Rock Region Metro Plans Service Enhancements, Fare Review

Rock Region Metro Plans Service Enhancements, Fare Review

As part of an annual review process, Rock Region Metro is planning system service enhancements, including proposed changes for 14 of its 26 bus routes. A fare review, the first since 2009, is also underway, the transit service said Wednesday.

The agency plans five public information meetings in late July to share information on specific proposals, which would take effect in October.

"We did not get the quarter-penny sales tax to fund public transit that would have funded the MOVE Central Arkansas bus service improvement plan, which included major system improvements," Jarod Varner, executive director, said in a news release. "Now, we’re exploring how we can take low- or no-cost pieces of the MOVE Central Arkansas plan and make minor improvements within the constraints of our current funding structure."

The organization began its annual service review in April. The interlocal agreement that created the agency in 1986 dictates that any service miles within the system must stay within the jurisdiction that funds them. For example, service miles cannot be added in the city of Little Rock without removing service miles from another Little Rock location.

"Obviously, we won't be able to make the major changes our riders continue to request, such as system-wide extended operating hours and adding service miles that deviate farther out from existing routes," Varner said. "The good news, however, is that we were able to make several minor improvements we think our riders will appreciate, without the benefit of a dedicated source of funding."

Rock Region Metro said that public comments and advances in technology such as automated passenger counters, which were placed on each fixed-route bus in the system last year, have helped it decide what improvements should be made. Field work performed by Metro staff yielded information on trip generators (places to which riders travel), rider behavior patterns and factors that could affect proposed route schedule times.

In May, Varner told Arkansas Business that the transportation system needs to cater more to those who do not work a 9-5 job. He also said that they plan to make a second attempt to pass the sales tax increase.

During June and July, Metro staff will be prepping public information materials for each proposed change, including information on related changes that pertain to schedules, bus stops and fares.

Once the public information meetings have passed, the agency will host a 30-day public comment period, followed by a decision on whether to implement the proposed changes by the Metro board of directors. If approved, changes will be implemented in October.

Here's when and where the meetings will take place:

  • 6-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 19 — Little Rock Southwest Community Center, 6401 Baseline Road, Little Rock.
  • 6-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 20 — Laman Library, Room 216, 2801 Orange St., North Little Rock.
  • 6-7:30 p.m., Monday, July 25 — Jess Odom Community Center, 1100 Edgewood Drive, Maumelle.
  • 6-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 26 — Bill Harmon Recreation Center, 51 Shelby Road, Sherwood.
  • 6-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 27 — Central Arkansas Library System Main Branch, 100 S. Rock St., Little Rock.

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