DuPage bus service rolling well, official says
By Susan Frick Carlman firstname.lastname@example.org December 11, 2012 1:04PM
It looks like funding is in place to keep Pace bus route 714 from Naperville through Wheaton to College of DuPage running. | Sun file photo
Updated: January 13, 2013 6:20AM
Pace apparently is keeping pace.
Members of the DuPage County Board heard a report Tuesday morning suggesting the Pace suburban bus system is alive and well around here. Tom Marcucci, the former Elmhurst mayor who represents the county on the Pace board of directors, shared the good news.
Of particular interest locally was the solvency of Route 714, which had been plagued with funding woes. Marcucci said the route — which loops 18 times every weekday between the Metra commuter stations at Fifth Avenue in Naperville and downtown Wheaton, making stops at College of DuPage and a half dozen other locations in between — is “up and running entirely on its own.”
A partnership comprised of Naperville, Wheaton, COD and the county had teamed up to help subsidize the route through the end of this year, if necessary, while Pace continued working to build ridership after federal funding ran out three years ago. The route, which is ridden by a significant number of low-income residents and people with disabilities, was deemed viable last spring.
Pace will operate in the coming year with a $208 million budget, Marcucci said, that calls for no increases at the fare box. The sum anticipates 30 percent of its revenue from rider fares, he said, adding that it represents a much lower ratio than the income used to support the Metra train system.
“That means $148 million is basically government support,” he said, referring to income streams that include federal grants and tax revenue distinguished by retail sales tax receipts that have been “over-performing” in the past year.
The Interstate 55 route that features a bus-only express lane, greeted by media skeptics early on, has also been among the year’s success stories, Marcucci reported.
In addition, the Pace van pools that serve specific neighborhoods now number 756, and “all-time high,” he said. The coming year’s $111 million capital program includes new vehicles for that program, in addition to regular buses and vans accessible to people with disabilities.
Marcucci acknowledged that the federally mandated service for riders who have physical challenges is not profitable for Pace, but it is nonetheless extremely valuable from a societal perspective. The rides go well beyond transporting patrons to doctor appointments, he said, noting that they also provide users with a way to get to school, which enables them to secure employment and become taxpayers.
One of North America’s largest bus networks, Pace covers a service area of some 3,500 square miles.