Survey to poll interest in public transportation

August 22, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Would you ride the bus in Carroll?

The county commissioners want to know.

The county will begin distributing surveys this week asking if residents would consider using a public bus to get to work, shops, the doctor, school or other places.

"We all want a transit system in Carroll County," Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said Friday.

But money is an issue.

"We don't have the money for a full transportation system," Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said.

Carroll Transit System Inc. offers county residents a version of public transportation. The nonprofit group, which operates with county assistance, has 17 vehicles that provide 4,000 to 5,000 rides a month, Executive Director Linda Boyer said.

Anyone may use the service, but many riders are disabled or elderly, she said. Riders call Carroll Transit 24 hours in advance -- and are picked up at their door. The fee is based on a zone system, and the charge is $2 per zone.

Carroll Transit also runs a "Shoppers Shuttle" in Westminster from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for $1 each way, Ms. Boyer said. The shuttle stops at many city shopping centers.

The commissioners said they decided to do a survey on public transportation as a result of an audit of Carroll Transit books.

The service has an annual budget of $500,000, much of which comes from the county. Other money comes from fees, donations and grants.

Carroll Transit has struggled through the years, and the commissioners want to determine what kind of public transportation would best suit county residents' needs, Commissioner Donald I. Dell said.

Mrs. Gouge said the commissioners want to find out if residents are interested in public transportation and what areas of the county could be served by buses. Mrs. Gouge said she has wondered for years why more people don't use Carroll Transit.

Darlene DeMario, the county's commuter transportation coordinator, said she will analyze the results of the survey. She hopes at least

2,500 residents will complete the survey.

Timothy D. Hartman, administrator of the county's Office of Performance Auditing, is overseeing the survey. He said 20,000 to 25,000 copies of the questionnaire will be distributed.

In addition to being published in local newspapers, surveys will be distributed to the county's major employers, schools, libraries and town offices.

Ms. DeMario said she hopes to begin analyzing the surveys in late September.

If residents show an interest in public transportation, a minibus system might work best in Carroll, she said. The county probably would not have enough riders to fill buses of the size used in large cities, she said.

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