Oswego village trustees voted 4-2 Tuesday night to authorize the execution of contracts for both Park and Ride transportation and Dial-a-Ride services through Kendall Area Transit (KAT).
Previously the village had used Pace Suburban Bus services to offer three round-trip rides to the Aurora Transportation Center from the Oswego Park and Ride on Orchard Road for $106,000 a year, said Village Administrator Steve Jones. The new agreement with KAT will offer five round-trip rides for around $84,000 a year.
Trusteed debated two weeks ago whether the village should just offer Dial-a-Ride services instead of Dial-a-Ride and Park and Ride. Thrown into the debate is Oswego's quest for a Metra stop.
Jones said he met with Metra officials last week and they have announced they are moving forward with phase one of their study for an Oswego stop. The study will be complete in 18 to 24 months, focusing on both preliminary design – like where bridges, platforms might go – to looking at the funding and ridership.
Village President Brian LeClercq said when the village informed Metra that it may discontinue Park and Ride, officials said such a decision would be detrimental to the village's future plans for a train station.
Trustee Terry Michels said that while he understood Metra’s position, “From a financial standpoint [Metra] would not operate a train to a community that was not profitable to them or does not have growth. We’re years off to getting [a train station]. The dollars we’re spending for a select group of individuals to get to a specified destination doesn’t benefit the community as a whole.”
LeClercq disagreed, saying Metra could be used for a variety of purposes, not just getting to work.
“I think [the park and ride] is a precursor to a full-fledged Metra and ties into our strategic plan," he said.
Michels said the Park and Ride services is not real public transportation, as the only destination is the Aurora Train Station.
“How does it benefit someone who wants to get to their doctor on Route 30?” he asked.
Trustee Tony Giles also questioned the amount of ridership as a factor in voting against the plan.
“We’d be spending $84,000 for about 25 Oswego riders per day. Is that really serving the public?" he asked.
The Park and Ride was originally supported by government grants that allowed for six round trips a day through Pace. When the grants ran out the village dropped rides to three, which LeClercq said may have contributed to the sudden drop in ridership. At its height, about 140 riders per day used the service.
Trustees Jeff Lawson, Scott Volpe, Gail Johnson and Judy Sollinger all voted yes with Giles and Michels voting no.