Doylestown Bus Service to Continue Through January
Thursday was to have been the service's last day, but a reprieve came at the last minute.
Doylestown bus riders have at least another month before they need to find another way to get around.
Today was to have been the last day of service for the Doylestown rushbus, which runs Monday through Friday.
A last-minute collaboration between Bucks County, Doylestown and the state will keep the bus on the road through the end of January, officials announced Thursday. The three entities will contribute money to keep the bus running its regular route and schedule through then.
"The goal is to keep the Rushbus operating for the residents who use it to reach their destinations, regardless of whether they are doctor's appointments, other professional services or even shopping," Bucks County Commissioners Chairman Charles H. Martin said in a statment. "We realize that many residents rely on the Rushbus, particularly our senior citizens."
On Dec. 20, officials announced that Doylestown's rushbus service would end with the ending of the year.
It had been funded through federal transportation money aimed at helping urban people get to jobs in the suburbs. But the Doylestown rushbus route did not rank highly enough to qualify for that funding for the 2011 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. Bucks County and SEPTA filled the gap, prolonging service through the end of 2010.
Representatives from the county and the borough met Wednesday with state legislators Sen. Chuck McIlhinney and Rep. Marguerite Quinn and with Bucks County Transport to discuss the future of the rushbus.
"Libby and I went there with little expectation that anything could be done, but there was a lot of good, creative thinking that came out of it," said Lou White, a Doylestown Borough council member who attended the meeting with his wife, Libby White, Doylestown's mayor.
Continuing the bus route through January is likely to cost about $15,000, White said.
Officials will use that time to survey riders about the days, times and destinations they value most, said Joe Funk, the director of health and human services for Bucks County.
"The original purpose of the route was work-related, to get people from the train stations and other public transportation to jobs in town," Funk said Thursday. "Over the years, its role in Doylestown has kind of changed, and other people, including lots of seniors, use it, now."
The county's Area Agency on Aging received many phone calls from Doylestown seniors who depend on the bus to get to work, to doctors' appointments and to go shopping, Funk said. Libby White received similar calls, her husband said.
Officials will use the feedback from bus riders and drivers to decide whether to continue to fund the service, and, if so, to shape new routes and timetables.
"The goal is to try to get $100,000 in the coming year to finance at least one bus," White said. "If we can't run the full service, we want to know what days of the week and what times are most important to the people who use it, so we have some picture of what the use is."
Funk said officials will continue to look for ways to pay for the bus service.
One idea is to ask organizations like Delaware Valley College and Doylestown Hospital to chip in, he said, adding that both used to help pay for the bus before the transportation management agency stepped in.
Another idea, White said, is to find advertisers to help offset the cost of running the bus.
Officials plan to meet again in three weeks to review feedback from bus riders and drivers and further discuss ways to pay for the service.