StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116724674622391.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.cherryvalley.org’, ‘Rockford Mass Transit District is planning to start bus service to CherryVale Mall within the coming month.’);
Rockford Mass Transit District will be providing fixed route and paratransit bus service to CherryVale Mall within the next 30 days. District officials have been working on finalizing a route and informational materials for service to CherryVale. District officials met with CherryVale Mall Dec. 14 to finalize details. Service to the mall will be offered Monday through Sunday as part of the regular RMTD route system. Passengers may access the mall via the East State Street route service during daytime hours, Monday through Sunday, and by the Perryville/Alpine route at night, Monday through Friday. In providing service to CherryVale Mall, RMTD is fulfilling the No. 1 requested need for service by its passengers and the community. Rockford Paratransit service to the mall is also now available for paratransit riders not able to access the fixed route system.
Mass Transit service to the all is being paid for through the federally-funded Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) grant. JARC provides funding to transit properties for new transportation initiatives. This grant, as part of the recently authorized Transportation Act, has allotted Rockford $111,425 and is being used to pay for part of the initial CherryVale service during the next 12 months. The total cost of service to CherryVale is approximately $265,428. The State of Illinois is offsetting 55 percent of this cost, or $145,985.40 as part of its operating subsidy to the District. The remaining $8,017 is expected to be recouped via the farebox revenues.
The JARC grant provides dollars to transit new start programs that will enable greater access to employment through mass transit. In March 2005, a coalition of employers, citizens and community leaders identified four areas in northern Illinois where employment opportunities existed, but transportation services for the transit-dependent did not. CherryVale Mall was the No. 1 location on this list. CherryVale Mall and the immediate area surrounding the mall offer a highly concentrated area of retail, food service and hospitality entities where transit riders could seek employment if reliable service were offered. The District also anticipates Park District employees utilizing this service to summer jobs at Magic Waters.
Through the JARC grant, RMTD will now be able to offer services to CherryVale Mall starting as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 10:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Service to the Mall will run from 7 a.m. through 6 p.m., Saturdays and from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Sundays. Passengers are encouraged to contact the District at 961-9000 or visit the RMTD Web site at www.rmtd.org to obtain specific times relevant to their individual needs.
Service to the Mall has been a long time coming, said RMTD Executive Director Richard W. McVinnie. The District is pleased to be able to add yet another service option that will truly impact our passengers quality of life. We hope to announce a start date within the next two weeks, and have mall service start shortly thereafter.
Without alternative transportation options other than the automobile, many citizens are left with few employment opportunities. This grant funding for bus service to CherryVale Mall gives Rockford-area citizens an affordable transportation option and better access to jobs, said Mayor Larry Morrissey.
Service will start within the next 30 days and will be monitored closely for impact and effectiveness. After JARC funding has diminished, RMTD will have to determine a funding stream to continue the service. Several options, including a zone fare and/or community subsidies, will be analyzed. The District never likes to put service out on trial basis, said McVinnie. We know that once service is offered, our passengers come to rely on that service as part of their day-to-day routine, which includes access to employment. RMTD will, therefore, aggressively look for ways to keep the service running after the initial JARC funding stream has been depleted.
RMTD provides more than 1.5 million rides each year. The District has a fleet of 64 fixed route and paratransit vehicles and offers 18 hours of service Mondays through Fridays, 13 hours of service Saturdays, and eight hours Sundays. Rockford Mass Transit also provides service to Loves Park and Machesney Park.
From the Dec. 27 2006-Jan. 2, 2007, issue