DART to phase out part of Newark route
— Newarkers who board the DART bus north of the Newark Municipal Building will have to adjust their schedules starting Monday, as officials are looking to phase out that part of the route by the end of summer.
According to Julie Theyerl, DART marketing and public affairs officer, DART’s Route 16, called “Newark Express,” picks up riders along Stamford Drive, Cambridge Drive, New London Road, Country Club Drive, Casho Mill Road, Lafayette Road, Dallam Road and Apple Road before stopping at the municipal building on South Main Street and eventually heading to downtown Wilmington.
She said buses make 13 trips to and from the area north of the Newark Municipal Building, but average only 22 total riders a day.
“There has been historically low ridership on that segment,” Theyerl said. “In terms of operational efficiency, it just doesn’t make sense to continue that.”
Starting Monday, DART will discontinue that part of Route 16, meaning buses will start at the Newark Transit Hub, instead of in the Fairfield neighborhood, before heading to the municipal building, the Newark Train Station, the Park & Ride on South College Avenue and eventually to Wilmington.
However, until Sept. 2, riders who depend on the northern section of the route will be able to hop on a special shuttle called the “16 Connect” that will connect them to the Route 16 stop at the municipal building.
In the morning, Theyerl said, the shuttle will leave the Fairfield Shopping Center at 6:47 a.m. and 7:27 a.m. to take riders to the munici-
pal building, where they will change over to the Route 16 bus to Wilmington.
“People can get on at any of the stops along that route,” she said.
In the evening, the shuttle will pick up riders at the municipal building after the Route 16 bus from Wilmington drops them off at 5:02 p.m. and 5:42 p.m. and bring them back to the Fairfield Shopping Center.
Rep. Paul Baumbach said the shuttle is a temporary solution for the summer while the city figures out how to fill the gap.
“That buys us some time,” Baumbach said, adding that DART offered the shuttle service during a meeting with city officials earlier this month. “There was no arm twisting. DART just left it at that, and I think that was really appreciated by the city.”
Officials are currently exploring a federal grant program to help with the cost of adding the stops to the UNICITY bus system, which is a free ride service provide by the city and the University of Delaware with funding assistance from the state.
Baumbach said the city should know the outcome of the grant application within a few weeks. If the application is denied, the next option is to bring the idea to council and see if there is money in the budget.
City Manager Carol Houck said there are only three UNICITY buses and one is used as a backup, so she is unsure of the cost of adding extra stops and whether that means hiring more drivers or re-evaluating current routes.
Still, she said, the city feels it is important to look into.
“We don’t want to reduce the amount of public transit,” Houck said. “We want to continue to accommodate people who are using it in that area of the city.”