NEWS FROM: THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, DART FIRST STATE, AND THE DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL
Contact: Julie Theyerl, DART First State, 302-576-6005
Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
Public Transit Service Restored to Delaware City: DNREC grant helps restore DART bus service after more than 40 year absence
(DELAWARE CITY, July 18, 2011) – Today, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), DART First State and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) announced public transit service to Delaware City, the first scheduled bus service to the city in four decades. The one-year pilot service is made possible through a grant from DNREC’s Community Environmental Project Fund that invests in projects to improve communities that have been affected by environmental violations.
Delaware Transit Executive Director Stephen Kingsberry and DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara were joined by Delaware City Mayor John Buchheit, Delaware Representative Valerie Longhurst (15th District), Main Street Program Manager Mark Chura, and city merchants and residents who applauded the bus route extension to the City.
“We are happy to partner with DNREC to secure these funds and make this service a reality,” said Delaware Transit Executive Director Stephen Kingsberry. “We are excited about serving the residents and businesses of Delaware City with this long-awaited public transit service. Welcome back, Delaware City!”
Without bus service to Delaware City residents have relied on cars more than the average New Castle County resident. According to the Delaware City Transportation Plan issued by the Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMAPCO) in 2009, 64 percent of city residents cited the lack of public transit as their top transportation-related concern. WILMAPCO’s plan concluded that introducing transit service to Delaware City will provide a much needed alternative to car travel, enhance social equity, improve regional transit interconnectivity, lessen traffic congestion and improve air quality.
“Bus service is a win-win-win for the environment, economy and the residents of Delaware City,” said Secretary O’Mara. “Not only does it improve access to job opportunities, both in and outside the city, but the service increases tourism and out-of-town visitors, benefiting city businesses and strengthening the economy. Riding the bus is one of the most cost effective ways to improve air quality, by reducing vehicle emissions that can be harmful to public health.”
Transportation fuels account for more than 50 percent of Delaware’s overall air emissions and a significant portion of our state’s air pollution. Nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons from vehicle emissions are hazardous air pollutants that contribute to ground level ozone and can cause serious respiratory conditions that contribute to heart disease and cancer. Reducing vehicle miles traveled on our roadways translates to less auto emissions and a healthier Delaware.
The Delaware City bus route extension was recommended for project funding to DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara by Delaware’s Community Involvement Advisory Council, an 11-member committee appointed by Governor Markell. Funding comes from DNREC’s Community Environmental Project Fund that includes penalty monies collected from companies that have violated the state’s environmental protection laws. Funds support projects in affected communities that repair environmental damage and reduce risks to public health. Over the past seven years, the Fund has invested almost $2 million in projects throughout the state.
Delaware Representative Valerie Longhurst has been instrumental in keeping funds generated through environmental violations within impacted communities. “It is imperative that we fund programs that reduce pollution in those areas affected by environmental violations,” said Representative Longhurst. “Delaware City is the ideal location to encourage public transportation as a means for improving air quality, and I’m so pleased that Community Environmental Project Funds could make the extension of the bus route possible.”
Mayor John Buchheit said, “The residents and merchants of Delaware City are very excited about the new bus service for a number of reasons. First, is the option it gives our residents to use public transportation to commute to work, and of course, the positive impact this has on our environment by eliminating cars from our highways. The merchants are excited about the opportunity this provides residents in other parts of New Castle County, that have no transportation, by giving them a means to visit the great attractions, shops and restaurants in our great City.”
Beginning today, July 18, the existing Route 25 is extending all of its 26 weekday trips to Delaware City. The pilot service will travel along Route 9 to Clinton Street to Canal Road, ending at the existing parking area located on Washington Street. On the return route, service will include Washington Street to Route 9 to the Tybouts Corner Park & Ride, then resume service to Wilmington. The bus route operates weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
The Delaware Transit Corporation, a subsidiary of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), operates DART First State. DART First State services include intercounty, fixed route and seasonal bus, Paratransit, contracted SEPTA commuter trains, Operation Lifesaver rail crossing safety program, and RideShare Delaware ridematching program. For information on fixed route services statewide, please call 1-800-652-DART. Paratransit reservations and GoLink information is available at 1-800-553-DART. More information is available on the web at www.DartFirstState.com.
For more information on DNREC’s Community Environmental Project Fund and the Community Involvement Advisory Council, visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/CIAC.