New seasonal route will take riders to Veterans Park

MACOMB — A new seasonal bus route that would take riders to Veterans Park was announced at last week's meeting of the city's McDonough County Public Transportation Committee.
Transit Director Nathan Cobb said the Macomb Park District is helping to fund the route and that it will be given a trial period through October.
Ketra Russell, supervisor of Western Illinois University's Go West bus system, said the route will run Monday through Saturday afternoons, four times a day. She said the route needs an average of 32 riders per hour to be considered successful. If numbers are promising, she said the route will run from April through October each year.
Cobb said there are students in WIU's Recreation, Park, and Tourism Administration program who would ride the bus on a regular basis to access the exercise equipment and hiking and running opportunities at Veterans Park. He said students may want to come out to the Flatland Summer Jam at the park at the end of this month.
In other business, Russell reported that four more bus drivers are needed for Go West. She said Durham Transportation is offering a $1,000 signing bonus for drivers, $2,000 if the person already has a commercial driver's license. Once training is completed, bus drivers will be paid $12 per hour.
Russell said Anthony Reaid is the new Durham general manager, with 25 years of experience. Durham provides bus service for WIU and for the Macomb School District.
Cobb said the MCPT operations contract for WIU buses and for demand response van service is up for bid. with an August 21 application deadline. He said a new bus will be received next week that had been used by the city of Quincy. Cobb said Macomb plans to use state grant money to buy four new buses and has applied for federal funding to buy two more.
The transit director said revenue exceeded expenses in Fiscal Year 2018, with $350,000 added to fund reserves. MCPT used $2.3 million of its $2.7 million budget.
Cobb said FY 18 ridership was down 20 percent, with a cumulative total of one million people riding the buses and 20,000 using the demand response vans. He said ride requests have picked up over the summer and a few more drivers were hired.
More transportation services may be provided to Bridgeway, Cobb said. He said MCPT's peak transit year was 2012, when a cumulative total of 2 million people rode the vans and buses.
Cumulative van ridership in July was 1,898 with a 976 majority being senior citizens. Total bus ridership was 15,877 with the most popular routes being in the northeast and northwest portions of Macomb.
The demand response van service provided 39 rides for out of town non-emergency medical appointments. Cobb said fees paid totaled $380, reflecting ten percent of the cost of service. He said 10 trips were made to Quincy, eight to Peoria, six apiece to Galesburg and Springfield, two apiece to Iowa City, Stronghurst, and Carthage, and one ride apiece to Canton, Rushville, and Oquawka.
Members celebrated the service of Macomb Alderman Mellie Gilbert on the committee. She is retiring from the city council at the end of the month. Mayor Mike Inman said he has received 12 applications from people interested in serving the remainder of Gilbert's term.

Reach Patrick Stout by email at pstout@mcdonoughvoice.com