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.”

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