Van Buren Residents To See Public Transportation Survey
By John Lovvett Tiems Record • Jlovett@swtimes.com
March 8, 2014 - 4:25ams
At least 8,500 Van Buren households will receive a public transportation survey in utility bills that go out Monday. Van Buren residents are being asked for feedback on public transportation needs between Fort Smith and Van Buren. Residents may complete the short survey on the postcard and drop it in the mailbox, or take a survey online at www.frontiermpo.org. The survey card does not require participants to affix return postage. “It’s the best way to hit the most amount of people without having to spend an insane amount of money,” said Dianne Morrison, director of the Frontier Metropolitan Planning Organization. The cards are rated as Qualified Business Reply Mail and the 39 cents per return card only has to be paid for by the MPO for those that are mailed back.
A feasibility survey last fall in Fort Smith indicated that 93 percent of the public transportation riders would utilize transit service to commute to and/or from Van Buren if service was provided, a news release states. The 2013 feasibility study was the result of an on-board rider survey on each of the five fixed routes in the city of Fort Smith, as well as “demand response passengers” and the downtown trolley service. In an effort to bring about the expanded service, the Frontier Metropolitan Planning Organization, Fort Smith Transit and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department are working together, and seek additional information about how citizens might utilize an expanded public transit platform.
“Public input is an integral part of long-range planning and a key element in the data collection phase of this study prior to researching funding opportunities and corridor studies,” the release states. End.
Fort Smith Transit Department Breaks Ridership Record
Posted March 1, 2014 - 5:05am
Fort Smith’s Transit Department had its busiest year yet in 2013, according to a report released Friday. The year-end report noted 215,591 passenger trips, which is 9,262, or 4.5 percent, more than in 2012. Last year’s ridership was also higher than the previous best year, 2008. “In 2008, we were at 208,600,” Transit Director Ken Savage said. “That was our highest to this point, and now we’re at 215,591. We’re excited. I think it’s going to grow even more. I’ve been driving up and down these streets and I’m seeing more and more people at the bus stop signs.” Although the city offers several different services, the additional passengers are for the most part using the standard, fixed-rate service. “That’s OK because the majority of workforce is during the day,” Savage said. “Certainly, our lower operating costs are on the fixed route. So anything we can gain from that is great.” By mid-year, ridership was up more than 6 percent over 2012. “It fell down in the last few months,” Savage said. “It’s not just snow. Even when it just gets cold and nasty we lose ridership.”
In December, the Fort Smith Board of Directors approved a rate-increase request from the Transit Advisory Commission of $1 to $1.25 per trip for fixed-route service. Rates outside the fixed route during normal operating hours rose from $2 to $2.50 per trip, while a rate for the additional service before or after hours was set at $3. The new rates kicked in Jan. 6. Ridership for the month was 14,500-plus, Savage said. “It doesn’t appear to be deterring ridership,” he said. “It looks like we’re still holding strong.” This year’s goal is to replace at least two buses in the department’s 17-vehicle fleet. Also planned is a conversion of two more vehicles to compressed natural gas for a total of three. The transit system receives 3 percent, or about $450,000, of Fort Smith’s portion of a 1 percent Sebastian County sales tax. Those local funds qualify the city for more than $2 million in state and federal grants, according to city officials. An additional $30,000 is expected annually from the rate increases. The transit service began in June 1996. End.
FORT SMITH TRANSIT
Fort Smith Transit provides transportation open to the general public within the city limits of Fort Smith. Our organization performs fixed route and curb-to-curb transportation services as well as a limited charter service by advance request. The Fixed Route Service consists of a network of buses that travel the major avenues and some residential areas within the city. All fixed route buses are equipped with lifts for mobility devices and most routes traverse toward the downtown area once per hour to accommodate transfers as needed.
Demand Response (curb-to-curb) buses are available for passengers with mobility challenges that prevent access to the fixed routes or for passengers traveling to or from destinations considered outside the fixed route network area. Transit staff are well trained and can assist you with navigating the routes, selecting optimum travel times, purchasing vouchers, or simply learning to position a mobility device on a lift or inside the bus.
HOURS OF OPERATION
Fixed Routes: Monday - Saturday, 7AM - 6PM
Demand Response: Monday - Friday 5:30PM - 10:30PM; Saturday 7AM to 7PM Base Fare: Fixed Route $1.25 | Demand Response $2.50
6821 Jenny Lind Rd.
P.O. Box 1908
Fort Smith, AR 72902
Phone: (479) 783-6464
Toll Free: (877) 335-9555