plan and look to execute it in 2024.”

Volenik believes the demand for expanded services is a result of the continued development in Delaware as well as the success of DCT’s micro-transit, flex service that launched in 2020 and better serves the community’s needs.

“I think growth is absolutely a part of it. The more people you have, the more that service will be used,” he said. “And that’s what DCT is at the end of the day, a service. Two, the service that we provide is really, really good. To tell a bit of our story, our ridership has grown nearly 65% since 2021. These are rough numbers but in 2021, we provided 73,000 trips. In 2023, we provided 118,000 trips. This year, we’re looking to surpass that 118,000 fairly comfortably because people are using it because it’s such good service.”

Flex rides cost $2 for people ages 19-64 and $1 for everyone else, including anyone with disabilities. Children no older than 4 years old ride free with a paying adult. Rides can be scheduled on DCT’s app.

DCT’s demand response service, which services Delaware County at large, will remain in its current operating hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition to the expanded flex service in Delaware, DCT is preparing to bring the service to another Delaware County community. This fall, flex service will be launched in Sunbury and run Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will follow the same fare rates, and rides can be scheduled using the app. Volenik anticipates the service launching in October.

He later added, “We need to meet the moment, and that’s what we’re working towards today; being able to serve the public today but build toward serving it in the future. These are our first stepping stones.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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