Simplified: The Sioux Falls Transportation Planning department is moving forward with a hybrid model for the bus system to increase ridership with a $1.7 million budget for next year. Here's what changes they're planning to make.
Why it matters
- The Sioux Area Metro (SAM) saw a decrease in ridership during the pandemic. Numbers still haven't rebounded, according to Sam Trebilcock, the city's transportation planner.
- The new transit development plan hopes to increase ridership by introducing more technology, continuing on-demand services and changing the scheduled routes, which Trebilcock says haven't been updated in decades.
- The new plan also hopes to increase the service area of SAM since only 59.5% of the city is covered by transit services.
"When people kind of leave your system and have to find different ways to get around, they need a reason to come back," Trebilcock said.
What does the hybrid model look like?
Under the new plan, SAM will drop from 12 to eight fixed routes.
- Three of those routes will run at 30-minute frequencies all day.
- Any of the stops that are not combined to create a new route will be on-demand stops, except when they're within two to three blocks of a fixed route.
- The current under-serviced area will be covered by SAM On-Demand.
The plan also recommends six new stops to help with kid and family destinations.
"You can't continue to run fixed-route buses empty in areas that we have been," Trebilcock said. "Let's focus the fixed-route services where it's really needed and where it's really being utilized and try to make it even more attractive."
What other changes are coming?
The city is still working on getting Wi-Fi on fixed-route buses and installing new bus shelters. They also want to have real-time GPS tracking for buses so riders know how close their bus is.
- Automatic passenger counters and mobile ticketing were already implemented.
- There's also Wi-Fi available at the downtown bus depot.
With fewer fixed routes, the city will also replace some of the existing buses.
- Trebilcock said they're also hoping to move toward electric buses and purchase smaller vehicles for the SAM On-Demand areas.