Frederick County Commissioner Billy Shreve is once again targeting the county’s TransIT bus system. This time, he wants to expand the service to Sundays.
Shreve (R) said that running buses on Sundays could help people that work and have difficulty finding transportation.
“People have to work and we can’t shut the world down on Sundays,” Shreve said in an interview this week. “It’s a big deal for people that work. We need to find out how much it is needed, and how much it will cost. I’ll investigate it.”
This is not the first time Shreve has scrutinized the Department of TransIT.
Last September, Shreve suggested that high school students ride TransIT buses to school in order to save taxpayer money. Shreve argued that county taxpayers are paying for both TransIT and school buses, and if a TransIT route runs past a high school, there may be a way to save money by having the student take that bus.
But the Frederick County Board of Education took no action on Shreve’s idea.
Nancy Norris, the director of TransIT, said at the time that it would not be easy to implement because sometimes the buses are crowded and there may not be enough room for students.
Last November, Shreve said he was on a mission to increase ridership on TransIT, Despite county figures that showed an 8.84 percent increase in ridership in fiscal 2012, from 835,880 riders to 909,804.
From his personal observations that the buses are never full with people, Shreve said. He believes the routes are too complicated and difficult for people to understand.
Norris said at the time that the buses can be crowded with passengers. The bus driver goes through the route picking up one passenger here, two passengers there, until the bus is filled, she said.
Most of the passengers use the buses Monday through Saturday to get to Frederick Community College, Francis Scott Key Mall and the neighborhoods surrounding the Frederick Towne Mall, she said.
Finally, Shreve wanted to look at outsourcing the operation of TransIT to a private company to improve service. That idea has yet to be studied.
In an interview Tuesday, Norris said that expanding ridership to Sundays is an idea that has long been supported by riders.
“We do a customer satisfaction survey every three years and [Sunday service] is very positive,” she said. “People want that. They’ll be able to travel, and they very much want that.”
Though Norris said she did not have immediate numbers on how much it would cost, there is federal and state grant money available to pay for the expansion.
“Twenty-five percent would have to come from the county,” she said.
Revenue to the county is also generated from the fares bus riders pay. Connector and shuttle routes one-way cost $1.25. TransIT-plus paratransit service one-way is $2 for a medical trip and $3 for other trips.
The county has a fleet of 53 vehicles, consisting of large and small buses, shuttles, a minivan, hybrid sedans and utility vehicles. TransIT currently operates nine different connector routes around the county.
The connector routes could be expanded to Sundays.
Norris said for fiscal 2014, which ends June 30, they are asking for $4,184,154 from the federal, state and county governments to run the connector routes Monday through Saturday.