DART First State wants your thoughts on future of mass transit in state

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Delaware Transit Corporation (DART First State) has moved into the next phase of a year-long, statewide study, “DART Reimagined: Reshaping DART Transit Services to Meet the Needs of Today and Beyond,” to identify opportunities to reconfigure the bus network.

The study aims to provide a more sustainable and equitable transit system for all Delawareans. The goal is to collaborate with riders, the public, municipalities, businesses, state agencies, and other key stakeholders to garner input on existing DART services and to help identify future goals for system improvements that meet rider needs, a release stated.

The DART Reimagined project team is actively evaluating the current system and would like to encourage current and future customers to take a digital survey which is open through Friday, April 21. Survey insights will help DART better understand the challenges and opportunities of existing transit access, and how connections across the state may be improved to accommodate current and future rider needs. The survey can be accessed at www.DARTReimagined.com and should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Participants can choose to be entered into a drawing for a free Seven-Day Pass, with 10 entries being selected.

“Customer feedback is critical in helping us shape the future of public transportation in Delaware,” said Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski. “We want to hear from as many people across the state as possible during this process, and every response is greatly appreciated.” 

The study kicked off earlier this year with the project team identifying an Executive Advisory Committee (EAC), that meets bi-monthly, as well as four Technical Advisory Committees (TACs), one representing each county and the City of Wilmington, that meet quarterly. The groups represent a wide range of expertise across the state, including municipalities, government organizations, Hispanic and Latino community leaders, transit advocates, disabilities and elderly community organizations, universities, businesses, metropolitan planning organizations, and more.

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“We’re grateful for the enthusiastic engagement of our EAC and TACs. Acting as ambassadors, the members play an integral role in garnering input from their community, customers, constituents, students, neighbors, and employees,” said John Sisson, CEO of of Delaware Transit Corporation. “This data is paramount in helping us understand the transportation needs of our current and future riders.”

This summer, DART will be conducting Community Workshops throughout the state for additional customer and stakeholder engagement. More information on DART Reimagined and the project progress and timeline can be obtained from  www.DARTReimagined.com.

The Delaware Transit Corporation, a subsidiary of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), operates DART First State.

DART has faced its share of challenges in recent years that include massive losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, public transit systems nationwide have struggled to get riders back due to factors that include employees working from home and labor shortages that resulted in fewer passengers.

Prior to Covid-19, DART First State was the target of rider criticism with a reconfiguration of routes after moving its Wilmington hub from Rodney Square to a new transit center near the train station. Critics claimed the change forced riders, many elderly, to walk blocks to the nearest bus.

Transit systems throughout the nation are assessing their future. The massive SEPTA transit system is also undergoing a major study of its routes. Delaware subsidizes SEPTA train service to and from Wilmington, Claymont, and Newark.

DART is rolling out an Uber-Lyft style on-demand transit service that would charge a couple of dollars per trip, the Newark Post reported. Newark is phasing out its free Unicity service, which had seen a dwindling number of riders.

Prior to the pandemic, DART was carrying about 25,000 passengers a day.

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