The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce has announced a report studying public transportation options for Delaware County is available for public review and comment.
The chamber worked with an Advisory Steering Committee, which included representatives from large private employers, county government, healthcare, human service agencies, regional transportation providers, state Department of Transportation officials and national transportation experts, a media release said. The chamber received a grant from the Rural Health Network of South Central New York to assess the transportation needs in the county. In addition, the county approved using $50,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act funds to hire a consulting firm to form a transportation plan throughout the county, according to previous Daily Star reporting.
According to the chamber’s website, Via Strategies was selected as the consultant for the project. The goals of the study were to “learn about residents’ travel needs, engage community stakeholders and organizations, assess public transit service options and recommend steps toward providing public transportation.”
The 80-page report presents extensive demographic information, summarizes the results of a survey that included 475 responses and defines different transportation options to consider.
The survey revealed some surprises. It asked where residents would like to be transported to via public transit. The first-place vote was Oneonta, followed by Delhi, Binghamton, Walton, Margaretville, Downsville, Hancock, Sidney, Stamford and Deposit. It also asked where people would be coming from, with Delhi and Walton almost tied for first, followed by Oneonta, Downsville, Hancock, Andes, Stamford, Sidney, Binghamton, Franklin, Margaretville, Deposit, Fleischmanns, Roxbury, Hamden and Treadwell.
“My biggest takeaway, though, is that nearly 70% of survey respondents said they would use public transit if it were available to them,” chamber President Ray Pucci said. “We knew, or thought we knew, that the lack of transportation was a barrier to meaningful employment, as well as to the recovery efforts of our neighbors. The survey ratified what we thought and pointed directions in which to move forward.”
The report recommends the county start a public transportation route between Delhi and Walton, then branch out to other routes. It suggested three different modes of transit: microtransit, an on-demand service with no fixed routes or schedules; fixed-route bus, traditional bus service; and hybrid bus and microtransit, which makes a scheduled run between two towns, but picks up and drops off customers at requested locations within town. It suggested that the public transit could be an extension of the Office of the Aging, which provides bus service to seniors. It also suggested the county could work with Otsego Express to set up set routes to Oneonta. Otsego Express already supplies a public transportation route between Oneonta and Sidney.
The full study report is available for review under the “Resources” tab at the chamber’s website at DelawareCounty.org. The chamber is seeking public comments about the report through mid-September, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Pucci said.
“I may incorporate comments into a final draft,” Pucci said. “Our steering committee will review that final draft before it is published and distributed to town supervisors, mayors and others. I hope to present it to the appropriate committee of the county board by early-October for consideration and action.”
Pucci said once the report is presented to the county board he hopes it “will seek to implement at least a pilot program as outlined in the report recommendations.”