A local bus service touted as a cheap way to expand transportation for all Danville residents when it started nearly four years ago has scaled back its routes in an effort to increase use of the service.
Dan-Tran, an offshoot of the non-profit Blue Grass Community Action Partnership's Blue Grass Ultra Transit Service, started running its blue and white bus in late 2008. Since then, officials say the number of riders has increased, but it is time to change.
Taylor Veatch, efficiency manager for BGCAP, said the $1-per-ride route was modified, and the number of stops was reduced from 22 to 15. Starting July 1, the new loop, which drivers make six times a day, was cut to about an hour compared to nearly two-and-a-half hours before.
Veatch said the group, which has a local headquarters at the Alex Stevens Intermodal Transit Facility on Walnut Street, listened to customers, many of whom told them they couldn't buy refrigerated groceries because of how long the route took. The bus will primarily stop near lower income housing areas and shopping centers, including Aldi and Kroger, and Danville Manor, Walmart and Big Lots.
Although the Dan Tran buses are a common sight on city streets, Veatch said he thinks many people are still unaware of what it is.
"It's a great service for the community, if people just know it's out there," Veatch said.
BGCAP still runs its fleet of ultra-transit buses in 11 counties — including Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer — which Veatch said are used in large part by Medicaid recipients for doctor visits, but also can be accessed by the general public. The program is funded almost entirely by state and federal funds.
Veatch said the number of riders annually has grown to about 3,000 per year. However, he acknowledged there were some stops where the bus rarely or never picked up a single rider in the years since it has been operational. In addition to the new route, Veatch said BGCAP is looking at ways to provide connector service and buses for special events.
Buses also were made available to shuttle people during the Great American Brass Band Festival. Veatch said there were about 300 people who took advantage of the free ride to downtown and the Centre College campus from various remote parking locations.
BGCAP had already established the Wilderness Trace connector route, which runs from Lancaster to Stanford and Junction City and then to Danville three times a day.
There also is a bus that runs to and from Lexington four times a day, stopping at the Blue Grass Airport, the Greyhound bus station and the Lex Tran station.
Veatch said the organization also will make an effort to capitalize on numerous riders from Centre College who already take the BGCAP bus to Lexington on occasion. The Dan-Tran bus still makes two stops on the college's campus.