Transit route changes reviewed

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 7/12/18

The Cleveland Urban Area Transit System has recommended several changes to the current route transit system involving modifying several routes, as well as adding one other to better serve areas of …

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Transit route changes reviewed

Posted

The Cleveland Urban Area Transit System has recommended several changes to the current route transit system involving modifying several routes, as well as adding one other to better serve areas of the city. 

In addition, the board heard a presentation regarding a volunteer-staffed transportation service – debuting this fall in Cleveland and Bradley County – that will offer transportation options to seniors when public transit is not available.

The proposed route changes were discussed during the Cleveland Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization held Wednesday at the Municipal Building. No vote took place regarding the proposed route changes.

The changes include adjusting the Gold Route to include North Lee Highway up to Stuckey Drive. An extra stop at the Preserve Senior Living Apartments is proposed per a service petition from the facility.

In addition, route service to the Bradley-Cleveland Senior Activity Center on Urbane Road will be dropped from the Gold Route and added to the proposed Purple Route, which will also provide service to portions of the current Red Route on North Inman Street, the new Whirlpool plant site, Old Tasso Road and Bradley Square Mall.

The planned Purple Route will also serve the College Hill neighborhood, extending along Gaut Street to 11th Street. From there it will pass the Cleveland Housing Authority, returning to 6th Street and continuing along Benton Pike. A short section of the current Red Route that returns to Inman Street near the Cleveland city limits will be deleted from service, the proposal stated.

Additionally, the Red Route will be lengthened along Spring Place Road, east of ADP 40, to add service to Fresh-N-Low grocery store.

MPO coordinator Greg Thomas told board members that a public hearing on the proposed changes will be held soon.

“We are going to look at the cost impacts of this and the possibility of some fare changes,” Thomas said. “We seem to be behind the curve relative to other agencies on that, so we need to put that package together to bring that forward for the public to look at and for you all to make a decision. We will attempt to do that in early September.”

MPO chairman and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said he was pleased that the extension of Red Route will provide transit service to Fresh-N-Low grocery.

“All of these are worthy extensions. We’ve had a lot of inquiries about these particular areas,” Rowland said. “And taking Fresh-N-Low in probably satisfies those who live in a grocery store desert.”

Thomas also said funding was not approved for bus shelters at the library, the Walker Street Housing Authority and Preserve Senior Living Apartments.

“The community challenge grant for the bus stop was not funded, so we’re going to find some new way to be able to do that,” Thomas said.

A presentation was made to the board by Southeast Tennessee Development District transportation director Gillian Hale regarding soon to be launched volunteer-assisted transportation program. The program – deemed MyRide Southeast TN – is a program that will offer transportation options to seniors when public transit is not available. 

“The service will offer door-for-door transportation for seniors over 60,” Hale said. “We’ve decided to start in Bradley county and later in Hamilton county.”

The program is very economical.

The cost is $25 a year. Nineteen (dollars) of that is a membership fee and then it comes with two rides,” Hale said.

Compared to hiring a taxi, the program is a great value.

“I talked to one lady last week that spent $26 to go to the grocery store,” Hale said.

According to Hale, the program consists of linking volunteer drivers with older adult riders to provide vital transportation to help meet healthcare and wellness needs, as well as to grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other destinations. In addition, the service will provide users with help getting in and out of buildings and vehicles. Each ride, including departure and arrival times, is available up to three hours.

Hale said the program was piloted in Jackson and was a huge success.

“They had 1,800 rides the first year,” Hale said. 

There is a need for the program in Bradley County, Hale said.

“In Bradley County, there are 25,000 residents over 60,” Hale said. Seventy-six hundred are over 75.”

All drivers will be subject to background checks, including criminal and driving records. In addition, volunteer drivers will have car insurance, as well as secondary insurance through MyRide. Volunteers are asked to donate a minimum of three hours of their time per month.

Volunteers will use a software program to check where rides are available. The program will enable them to choose which ride they want to complete.

The program is made available through a settlement involving two Chancery Court cases in Davidson County, Hale said. The court decided to utilize the settlement to provide aid to seniors in Tennessee.

The program is currently seeking volunteers. The recruitment period is in process, with the program offering rides in September.

In other business, the board approved amending the Public Participation Plan to streamline the process for making amendments to the Regional Transportation Plan and the Transportation Improvement Plan to include the following changes pending a public review:

• Reduce the number of steps required to change the PPP by releasing an amendment for public comment after endorsement by the Technical Coordinating Committee.

• Shorten the public comment period for TIP amendments from 21 days to 14 days.

• The following were approved by the board and will be implemented after a review by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration:

• Update the MPO website to be more engaging and understandable to the general public.

• Increase use of social media to disseminate news and information.

• Use of community drop-in centers to increase citizens’ access to information through organizations such as City Fields.

• Utilize Spanish-language media outlets and organizations to engage additional citizens.

• Provide an interactive online map of current and planned transportation projects in the MPO region.


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