The Sunbury route, also known as the purple route, will be dropped by the Delaware Area Transit Agency on July 5.
The route, which began service in January 2015, is being discontinued due to a lack of ridership. The number of riders per month ranged from a high of 71 to a low of 39.
“We had surveyed, and there was definitely interest based on the survey, but it wasn’t overwhelming,” said DATA spokeswoman Ginny Berry. “We wanted to allow the opportunity for people in Sunbury to have lower-cost transportation to get to jobs and services in Delaware. That was the intention.”
The opening of a new outlet mall near Sunbury this summer could not prevent the purple route’s elimination.
“We did meet with Tanger,” Berry said of the mall developer. “Our big concern was getting employees out there. It’s not that we don’t want to have a route there, but we’d really like to see rider direct demand telling us they want it, and community and business support to continue something like that.”
Some regular Sunbury riders have suggested a route with fewer stops and service days, she said.
“We still think there’s potential and a need for people to go to the outlet mall, but without community and business support, it might not be possible.”
Other changes will affect the Delaware city weekday routes; the green routes that go up and down U.S. 23; and Saturday service.
“There’s a lot of changes, mostly because of rider requests,” Berry said. “Some stops are coming off, based on low ridership and to allow new stops to be put in that riders requested. We’re adding some stops, like Giant Eagle and Kroger Marketplace. Saturday more closely mirrors the weekday routes — riders wanted more weekday stops on Saturdays. We’re really trying to be responsive.”
The riders are surveyed twice a year — in March and September — but DATA also responds to other types of service requests.
“Forty-three Delaware Court residents sent us a petition to add a stop,” Berry said. “The poor lady who passed around the petition sent it in March, and passed away in April. But bless her heart, we’re proposing to add that stop.”
The Delaware County Transit Board has also released a draft Transit Development Plan and Local Funding Study for DATA. The Plan and Study has recommendations for five-year, short-term improvements using current resources; and 10-year, long-term expanded services using additional funding.
“The study is meant to be a road map to things we could do in the future,” Berry said.
The complete service changes and the 108-page Plan and Study are available on the agency’s website, www.ridedata.com
There will be public hearings for both the service changes and the Plan and Study at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday in DATA’s offices, 119 Henderson Court.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.