Expansion of Carroll Transit favored, survey finds

December 01, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

An expanded Carroll Transit System could serve residents' needs better than a public bus system, a recent survey indicates.

A public bus system would be too expensive and have too few riders, respondents to the survey said.

The nonprofit Carroll Transit, which operates with county assistance and has 17 vehicles, could offer efficient service to shopping centers and medical offices, the most popular destinations, according to the survey.

The Carroll commissioners asked county residents in September and October whether they would use public transportation and, if so, how. Surveys were printed in two local newspapers and distributed at libraries and public offices, and to employees at 10 county businesses with more than 100 employees each.

Darlene DeMario, the county's commuter transportation coordinator, and Timothy D. Hartman, administrator of the county's Office of Performance Auditing, presented results of the survey to the commissioners at a closed meeting Monday.

The response from residents to the survey was "poor," according to a summary report. Of 133,000 residents in the county, 1,065 responded.

The survey should not be considered representative of public opinion because of the small response, Ms. DeMario said. She said she had hoped for at least 2,500 responses.

Ms. DeMario analyzed the responses and wrote the summary.

Of the residents who responded, 52 percent said they would never use public transportation.

"I sincerely believe public transportation will greatly increase the crime rate in our county," one respondent said.

"I hope Carroll County will never get public transportation. I want it to remain as rural as possible," another said.

Others were more supportive.

"I am able to get around with a cane. If there was a bus service, I would be able to get out more," one person said.

"With the environment the way it is, public transportation is almost a necessity," another said.

Ms. DeMario recommended the expansion of Carroll Transit, which provides 4,000 to 5,000 rides a month, many for disabled and elderly people.

Carroll Transit was honored this month by the Transportation Association of Maryland as the most improved transit system in Maryland. The professional management association for transit systems has about 50 members.

Carroll Transit was recognized with a plaque for increasing its service, safety and training, and for improving its financial situation.

Carroll Transit requires a rider to call 24 hours ahead to be picked up at the door. The fare is $2 per zone.

Carroll Transit also runs a shuttle for shoppers in Westminster from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for $1 each way. The shuttle stops at many city shopping centers.

The system has an annual budget of $500,000.

An expanded Carroll Transit would be cost-effective, Ms. DeMario wrote in the report, and most of the places residents want to go could be incorporated into the current shuttle service.

The most popular destinations for survey respondents were Cranberry Mall, stores along Route 140, Carroll County General Hospital, the county Health Department and medical facilities along Route 32.

Employees who completed the survey were not interested in riding public transportation to work, Ms. DeMario said.

The survey found that residents would pay $1 for round-trip fare.

Calvert County has used a system similar to what an expanded Carroll Transit service could be, Ms. DeMario said.

Doyle E. Cox, chief of transportation in Calvert, said that county owns four 21-passenger buses that provide 60,000 to 70,000 rides a year. Most riders are elderly or disabled, he said.

Calvert County operates several fixed routes to shopping centers and medical buildings with service from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The fare is $1.25 one way for adults.

Drivers will deviate from their routes to pick up residents who call in advance if they live half to three-quarters of a mile off the route, Mr. Cox said. If they live farther away, the county will send a van for them.

Linda Boyer, executive director of Carroll Transit, said yesterday that she had not read the survey.

The transit system's board of directors will meet at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 15 at Bullock's Airport Inn to discuss the survey.

The board will meet with county commissioners to discuss the survey Dec. 20 at 8 a.m. at the same restaurant.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.