RMTD users question more than new routes

The Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD) public hearing last Thursday morning brought up numerous concerns not only about the proposed changes, but about basic service as well.

About 25 people attended the morning session at Ken-Rock Community Center and voiced concerns that have not been brought up in previous meetings, said Lisa Brown, marketing and public relations director for RMTD.

“Today there was a lot more concern about bench and shelter placements and that hasn’t come up before. That was good feedback,” Brown said.

Several people questioned the Charles Street route, which under the proposed changes would eliminate service to 9th Avenue, and the area of Alpine that is south of Harrison. An 89-year-old woman opposed the change and said she takes the 9th Avenue bus every day. Without it, she said she’d have to walk six or seven blocks to Charles Street.

Brown also introduced people to the proposed “Big Loop” route, which she said is what the staff is most excited about. According to the proposal, “Big Loop” would operate as a major cross-town loop serving the west, north, east and southeast of Rockford. The bus would travel north on Rockton, east on Riverside, south on Mulford and into Rock Valley College serving both stops, west on Spring Creek, south on Mulford, west on Strathmoor to St. Anthony’s, south on Roxbury, east on State Street, south on Mulford, west on Newburg to Colonial Village, west on Broad way, south on Kishwaukee, west on 15th, north on Main, west on Michigan, north on West, east on Montague, north on Winnebago and then to the Transfer Center. The new route would absorb the existing Kenmore route, portions of Loves Park, Greenwood and the entire existing Broadway route.

“The ‘Big Loop’ concept, which is new, seems to be something people are very concerned about when we first talked about it because it covers such an expansive area,” Brown said. “But when they stop and think about it and go over it a couple of times, I think they are liking it and can see how it will really make things flow a lot easier.”

Brown was pleased with the feedback she received and said having meetings in many locations gives the staff a different perspective.

Brown said, “Last time people were very concerned about the Kenmore route, today we’re hearing concerns about the Charles Street route, 11th Street and 7th Street. It’s probably because of the area, so our strategy is working.”

Brown said after all of the public hearings are complete and all of the questions, concerns and suggestions are processed, a core team of four staff members will make the final recommendations. Brown added she would like to see the new schedules done by Thanksgiving, giving the RMTD staff six weeks to train and educate riders and drivers about the changes. Proposed changes will not go into effect until January 2004.

The next public hearing will be Aug. 20 at the Rockton Library Branch at 10 a.m. and on Aug. 26 at the RMTD Transfer Center at 5 p.m. For more information, call RMTD at 961-9000.

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