A Pekin woman’s efforts may prompt the city to add public bus service on Saturdays.
That lack of service “hadn’t come to my attention” said Mayor John McCabe, until Tammy Sylvester of Pekin delivered a petition bearing about 1,000 signatures in support of it to the City Council on Monday night.
“We will consider it,” McCabe said Tuesday.
While that may take some time, Sylvester’s work has at least set the wheels in motion.
She told council members she is among many local people who rely on the three bus routes operated by Peoria-based CityLink to get to work, do their shopping and otherwise travel on weekends.
“They seemed really impressed” by the signatures, which Sylvester said she collected over about a month from shoppers outside the Kroger grocery store on Broadway Street.
The city pays about $200,000 a year for CityLink to operate three routes over 10 hours Monday through Friday. That’s only a portion, however, of the service’s total cost, which is also funded by riders’ fares and state and federal grants, said city Administrative Services Director Mark Rothert.
The city’s cost is apparently money well spent, said Joe Alexander, planning administrator for the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District that operates CityLink.
About 100,000 people ride Pekin’s buses each year, he said. They’re evenly split between commuters on the hourly Pekin-Peoria route and those who ride along east-west routes on the city’s north and south sides from downtown to the Walmart Supercenter.
That amount, which equates to about 385 riders each weekday, “shows that people who ride the bus (in Pekin) are really using it,” Alexander said. Ridership has significantly increased over the decade that CityLink has operated in the city, he said.
The city, however, likely will want to study potential ridership levels on Saturdays “and whether it wants full or scaled-down” routes on that day, he said. The latter factor, and whether further grant funding may be available, will play large roles in determining how much Saturday service would cost the city, Rothert and Alexander said.
Approval to add to its Pekin service also would be required from the mass transit district’s board of directors, they said.
McCabe said the subject will be placed for discussion before an informal transportation committee comprised of city officials and members of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce that meets monthly. The committee has recently discussed extending CityLink’s two routes in Pekin, he said. It’s next scheduled to meet in January, said City Planner Katie Shackelford.
The City Council will have to direct city staff to study the Saturday bus addition for any solid action to begin on the issue, she said.
“As a (city) planner I can say that (adding bus service) has been a common call for action” in other communities, Shackelford said. Both Peoria and East Peoria have added weekend service in recent years, she said.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin