As Merrill grows and progresses, so does the demand on our unique transit service. With the steadily increasing services provided to the housing development on West Jackson Street, the relocation of Merrill’s new Walmart Super Center and the anticipated future development in the Pine Ridge Area, we are no longer capable of providing effective, efficient 30 minute service for the community.
In order to provide the same quality curb-to-curb, Demand/Response transit service, the Transit Commission is proposing 1-Hour Headway Service, which will require all passengers to “Call-In” or arrange their pick-up a minimum of one hour before their desired service. The majority of passengers will be serviced within 30-40 minutes as usual, with an anticipated 1- hour service level at peak times.
Along with the on-time performance issues incurred by our city’s growth, the State & Federal operating assistance has been cut by an anticipated 3.1% for 2014. This represents another $19,000 cut to our local transit operation, additional to the recent 10% cut ($20K+) incurred by Governor Walker’s Biennium budget. These have been historically the hardest “fiscally hit” years to Wisconsin’s Public Transportation Systems with no anticipated recovery for transit in the future State budget plans.
The proposed 1-hour service level will enable Transit to combine all transit requests, Eastbound and Westbound, without 30-minute overlap to areas such as the medical facilities on South Center Avenue and the Pine Ridge shopping area. With these changes, the Commission anticipates a reduction in mileage/fuel consumption to help offset the loss of operating assistance.
This proposal is deemed to be the most practical and fiscally responsible, in order for Merrill to continue to provide the quality on-time, Demand/Response transit service that our citizens are accustomed to.
What this means to you:
•The buses will be dispatched east and west on the hours.
(Our third bus will continue to support the peak routes as necessary).
•Call a minimum of 1-hour before you desire to ride, including medical and other appointments).
Together with responsible time management and efficient bus scheduling, we will overcome these challenges and still provide the best quality service for our community and our valued citizens.
A public hearing regarding this service change will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 6 p.m., City Hall Council Chambers. The bus will be available for those in need of transportation to the hearing. Call before 5 p.m. the day of the hearing to reserve a ride.