Oswego to promote use of Metra Park-n-Ride : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Oswego to promote use of Metra Park-n-Ride|
|Village to begin selling passes for new, expanded bus service|
|by John Etheredge|
For the first time since it opened more than eight years ago, the Village of Oswego is planning a marketing campaign to promote the use of the village's Metra Park-n-Ride parking facility.
The campaign will coincide with the village contracting with a new agency-KAT (Kendall County Transit) to provide bus service to the site.
KAT will replace Pace as the bus service for the site effective Jan. 1.
The Park-n-Ride is located near the northwest corner of Orchard Road and Mill Road on the village's west side.
KAT will increase the number of weekday morning departure trips from the Park-n-Ride to the Metra station at the downtown Aurora Transportation Center (ATC) from three to five. Weekday evening return trips from the ATC to the Park-n-Ride will also increase from three to five.
Mark Horton, the village's finance director, said village officials are hopeful that with the addition of the two departure and return trips every weekday more area Metra riders will choose to use the Park-n-Ride.
Horton noted that parking is free in the Park-n-Ride's 262 space parking lot and Metra riders who use it can save on the cost of parking at the ATC.
There is currently a waiting list for a monthly pass to park at the ATC and the cost for a pass is $31.50.
"People who use our Park-n-Ride will save the wear and tear on their cars, and the cost of gas and parking (at the ATC)," he said.
To market the Park-n-Ride and promote the facility's expanded bus service, Horton said village staff will prepare and place a flyer in the water bills the village will mail out Nov. 15.
In addition, he said copies of the village's flyer will be made available for display in the neighboring communities of Montgomery, Yorkville and Plano.
Horton noted that village officials are hopeful of luring back some of the Park-n-Ride users who stopped using the facility two years ago when Pace reduced its bus service to the facility from six morning departures to the current three and the number of return trips, also from six to three.
From its opening in 2004 to 2009, the village had used a federal transportation grant to pay for Pace bus service to the facility. However, when the grant expired, village officials determined there wasn't enough money in the village's budget to maintain bus service at its grant-funded level. As a result, Pace cut in half the number of departure and return trips to the facility.
Horton confirmed that use of the Park-n-Ride fell after bus service to the facility was reduced.
"With the two additional routes (beginning Jan. 1 with the KAT bus service), we're hoping we can lure some of the people we lost back," Horton said.
Horton said currently there are about 17 regular Park-n-Ride users, that's down from a peak of 74 in February of 2009, just as a nationwide recession was taking hold but almost a full year before bus service to the facility was reduced.
Under the village's new service agreement KAT will retain fair revenues paid by Park-n-Ride users who pay when they board the bus, while the village will receive revenues from 10 ride and monthly passes it will sell.
10-ride passes will be priced at $17.50 or $1.75 per ride, while monthly passes will be priced at $30.
Horton estimates the pass sales will generate an estimated $6,200 for the first year of the agreement.
Horton said village staff is working to make the passes available for sale "as soon as we can."
The passes will be sold at village hall, at the ATC and on the village's website.
In addition, Horton said village officials also hope to have the passes available for purchase at the Jewel-Osco store on Orchard Road just south of the Park-n-Ride site and at Montgomery Village Hall, and Plano and Yorkville city halls.
Horton confirmed the village has not actively promoted the Park-n-Ride in recent years and some of the marketing ideas village staff will now undertake were first raised by members of a transportation committee organized last year by Village President Brian LeClercq.
Referring to the Park-n-Ride, Horton said, "The biggest thing for us is to market that it is there, the passes, and hopefully this will let everyone know that it is there and it's free parking. Hopefully somebody on the east side of town who is now driving to the Route 59 (Metra) station and is paying to park will decide they will drive across the town to our Park-n-Ride and park for free."
Horton added he remains hopeful the Park-n-Ride will attract users from neighboring communities.
He said a three day license plate survey of vehicles parked at the Park-n-Ride found roughly 50 percent were registered to Oswego residents, while the rest were from neighboring communities or out-of-state.
Horton confirmed that the $6,200 he is projecting the village will receive from pass sales this year will not come close to defraying the cost for the Park-n-Ride's operation.
"We are still subsidizing the cost of public transportation no matter how you look at it," he said, adding, "The revenue to be generated from monthly passes and the cash fares will never support the total cost of the public transportation program."
A prior village board sought the development of the Park-n-Ride as the first step for eventually secured a full-fledged Metra station for the village.
The village used a $1.4 million federal grant secured by then-U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Dennis Hastert, R-Plano, to pay for the Park-n-Ride's construction in 2003-2004.
Horton noted that Metra recently contracted with a consultant who is completing an engineering feasibility study for a village Metra station.
"The feasibility study will be done in one or two years," Horton said, adding, "It will be interesting to see what recommendations come out of that and then what Metra does with it. I think if Metra is going to spend the money that they are to do that study, that they are thinking about doing (building an Oswego station) it-but stranger things have happened in government."