Study will assess service gaps in the county’s transportation network
Will County announced today that it will receive a $ 200,000 grant from Pace Suburban Bus (Pace) to assess paratransit services in the county and identify future improvements. Pace announced the funding on October 21st Will County Council meeting.
“This is a major step in identifying solutions to our transportation challenges and providing more reliable paratransit options for those who need it most,” said Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Director of County of Will. “We are grateful for Pace’s support in strengthening our county-wide paratransit network. “
The study will assess existing paratransit services in the county, identify gaps in services relative to community needs, and recommend system-wide improvements. The overall goal is to develop a sustainable and achievable plan to improve mobility options in Will County for targeted user groups, such as the elderly, people with disabilities and low income people.
“Pace’s mission is to provide safe and reliable public transportation in our region, but it is not the same in all communities,” said Pace President Rick Kwasneski. “We serve a diverse landscape and traditional bus service is not always the answer. These funds will support the exploration of alternative transportation solutions that meet the needs of residents of Will County. “
The existing paratransit network includes a variety of services, including through Pace, Will County Dial-A-Ride, and several local governments and non-profit organizations. Unlike a traditional bus service, which operates on a published and fixed route, paratransit services provide a flexible on-demand service that responds to the travel demands of riders within a specific service area. These services are often intended for people with reduced mobility who prevent them from accessing the regular bus service or live outside an area served by a regular bus service, such as a rural area.
“Paratransit services are a vital resource for many residents of Will County, especially those with mobility challenges or those who live in more rural areas,” said Will County Council Chairperson, Mimi Cowan. “The results of this study will bring us one step closer to providing a consistent and reliable transportation option to residents across the county. “
Due to the size of the Will County area, existing paratransit networks have faced several challenges over the years. Although the county has several paratransit services, not all services work when residents need them, provide services where residents want to go, or are not designed for the populations who depend on them the most. Additionally, services often do not allow residents to travel to places outside the county, such as job opportunities, medical appointments, or social gatherings.
“Public transit is a key part of economic development, especially when it comes to getting workers into employment,” said Mike Fricilone, County Council Minority Leader. “The key to any successful transit program is sustainable funding. Hopefully this study will give Will County some ideas on how we can build on the previous success of paratransit and guide us towards future improvements. “
“As a representative of both a suburban and a rural district, I know the importance of public transportation and the ability to get to a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store,” said the president. of Public Works, Joe Van Duyne. “Having an up-to-date information base on available services with suggestions for future improvements will be invaluable in moving forward proactively. “
Pace’s announcement came as Pace outlined details of his 2022 budget proposal and how his regional service expansion will benefit Will County.