City of Sioux Falls makes improvements to public transit system

Published: Jun. 25, 2019 at 10:21 PM CDT
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The City of Sioux Falls has been brainstorming ways to speed up the public transit system while making it more accessible for its riders.

Right now city officials say the bus system won't be sustainable in the future if it doesn't grow with the city.

A "core team" has been established with 14 people from more than nine different city departments to work on this project that would make public transit more user friendly.

Right now the buses work on a fixed schedule and arrive and leave at the same stops every single day, but on demand transit would make traveling more flexible.

The "core team" is in their prototype phase with this project and still has a lot of testing to go through, but they're looking to implement this new system as soon as next year.

"I’d like to see an app like a phone app where we can locate the bus," a Sioux Falls resident said.

That app could be coming as soon as next year. Colton Mott moved to Sioux Falls four years ago from southern California and has been using the Sioux Falls bus system ever since. He’d like to see more improvements made.

"I like the way that it is right now maybe even getting more buses out there," Mott said.

To solve the problem riders have been experiencing a "core team" is looking at how to implement a new system that works for all riders.

"On demand transit is much more flexible so it sets that aside and it takes you where you want to go when you want to go there," Innovation Coordinator, Allie Hartzler said.

"With how traffic is getting worse and worse every day there's a chance I might still take a bus even after I get a car," Mott said.

The city has learned about 63 percent of bus riders use smart phones and the amount of drivers licenses' being obtained are decreasing.

"I do kind of like the idea of them like partially doing the transfer to the, hey I’m here come and get me," Mott said.

By having this on demand technology the city will be able to forecast the volume of riders who want to go to the same place at the same time.

"That's how we can make sure we have enough buses, that we have enough drivers, that there's enough ways for people to get to where they want to go at the same time," Hartzler said.

Since the city is growing Hartzler says her team can't provide transportation to all service areas within specific hours that meets the demand for all customers, but with on demand service it could change that.

"So we wanted to come up with an innovative way to make it more cost efficient and more user friendly,” Hartzler said.

The on demand system could work in tandem with the current bus system, but the ideas are still being worked out.

The "core team" has interviewed hundreds of riders and collected their feedback. The people KSFY News spoke with Tuesday say they'd like more service hours and more service areas covered.

The city is welcoming any feedback from the community. Any new transit system will be reviewed by the city council before it's implemented. That meeting will take place Tuesday, July 16.