Free bus service adds 3 routes in Danville
Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2023
BY FIONA MORGAN
The new Bluegrass Ride bus service officially began three new routes in Danville on Aug. 7. Buses run hourly from Monday through Saturday, and fares are free for all users.
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Monday to Friday buses run between the hours of 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. depending on the route. Saturday buses run from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 3:50 p.m., depending on the route.
All three routes will connect at the Downtown Transfer Stop at the Danville parking garage, which is at Walnut and Third Street, for easy, timed transfers.
Route 1 travels on South Fourth Street, then down Baughman Avenue, then makes stops in the areas of Aldi, Kroger, Walmart, Danville Manor Shopping Center, and many other stops along the way, then makes its way back to South Third Street.
Route 2 travels around downtown, including to the Boyle County Library, then goes east on Main Street, stops at the post office, then to Stanford Avenue and makes a stop at the Village Apartments. It goes back through Alta Avenue to East Main Street, then has stops at Hill-N-Dale Street and Save A Lot.
Route 3 starts west on Walnut Street and stops at Centre College, then Jackson Park, then Crescent Drive, then takes Main Street over to Morning Pointe Senior Living. The last three stops are near Big Lots, Vendors Village, and Ephraim McDowell Bariatric Center.
The entire bus schedule, route map with stop locations, and all information needed to plan a trip can be found online at bluegrassride.org. The home page includes a trip planner.
People can also plan bus trips in the Google Maps app on any smartphone. To find a route, enter the start point and destination, then click the bus transit icon at the top for a detailed trip plan. Bus stops are also labeled on Google Maps.
Blue Grass Community Action Partnership, which runs the Bluegrass Ride service, is in the process of putting up physical bus signs at each bus stop around town. The signs are blue with a green grass hill at the bottom, the same design as the Bluegrass Ride buses. The buses say “Bluegrass Ride” and “Danville” on the side, and they look different from the BGCAP Transit buses.
People can request pickups within a certain distance if they can’t make it to the bus stop. Buses will travel up to a half mile off the route to do pickups. They can call the number 800-456-6588 at least 24 hours in advance to schedule the pickup.
All Bluegrass Ride vehicles are wheelchair accessible and can accommodate up to two passengers in wheelchairs. Buses are also equipped with bike racks on the front of the bus that can hold up to two bicycles. Bike racks are available on a first come, first served basis.
Why the new service
BGCAP Executive Director Troy Roberts explained that Bluegrass Ride is replacing their DanTran service, and that the change has been needed for years.
BGCAP’s transportation program, BGCAP Transit, is the Human Service Transportation Delivery broker for Region 8 in Kentucky. As the broker, they provide coordinated Medicaid and public transportation.
Their public transportation is funded in part from federal money through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. BGCAP Transit has operated DanTran in Danville and other bus routes in Nicholasville and Georgetown for many years.
The DanTran service made one large route through Danville, and looped six times a day. Roberts said they heard complaints that sometimes the large loop made it too time consuming for people to get from one place to another.
As a requirement for federal funding, BGCAP conducts community meetings to gather input about their service. They heard similar sentiments about bus service in Danville, Nicholasville, and Georgetown.
“Our DanTran, NichTran and GTran buses looked too much like our BGCAP Transit vehicles, making it hard to know which bus to get on,” Roberts said. “There were no signs so people knew exactly where the bus would stop, and that our routes were too long making it very time consuming to use the service.”
After several community meetings, BGCAP asked for additional funding to hire a national transportation consulting group to improve bus services. The result is Bluegrass Ride, which will be in all three cities and eventually more.
The process for creating and implementing Bluegrass Ride started before the Covid-19 pandemic, and was delayed from pandemic-related issues.
Roberts said that having three routes operating simultaneously in different parts of the city, with a transfer point, should make it faster for people to get places.
“We looked at all of our routes, increased the number of loops we were making and added transfer points for them to shorten the service time,” Roberts said. “We removed places that were not being used and added places that we thought the service would be beneficial. The tough part is to keep each loop short enough that people will use the service. If it takes too long to get somewhere, people just aren’t going to use it.”
Roberts said since they started Bluegrass Ride in Georgetown in January, its usage has dramatically increased, and they are hoping for the same in Danville.
“GTran used to average around 400 riders a month like DanTran currently is,” Roberts said. “Bluegrass Ride Georgetown had 2,159 riders in June, so we are hoping to see the same kind of increase in Danville.”
Roberts said that having free rides allows them to better serve the community, in addition to helping fill local jobs. One barrier to employment for some people is not having transportation. Roberts said having more public transportation will lead to better self-sufficiency.
“Every year BGCAP’s Community Services department conducts a needs assessment survey,” Roberts said. “This survey consistently shows transportation solves a major barrier to self-sufficiency. It also saves people money on gas. They don’t have to find parking, and fewer vehicles on the road improves air quality.”
BGCAP hopes to add more routes in Danville, as Roberts said there have already been talks about running a spur route to the area by BCTC and the Extension Office. The spur would go three times daily, in the morning, midday and late afternoon.
They also plan to start a route from Danville to Lexington hopefully before the end of the year. The routes will run three times daily in the morning, midday and late afternoon. Exact times are still in the works, and the stops are being coordinated with other transportation providers in Lexington, such as LexTran, Greyhound, UK and the airport.