Route changes proposed for Danville buses
DANVILLE — Kia King lives at the Vermilion Garden Apartments on North Bowman Avenue, a short distance from the Village Mall.
But to shop at the north County Market or other mall stores, King — who uses public transportation to get around town — must take the Bowman Avenue bus across town to the Danville Mass Transit transfer zone in downtown Danville, then catch one of the Vermilion Street buses that will take her back north to the mall.
"It's a long ride," King said, adding it's easier for her to buy groceries at the south County Market, just south of the transfer zone, than to go the one that's closer to her home.
That's about to change.
Mass transit officials are proposing a number of route changes aimed at improving connectivity from the city's east side to the north side, increasing the frequency of service to retail development and employment centers along North Vermilion Street and improving on-time bus performance. If approved, the changes will take effect in October to coincide with the opening of the new Meijer store.
"We're very excited about the expansion of services, and our riders have been very positive about the changes as well," said John Metzinger, the Danville public transportation director, who will present the proposed changes to Danville Public Works Committee members today. He will also demonstrate a new fare collection system, which could take effect next Monday.
"What we're most excited about is the expanded service to the north end of Danville for jobs and shopping," he continued, adding two buses would go to Wal-Mart every 30 minutes instead of one bus every 60 minutes "and also the changes that will improve on-time performance."
The proposed expansion would cost about $452,000 to put in place over a two-year period, Metzinger said. He said half of the funding would come from a Jobs Access grant from the Federal Transit Administration, and the rest would be covered with local and state operating funds.
Under the expansion, the DMT would bring on an additional full-time driver, Metzinger said. It currently has 15 full-time drivers and four extra board drivers, who are part-time.
Earlier this year, the DMT added another bus in preparation for the changes, Metzinger said. He hopes to receive several additional buses this fall thanks to a state transportation grant.
The mass transit system currently has 14 routes, most of which haven't been modified for more than a decade, and the changes would affect nine of them, Metzinger said. He said on-time performance was a major concern raised in the most recent passenger survey.
"It varies by route," he said. "With the increased use by passengers in wheelchairs and other riders, it meant those routes needed to be evaluated."
Officials studied every segment of every route. They determined that a number of segments were underuse. For example, they evaluated 47 trips on the Grant Street-Logan Avenue and had only seven riders use the service north of Voorhees Street.
"That was one-tenth of the riders," Metzinger said, adding the proposed changes would discontinue service to those areas and streamline other services to improve overall efficiency.
Metzinger said the changes aren't set yet. The public still has time to review the proposed changes and offer feedback.
Officials will finalize the plans over the next few weeks and then prepare to implement them.
The proposed changes are available on the DMT's website at http://www.ridedmt.org.
Comments can be sent to John Metzinger, Danville public transportation director, by calling 431-0653 or emailing him at email@example.com.
Proposed route changes
Here are the proposed Danville Mass Transit route changes:
No. 1/Grant Street-Logan Avenue
The route would be shortened to discontinue service north of Voorhees, which sees very little ridership.
No. 2/Gilbert Street-Logan Avenue
The bus currently goes up Gilbert Street, then over to Vermilion Street all the way to Wal-Mart. The route would be shortened to end at the north County Market at the Village Mall. Service to Liberty Lane, Liberty Village, Big R, Jackson, Townway, Kmart door also would be discontinued.
"That's a pretty significant change for riders," Danville Public Transportation Director John Metzinger said, adding the changes would improve on-time performance and service to Seminary Street.
He also said two other routes would go to Walmart.
"Once they realize they'll have better service going north, they'll be very pleased," he said.
In addition, the route would add two evening trips each weekday to improve service along Gilbert Street and relieve time pressure on the Evening Dial-A-Ride service.
No. 3/Vermilion Street
The route would be shortened, and service to Kmart and Big R would be discontinued.
Metzinger said many riders from the Vermilion House senior housing use Routes 2 and 3. However, their bus stop will be served by Routes 4 and 11.
No. 4/Bowman Avenue
This bus currently goes up Bowman Avenue to the Vermilion Garden Apartments. Service would be discontinued inside Vermilion Gardens, Bowman Estates, Holiday Hills and Valleyview Apartments.
However, the route would be extended to go to Meijer and Wal-Mart, as well as Jackson and Townway streets and Winter Avenue, a new service area aimed at improving access to parks and housing.
The No. 4 bus also will interline with Route 11 at Wal-Mart.
"That will help riders who live along the east side of Danville," Metzginer said. "Now, if they want to go north, they won't have to go downtown first. They'll be able to go directly to and from shopping or work on North Vermilion."
No. 7/Williams Street-Main Street-Logan
The route currently goes as far east as Oregon Street, but it will be shortened to end at Indiana Street. The bus will still provide service to the Department of Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System and Danville Area Community College.
No. 8/Douglas Park
The route will be discontinued in an underused area along Perrysville Road east of Bowman Avenue, South Griffin Street and Texas Avenue.
No. 11/Vermilion Street
The route currently ends at the north County Market. Service would be extended along North Vermilion Street to the Meijer and Wal-Mart. This is the bus that interlines with Route 4 at Wal-Mart, making it easier for residents to and from the north and east sides.
Service along Franklin Street would be discontinued. However, Franklin and Seminary streets would be served by the No. 2 bus.
No. 14/Lynch Spur
The route will be expanded to serve the Holiday Hills neighborhood and Valleyview Apartments, which will be discontinued in Route 4.