Officials from the Delaware Area Transit Agency discussed some possible changes to its service during a public hearings Wednesday.
The most notable change would be eliminating the No. 8 Purple Delaware/Sunbury and the No. 9 Red Sunbury/Westerville routes.
“As a result of our changeover from being classified as a rural to an urban system, we wanted to expand our fixed route service throughout the county,” said executive director Denny Schooley during the first of two hearings Wednesday in DATA’s Henderson Court headquarters. “Sunbury seemed like an appropriate place to start.”
The routes began in January, and ridership grew monthly, peaking in April. However, ridership has dropped each month since, he said.
“We thought we would see an even greater increase when the weather got nicer, but there’s not many people utilizing the service,” Schooley said. “We’re proposing to eliminate those two routes. That’s not set in stone.”
Four people attended the first hearing.
“Personally, I’d like to see it held onto for another six months,” said Robin Lincoln of Safe Harbor Peer Support Services, which assists adults with a mental illness. “I’m still struggling to educate our fellow riders about what’s out there and available.”
Lincoln said she has a couple of new clients in the past few days who could use the Sunbury service.
“We have a van that picks people up, and we’ve been limited to Delaware city limits,” Lincoln said. “We see a need to expand down to Powell and over to Sunbury and Galena.”
“We have not heard many comments at all on these routes until we propose to eliminate them, and now we’re hearing a lot of comments,” Schooley said. “That’s what we want to get from the public, what we need to do. We’re here to serve the community.”
DATA could drop the routes as early as Sept. 11, which is 45 days after the idea was publicly announced.
“However, with the comments we’re getting, we may need more time to go back and re-evaluate,” Schooley said. “Maybe we just need to make adjustments, rather than complete elimination.”
Two other service adjustments were proposed. Operations director Crystal James said times for the Delaware Saturday routes may be expanded because of the length of time it takes to load mobility devices on the buses. Lastly, Schooley said a passenger has asked to add another run from Crosswoods back up to Delaware in the afternoon on the Green Route.
For those who were unable to attend the hearings, comments can be called in at 740-368-9033, Ext. 1, or mailed to: DATA Bus, public hearing comments, 119 Henderson Court, Delaware, OH 43015. The mailed-in comments can be received until 4 p.m. Aug. 19. The DATA Bus board will meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 in its offices and may make a decision at that time. The public may attend the board meeting.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.