DANVILLE — A facilities study was completed this year for Danville Mass Transit’s Jackson Street building.
DMT Director Lisa Beith said there are several designs for reworking the building, which includes administration offices, to be more customer-friendly and also allow more usable space for staff.
Design options include acquiring more land to build on to the maintenance facility and reworking the configuration of offices to allow a bigger lobby area for customers. The lobby would have a seating area.
Beith said there’s a lot of things they will have to consider in looking at the designs. There is an adjacent business parking lot and other land surrounding the building to the north and south for possible expansion.
Farnsworth Group was hired for the feasibility study through the Danville Area Transportation Study group, not to exceed $30,000.
Beith said they need more garage, break room and other larger spaces. Bus parking also is at capacity.
“COVID has taught us a lot about our facility. This place is pretty small and we’re paying the price for it,” she said, about not being able to social distance in some areas.
Changes being looked at to the DMT building are for: Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations to the office’s small ticket and lobby area and making it larger, more functional dispatch and office space, dedicated training and meeting office space, employee lunch and break areas, maintenance expansion for more indoor bus storage, tools and parts storage, and an upgrade to the existing garage area.
“This was really preliminary,” Beith said of the facilities study, adding that there isn’t one design they are absolutely settled on. “There are good and bad things about all of them. We’ll wait and see how much room we have to work with.”
DMT has received $2.2 million in Rebuild Illinois funds for land acquisition for the administrative/maintenance addition, and other upcoming projects.
The funding will be used to: purchase four 35-foot low-floor replacement buses; replace underground diesel fuel and waste storage tanks at 101 N. Jackson St., acquire land for administrative/maintenance upgrade and addition; and procure architectural/engineering services for administrative/maintenance upgrade and addition.
Beith said the first project to address in 2021 will be to replace the underground storage tanks.
With funding too for the additional land purchase, they’ll move forward with architectural and engineering planning depending on what design they decide to go with, she said.
The Illinois Department of Transportation expects the grant will be ready for execution after the first of the year. DMT will look in the immediate area for property to purchase.
Beith said they need to think ahead too in planning with the casino coming and ridership increases, regarding buses and staffing.
“We’re going to think big,” Beith said.
Other funding DMT has received has been through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“We used a lot of CARES money to pay for operating expenses to offset not collecting fares,” Beith said.
Fares total upwards of $100,000 every quarter.
“That’s such a vital part of our operating money,” Beith said, adding especially with those Champaign fares.
DMT began bus fare suspension in March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Starting in January, they will begin collecting bus fares again.
She’s said it’s been nice to not collect fares, in a couple ways, for most of the year. It’s helped limit personal contact between riders and drivers, and it’s helped people who may have lost a job or needed free transportation to places.
Ridership has been down about 6 percent from last year.
“That’s not huge,” Beith said, adding that people are riding again.