Cart service poised to operate in Market Street corridor in Wilmington

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The launch of a fare-driven golf cart taxi service for the Market Street area in downtown is expected in the near future as a way to put a small dent in the issue of getting around downtown.

TownSquare Delaware reports the service came about after Buccini/Pollin Group co-president Chris Buccini saw the service in action in Nashville, TN.

Nashville is not alone in using the large carts that have long been used to shuttle people around large corporate campuses or sprawling resorts. In other cases, the carts have long been allowed on public streets in some retirement communities, such as the Sun City developments.

Thanks to some law changes, communities and states now allow the carts in low-speed settings. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for example, changed its statutes to allow for the carts.

Other cities are offering powered scooter rentals that have produced a backlash from residents and upset pedestrians.

TownSquare reported that two University of Delaware students, working with the UD Horn Center for Entrepreneurship, developed the business model that will include a smart device app to book a trip and signing up advertising sponsors. Fares will range between $3 to $5.

Getting around within Wilmington’s sprawling downtown area has been a long-running issue, especially as redevelopment spread to the lower area of Market Street (LOMA) and the riverfront, which remains a challenge for both pedestriansand bus riders.

A downtown wheeled trolley operated for a time but was dropped, due to poor ridership and according to some critics the difficulty DART has in operating specialty routes while navigating a myriad of federal and other regulations.

There have been a few calls to revive some sort of circulator service that is part of transit systems in many cities. Newark, for example, has a Unicitysystem in partnership with the University of Delaware, which also operates its own student transit system.

Unicity also receives state support, an approach that might have some applicability for Wilmington. DART also has a transit hub in Newark.

Like Wilmington, Newark dropped a wheeled trolley service after a short run.

More recently, DART, Chris Buccini’s Buccini/Pollin Group, the biggest developer in downtown, and state officials have been under fire for moving a transit hub from Rodney Square.

The change, aimed at reducing rush hour crowding, diesel fumes, buses with nowhere to conveniently park and other issues left some riders making long walks to connecting buses without shelters at those stops.

The Rodney Square hub that was carved out of park setting also lacked shelters, signage that updates arrival status, and other modern features of bus hubs. Some route changes were made in response to rider complaints.

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