Suffolk Transit seeks to extend service to Sundays and launches passenger survey – The Suffolk News-Herald
Suffolk Transit launched a user survey to assess recent route changes and determine people’s satisfaction with the city’s bus service.
It will also seek to identify any changes and assess the interest in extending the service to Sundays.
Citing the rapid growth in the number of residents, as well as the increase in commercial and industrial enterprises, the city said it was looking to continue to strengthen its transportation infrastructure.
Annual ridership has quadrupled over the past 10 years, from 24,662 passengers accessing 10 bus stops to 108,658 passengers and 180 bus stops. Suffolk Transit expanded from two routes with a four bus fleet to six bus routes using nine buses. Paratransit service is also available to pick up and drop off people within three-quarters of a mile of any bus route.
“Our challenge has been to develop a service that adapts and keeps pace with a rapidly developing city,” said Maria Ptakowski, Suffolk public transport manager, in a statement. “Our latest set of improvements came into effect in September when we introduced three larger buses to our fleet and made fundamental changes to our routes. We have redesigned the routes by changing from a circular system to a two-way system.
“A two-way route system moves people from point A to point B faster and increases the frequency of buses at any bus stop along that route. This system would better serve passengers and reassure companies looking for a reliable workforce.
She said the circular system has served the city well for a number of years, making good use of what she said are the city’s limited resources. But, she says, “we want to move away from that model and provide passengers with on-time service they can rely on. Future enhancements will come into effect gradually, but as we scale, we want to increase regional connectivity with transportation hubs in nearby cities. We want to be part of workforce development beyond city borders and we want to close coverage gaps for people who really need services.
The City Council passed Suffolk Transit’s 10-year plan in December 2019. It included extending service hours, adding Saturday routes, increasing service to the town center and adjusting routes for enable more direct and accessible services. He also outlined plans for infrastructure upgrades to include the construction of a new operations facility.
Suffolk Transit introduced three larger buses last autumn. These can carry 24 passengers and two wheelchairs and have replaced smaller buses that can carry 19 passengers and two wheelchairs.
Route adjustments at the time included two-way service on the Route Verte to create new direct connections to popular connections. It operates between King’s Fork High School, the downtown transfer station, and the Saratoga neighborhood south of West Washington Street.
The Red Route is also a two-way service through the city center, extending it to the Pruden Center, which was part of the Green Route. Suffolk Transit has made the yellow route more direct to connect the CenterPoint industrial park area, the Food Lion on Holland Road and the city center transfer station, and it has added an extra hour to the pink route and has also made bidirectional. The pink route runs on Nansemond Parkway, Progress Road and Wilroy Road.
The city notes that $1.5 million is invested annually in Suffolk Transit, with an additional $2 million proposed for FY2025 to build the operations facility.
“We’ve come a long way in a short time,” Ptakowski said. “We still have many challenges ahead, but we will continue to listen to passengers, business leaders and other stakeholders as their input will help shape the future of Suffolk Transit.”
Want to participate?
the driver survey, available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KQN7PVT, will end on May 28. Hard copies will be available on buses, Suffolk Public Libraries, Town Hall and Social Services. For more information, contact Ptakowski at 757-514-7641 or [email protected].