The is considering terminating their current Park and Ride agreement with Pace and implementing the services of Kendall Area Transit (KAT) for both park and ride features as well as Dial-a-Ride.
Village Administrator Steve Jones said the current proposal from Pace for 2013 includes their continued service of 3 rides in both morning and afternoon from the Orchard Road Park and Ride to the Aurora Transportation Center. The cost is $106,000 and Jones said that, factoring in the estimated revenue, the net cost to the village would be $95,000.
KAT has proposed a multi-year agreement for service of 5 rides in both the morning and afternoon. The three year agreement, including estimated revenue, would average out to a net cost of $84,000 to the village.
“We’re counting on a ridership increase with KAT,” said Jones. “With commuters, time makes a difference and by adding two new routes we’ll be able to offer more options.”
The second component with the KAT agreement is the Dial-a-Ride service. Currently, the service is available for limited medical needs and was supported by a grant. Jones said with adding the service to all areas of Oswego it would become a community bus service.
One of the largest negatives of switching from Pace to KAT is that Pace passes worked on any Pace buses and has the ability to buy a linked pass with the CTA. KAT would offer no such reciprocity.
“We’re optimistic the convenience and the additional rides will be received well,” said Jones.
Trustee Terry Michels was concerned though about the small amount of ridership as documented over the past few years of the Park and Ride facility and the cost to the Village.
“I’m concerned with the small number of people we’re pulling these resources for for this service. I’m all in favor of public transportation services, but this gets you to one location, the Aurora train station, and that’s it.”
“These are our tax dollars that are supporting this,” Michels continued. “Is this really a good use of our money?”
Trustee Scott Volpe said the ridership was also a concern to him, as the numbers had never been very clear. Surveys had been done by both Pace and the community and the results were very different.
According to village documents, for the 2012 year up until May the average ridership for one-way weekday rides is about 46 individuals. A traffic count back in 2010 determined that about 30 percent of the cars in the Park and Ride lot belonged to Oswego residents.
“What number would justify the service?” asked Trustee Gail Johnson. “If it is 1,000, this conversation is already over.”
Village Board President Brian LeClercq said some writers had dropped the service because of the lack of routes. Offering more could bring some back.
The Park and Ride and Dial-a-Ride services Michels iterated were separate components. The contract with KAT would require the Dial-a-Ride service, but the Park and Ride would be negotiable. “I am very comfortable with the Dial-a-Ride and its fees,” said Michels.
“I’m pleased our community will be able to use the Dial-a-Ride service,” said Johnson. The service would have first priority for medical users, but would be available to all of the community, from trips to the senior center to someone needing to get the grocery store. Fees would exist for riders depending on their trip and destination.
The board will vote on at the September 18 meeting on the Pace contract, the Dial-a-Ride service and the KAT agreement with Park and Ride.