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Two new buses join DART system

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The Doylestown DART unveiled one of its two new buses, following a Dart Bus Committee meeting March 8, held to discuss the transportation service’s annual report.

The 14-seat Ford buses with V-10 engines and a “refreshed design” are replacing buses that are seven to eight years old. One of the older buses will be utilized as a backup, when needed. The other will be used for parts, said Vincent J. Volpe, executive director of Bucks County Transport Inc.

“It’s a very pleasing vehicle,” Volpe said of the new bus.

The new buses have advertising on the back, which provides revenue, but the sides read Doylestown Dart in big letters.

“We want them to be recognized,” said Lou White, chair of the Dart Bus Committee.

The Doylestown DART continues to be a success story for the Central Bucks area, according to its annual report.

Dart provides daily service for seniors and other riders, as well as special event service.

Its shuttle service for community events, including the Doylestown Arts Festival and Doylestown Township’s Summer Concert Series, was utilized by more than 3,000 riders in 2018.

The Doylestown Dart operates two vehicles Monday through Friday and one vehicle on Saturday, which will have some route changes this year in an attempt to make trips faster for some passengers, and provide more convenient stops.

“We’ll see how it works out,” Volpe said.

In 2018, the Dart carried 26,107 passengers, not counting its courthouse shuttle, down from 27,297 in 2017 due to limited use for the arts festival when rainy weather limited attendance.

White said ridership for the car show in Doylestown last July was also down due to a rain “washout” on the second day.

Of the 26,107 riders in 2018, 14,700 were seniors who ride at no cost.

Another 7,000 paid $1 to ride or used tokens so that approximately one third of daily riders were not seniors, part of an effort to change the perception that the Dart is the “Old People’s” bus.

In addition to seniors, the Dart bus also is used by students of Delaware Valley University, one of Dart’s partners. DelVal students, who ride for free by showing their student ID, took nearly 1,400 trips in 2018.

When they need the bus on Saturday nights between 6 p.m. and midnight, after dinner and a movie in Doylestown, for example, they call the driver’s cell phone for pickup, Volpe said. “That works well,” he added.

Tokens were provided at the request of the agency providing services to the homeless community (CHHS), so people could use them to get to appointments around the Central Bucks area, the report states.

Dart also provides a shuttle to and from the Bucks County Justice Center and county administration building and the county parking garage. Volpe said there were nearly 26,000 trips on that shuttle last year. The total would have been higher, he said, if there had not been two snow days.

Dart total ridership – which includes its 26,107 passengers plus the 25,998 courthouse shuttle passengers – was 52,105 for 2018.

“The courthouse shuttle is not a formal part of Dart. It’s an appendage,” White said.

“It doubles our ridership,” Volpe added.

Doylestown Township Manager Stephanie Mason said the courthouse shuttle “familiarizes people with Dart, making them more comfortable with it.”

Principal funding for the Dart service comes from PennDot via SEPTA, thanks to the advocacy of now former state Sen. Charles Mcllhenney, according to the annual report.

The Dart also benefits from many community partners, including Doylestown Borough and Township, the County of Bucks, Delaware Valley University, Discover Doylestown and the Mercer Museum, which together provide the “local match” for its funding.

Another source of revenue is the purchasing of advertising on the Dart vehicles by local businesses and nonprofits.

Though additional funds were not available in 2018, Bucks County Transport continues to explore with Chalfont Borough and New Britain Borough and Township, the future possibility of an extension of the Dart out Business Route 202 to County Line Road. Community staff continue to explore additional funding sources.

In addition, said Doylestown Mayor Ron Strouse, Doylestown Hospital, which currently has a couple of employees who utilize the DART bus, is planning to study the DART needs of potential future employees expected to arrive in town by train as the hospital expands.

“They’re not asking us for anything yet,” he added.


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