Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Hoping to boost ridership, Harrisburg seeks input on public bus routes.

Delta Development Group associate Rebecca Burk speaks with a member of the public at Strawberry Square on Jan. 22. The city will hold its second public meeting for the bus stop optimization study from 4:00 – 6:00 pm today at the Harrisburg Transportation Center.

Whether you ride public buses every day or avoid them like the plague, Harrisburg wants to hear from you.

In partnership with Capital Area Transit (CAT), the city is seeking public input to guide an ongoing bus stop optimization study. According to city Engineer Wayne Martin, the study will help city planners determine where to consolidate existing bus stops and establish new ones, with the ultimate goal of increasing public transit use in the city.

“We want public transit to have a bigger share of transportation in the city,” Martin said. “We need to get our ridership numbers up.”

The study’s public outreach phase kicked off this morning with an open house meeting at Strawberry Square. A second meeting will be held at the Harrisburg Transportation Center at 4 p.m. today, where residents can speak with project managers and review transit maps and data.

Residents who cannot attend the meetings can complete online surveys until Feb. 9.

Martin said that you don’t need to be a frequent CAT rider to contribute valuable input to the study.

“If people don’t take the bus, we want to know why they don’t and what it would take to get them to,” Martin said.

The study targets routes on six corridors in Harrisburg—3rd Street, Herr Street, Derry Street, Market Street and 6th and 7th streets. Martin said that these routes were chosen because they are major transportation corridors or the sites of pending development projects. The 6th and 7th street corridor will be the site of the future federal court house, for instance, and the city recently began a major repaving project on 3rd street.

Martin said that some of these routes, such as the one that runs along 3rd street, have too many stops. He said that consolidating stops would shorten trips and make bus service more reliable.

The city also hopes that increasing bus ridership will improve its traffic flow. Martin noted that streamlining bus routes will make city roads suitable for new transit technologies, such as stop lights that sync with buses to time red and green lights. He said that these devices can accelerate bus trips and reduce traffic congestion.

The city has commissioned Mechanicsburg-based consulting firm Delta Development Group to lead the study. After the public input period concludes on Feb. 9, Delta will analyze the data and develop recommendations for the city’s routes, said Rebecca Burk, associate at DDG.

Since Delta launched the study in summer 2017, its associates have taken an inventory of local bus amenities, conducted field work at bus stops and studied best practices of urban transportation, Burk said. She could not say when their report would be complete.

Martin added that the final draft report will be open to public comment before CAT alters any bus routes.

Complete an online survey through Feb 9. by visiting http://bit.ly/harrisburg2018.

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