Usage of Western Kenosha County Transit increasing, hearing audience told


One of the Western Kenosha County Transit buses leaves the Community Library in Salem Monday.

Usage of Western Kenosha County Transit generally has been increasing for the seven quarters in which the service has existed, officials told the audience at a public hearing today at the Community Library in Salem.

The first quarter that the transit service existed it had about 600 riders. For the last quarter, there were 2,523, said Carolyn Feldt, a county Division of Aging supervisor who oversees the transit service.

The transit service operates fixed route and on-demand buses in Western Kenosha County. It started two years ago and is 80 percent funded by federal grant  funds. Some state funds and some county tax revenue, which is the smallest portion of the funding, make up the rest of the operation’s $626,907 budget. One-way trips on the fixed routes and $3 for door-to-door service. There is also a $10 monthly pass available for the fixed routes.

“Everybody wants to know how it’s going,” said Feldt. “It’s definitely growing. We’re pretty confident so far that the system is being well-received.”

That growing ridership, and the county’s success in receiving grant funding so far, has the service anticipating expanded service. The transit service started operating on Saturdays with an on-demand service and is anticipating several other expansions of service as soon as more vehicles, provided through federal grants, are available, including:

  • New connections at Southport Plaza in Kenosha at 7:20 a.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:25 p.m.
  • Meeting two more trains at the Metra Station in Antioch. Currently the bus only meets the 4:35 p.m. train.
  • More frequent service that will minimize wait times between western transit buses and city buses.
  • Five daily trips to Lake Geneva, reducing time between buses.
  • A new stop at the Pleasant Prairie Target store.
  • Better timed service to the senior dining program in Twin Lakes.
  • An hourly local bus from Paddock Lake to Silver Lake to Salem, allowing more route deviation time.

While western transit had hoped to implement the expansion in September, the services may have to wait until January when new buses are now expected to arrive, Feldt said. Some of that delay is due to shifting of funding at the state level due to economic stimulus money.

Other highlights from the hearing, which is a required part of applying for the transportation grants, included:

The audience learned that most riders are between the ages of  25 and 64.

54 percent of people answering a survey distributed on the  bus said they did not have a valid driver’s license and 67 percent had no other way of making the trip.

Shopping was the most common use of the bus, at 30 percent. Social and work tied at 21 percent.

Saturday service, which started this summer, was the most asked for service request int eh survey with 79 percent favoring it.

Transit officials like to emphasize that the bus is not just for seniors or people with disabilities, but that it is general public transportation. One of the few speakers at the hearing who was not a transit employee or a public official drove home that point when she related her experience. Tracy Musgrave of Bristol said she used the service when she was recently out of work and without a car. “I found the bus service and it was a life saver for me,” Musgrave said. ” She used it as part of getting to job interviews, grocery shopping, the library and to visit the pharmacy for her children. She recommended the service emphasize the use of the transit system by people in situations similar to hers.


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