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Elderly and disabled residents who use Columbus’ Call-a-Bus service will receive telephone notification when their ride is on the way, under changes to improve the efficiency of the city’s transit system and the service for users.
By the end of this year, the city expects to have new software in use that will let the transit department better track Call-a-Bus, which serves people who are unable to use the ColumBUS fixed route buses because of disability, age or injury, said Laurence Brown, director of the Columbus Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The software will help plot routes, keep track of the time it takes to load and unload Call-a-Bus riders and notify riders, Brown said. It also will let the city track the exact location of the regular bus routes in real time, he said.
The city purchased the software from Mobilitat for about $60,000 earlier this year. Cindy Setser, city transit system coordinator, said the new system also will make required federal reporting of data much easier.
The city is in the middle phase of a study of the transit system as a whole, looking at the routes and how to best deploy the buses to help the ridership, Brown said.
In January, the city awarded a $45,000 contract for the transit study to Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc., a New York company with Indianapolis
offices. The city’s parameters were that the study would take into account the importance of the relatively new bus depot on Lindsey Street and the current budget, but otherwise there were no restrictions on what the study could pursue, Brown said.
“If you were to come into a city like this and it didn’t have a transit system, what would you create?” he said.
When the study concludes by the end of the year, the city will receive about a dozen route options and then will whittle those to the most practical, Brown said.
Mayor Kristen Brown said that the most requested transit change during a recent ridership study was the addition of a new route to the commercial areas along State Road 46, west of downtown.
Until 2011, the city operated an intermittent route that ran to the Westhill Shopping Center on Jonathan Moore Pike at County Road 325W, Setser said. Riders could get off anywhere along Jonathan Moore Pike, which includes stores such as Walmart, Menard’s and JayC Food Store and restaurants such as Taco Bell, KFC and Lincoln Square.
“We are not saying we are not going to do that,” the mayor said. “We have asked Laurence (Brown) and the consultants to look at, ‘Can we accommodate a westside route with our existing resources? Without terribly compromising what is going on in the central part of the city?’”
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