“They thought we’re a mobile hot spot, or part of the county GIS system and we went around and collected data on properties,” said Delaware Area Transit Agency executive director Denny Schooley about a study during a public hearing Thursday regarding changes in local bus service.
The possibility of changing the DATABus name and logo were among the findings of a transit plan and study the agency recently undertook.
“Many people in our community don’t even know what DATABus is or what it’s used for,” Schooley said. “People didn’t understand it was public transit.”
The size of the yellow buses also confused people, who thought they could only be used by senior citizens or people with disabilities.
“When people look at public transit, they think of the big 40-foot buses running up and down the streets,” he said.
The study also recommended later evening hours and more Saturday service — changes that Schooley said would require additional local funding.
Another potential change could have the buses making more of their stops along the street, instead of going up to a specific location. This would save time, but it would be similar to what other transit services do.
DATA operations director Crystal James outlined proposed changes in service that would go into effect on July 5. Most notable was discontinuing the purple route, also known as Delaware to Sunbury, due to low ridership. A bar graph showing DATA’s seven fixed routes showed that the Sunbury route had the lowest monthly ridership by far.
Schooley said he didn’t want to waste taxpayer money on a route that wasn’t being used.
The DATA administration met with representatives of the Simon Tanger outlet mall, who said they weren’t sure if its employees needed the service. The mall, which is in Berkshire Township and near Sunbury, will open later this month.
James and Schooley said there could be service to the mall in the future, if it is determined there would be enough riders. The route could be either east-west or north-south.
As for other service changes, James said there were stop additions and drops on the green, orange, yellow, blue and gray routes; and Saturday service more closely mirrored weekday service.
Another possible change would be adding a route from the bus hub on Park Avenue to the People In Need store on Johnson Drive, as well as DATA headquarters on Henderson Court. The route would run one day a week.
Members of the public who were on hand Thursday commented that the route changes were logical; the buses could be used at special events; and also hoped that providing rides for the disabled would continue, because it was their only means of travel.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.