BY JENNIFER BAILEY
City officials are optimistic funding soon will be identified for a new $2.8 million Danville Mass Transit bus transfer zone downtown. A groundbreaking then could occur this year.
DMT director John Metzinger met with Illinois Department of Transportation officials in Chicago last month regarding a capital grant funding opportunity.
He said IDOT officials expressed interest in funding the entire project.
The city is eligible for about $3 million in funding from the new state capital grant program through IDOT’s Division of Public and Intermodal transportation. Funding also would be used for two new buses.
Hopefully next month IDOT will ask Danville Mass Transit to apply for the funding, Metzinger said, adding that he believes if they are asked to apply, the funding will be there for the project.
The status of the Danville Mass Transit transfer zone project is that the architectural drawings are 80 percent complete.
“We are very close to a final design,” Metzinger said.
The design will accomplish several things for Danville Mass Transit, including making the transfer island more Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible because buses can’t deploy ramps at several points; there will be improved indoor and outdoor waiting spaces, which will include heat in the winter and restroom facilities; and there also will be a saw-tooth boarding area.
The new loading area means dedicated stopping locations for each bus and buses will be able to pass each other. Now, buses can get stuck behind each other.
The $2.8 million costs include reconstruction of the entire property, new pavement, sidewalks, boarding locations, rainwater usage and a solar energy component with solar panels on the roof to power the new 1,000-square-foot shelter building.
The public restrooms will be available for both riders and downtown visitors — something downtown merchants have asked for previously.
“It will be a huge improvement and help with the overall aesthetics,” Metzinger said.
Replacement also is a big issue for DMT.
Seven of DMT’s 16 buses are past their useful life, but are still being used and maintained as well as they can be, Metzinger said. DMT is receiving two Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District buses to use as back-ups until new buses can be procured.
“This is an interim solution …,” Metzinger said.
One new bus is about a year away from being delivered to DMT.
DMT also recently conducted a rider survey to gather demographic information about bus riders, measure their satisfaction and identify any additional needs. About 300 people completed the survey. The survey showed 89 percent of riders don’t have their own vehicle for personal use. Also, 27 percent of riders ride the bus to go to work.
“This shows DMT is essential for job access,” Metzinger said.
Also, 40 percent of riders have a disability.
He said the survey showed overall satisfaction with the drivers and the service, but there is room for improvement.
Bus drivers still are to review the survey results.