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Change in South Elgin bus route means more riders

Updated: November 12, 2012 6:07AM

SOUTH ELGIN — The village’s Pace Bus Route 801 was the road less travelled for several years.

“We had noticed for years that the Pace bus that came through South Elgin was really lightly used,” said Steve Super, director of community development.

However, since that route was moved last year, there has been a 515 percent increase in ridership in and through South Elgin, Super said, making it a road more-travelled by South Elgin residents and workers.

The route change was due to a yearlong, $75,000 transit study by the Regional Transportation Authority — which operates the suburban bus agency — along with the village and planning consultants Land Vision. The three met with residents, industrial and commercial business owners and management, and their employees, to review what public transportation options were needed in the village.

“The study gave us the opportunity to look at the numbers and the data, and show that everything has changed in the past 20 years,” Super said. “Our one route had been in place since before that. We were able to show the facts — that if the bus went up Spring Street to Randall Road, it would be going by where more people lived and worked.”

For decades, officials estimated, the 801 bus started at the downtown Elgin Pace terminal, ran south on Route 31, east across South Elgin’s Main Street bridge, over to Route 25 and south down to the Charlestowne Mall on Route 64 in St. Charles. From there the bus went on a loop through St. Charles and Geneva before heading back to Elgin.

Now, when the 801 bus gets to downtown South Elgin, it turns west on Spring Street to Randall Road before heading south. The bus then does one loop at Thornwood Avenue and Briargate Road — in the middle of South Elgin’s Randall Road retail corridor — before heading down to the Kane County Judicial Center on selected routes when the building is open. The route ends, and begins to head north again, at the Geneva Metra Station.

“The ridership figures cited by South Elgin bear out exactly what everyone had hoped would occur by restructuring the route: Ridership is increasing, and we’re providing easier and better access to the destinations along Randall Road,” said Patrick Wilmot of Pace media relations.

There have been changes by riders, too. Because the 801 bus no longer looped through St. Charles, that city saw dial-a-ride numbers increase as well, Wilmot said.

“The St. Charles-Geneva Call-n-Ride … has been our Call-n-Ride with the highest ridership out of the six that we currently operate. Since January, each month we’ve averaged just over 1,200 rides, including an estimated 1,332 rides on the route in August,” Wilmot said.

“We believe that the service has been successful in that it not only maintains service availability for people that were traveling around the loop on the 801/802, but that it provides a better level of service by offering the flexibility of passengers ability to request a ride from anywhere to anywhere in the zone, when they want or need to travel,” he added. “It’s a more personalized level of service and makes transit even easier to use.”

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