Saturday service and extended hours of operation are two of the recommendations coming from the City of Huntsville’s Public Transit Study.
The six-month study, conducted with Nelson Nygaard transportation consultants, analyzed data from ridership, surveys, and public meetings. The results show ridership continues to grow while hours of service do not. Routes are varied throughout the system, but the more popular routes struggle to meet demand while underused routes have more capacity than riders.
“Through this study, we’ve been able to pinpoint exactly how many riders get on the bus at specific locations, determine how long they ride, where they exit, what time they ride and so on,” said Tommy Brown, Director of Parking and Public Transit. “We’ve tracked the needs of employers, listened to what the riders want, and believe we have a sound plan for improvements.”
Brown presented the City Council with a five-year plan to expand and improve Public Transit operations. Recommendations include:
Phase 1 – to begin July 1, 2019
- Restructure route network
- Add Saturday service 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Extend weekday service to 9 p.m.
- Create a new transit hub at the Showers Center
Phases 2-5 (2020-2024)
- Upgrade route 4 (University Drive) to 15-minute service
- Upgrade four other routes to 30-minute service
- Extend weekday service to 10 p.m. on all routes
- Extend Saturday service to 8 p.m. on all routes
The route network restructuring plan will reallocate service to areas with greater ridership. It will provide more direct service to major destinations, such as shopping and recreation, increase service to employment centers and increase the frequency of service on high demand corridors.
Paratransit service, known as Handi-Ride, will also be expanded to extend service to all areas within the City limits.
Mayor Tommy Battle applauded the recommendations and said the administration increased the FY19 transit budget to include funding for Saturday and evening service along with a new North Huntsville transit hub. The changes will begin July 1.
“These are significant improvements for our community,” said Mayor Battle. “A robust public transportation system is critical to Huntsville’s ability to expand business development and work opportunities as well as provide mobility to those who have limited transit options.”
For Brown and his Public Transit team, the recommendations are a long time coming.
“We’ve been working toward a more robust system for many years, but we’ve not had the funding to do so,” said Brown. “With the growth of Huntsville and the commitment of this administration, our residents will soon have greater mobility options to meet their needs.”