The quest to bring back the Rodney Square bus hub

Photo courtesy of WHYY

Good morning,

You have to give credit for the persistence of the Coalition to Return Bus Service to Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington.

It has been eight months since the DART  hub that featured noxious diesel fumes from idling buses and awkward boarding options at rush periods was largely dismantled along the square. 

The coalition, apparently led by longtime civic activist John Flaherty and mass transit advocate Scott Spencer,  managed to gather more than 2,000 signatures on a petition. It calls for a restoration of the hub until a new transit center is built near the train station.

WDEL  reported   the group held a media event last week and presented the petitions to the governor’s communications chief and demand a meeting with developer Robert Buccini.

Spencer and Flaherty have used every trick in the book to keep the effort going, including demands for Emails relating to the matter that involved Gov. John Carney and the corporate community.

Thanks to Delaware ’s rather toothless freedom of information laws, the request was denied.

Race and class also became a focus, since many of the riders are people of color with low to moderate incomes.

After years of inaction, Carney moved the ball forward as concerns grew that the hub was a big drawback in efforts to bring jobs to downtown and imperiled work to keep the Chemours headquarters in the city.

Carney is correct when he notes that the hub came about in a haphazard fashion. DART First State simply took the easy way out as travel patterns changed over the years.

As technology moved forward that eases the quest for information on your bus, Rodney Square was stuck in the phone booth era.

Meanwhile, conversations with the commercial real estate community bear out the point that the hub was a big problem. And it does not take a lot of googling to find out the hub was the site of a troubling homicide of a good Samaritan a few years back.

As the controversy continued, a few DART  routes were restored as stories surfaced of people with disabilities struggling to walk some distance to their stop.

The conversation should continue, and alternatives are needed,  but the current effort to revive the hub is only making it harder to bring jobs to a downtown with an office vacancy rate that is too far into the double digits.

A final note. In April, Spencer requested a meeting after a critical piece in this space.

 After a little back and forth, I suggested an opinion piece. He did not respond to that request, which remains on the table. – Doug Rainey, publisher.

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