Maricopa Express Transit began operating its new route and schedule Sept. 18 following a request to the Transit Advisory Committee last month.
The request, made during an Aug. 28 meeting, included two major changes to the bus circulator: altering its route path and eliminating the day’s final route.
MET said the old route had too many left turns and a change could save about 10 minutes. The transit service said it nixed the daily 4 p.m. route due to few late afternoon riders and to avoid paying drivers overtime.
TAC, comprising the same members as Maricopa’s Planning and Zoning Commission, approved the changes. But not before voicing disquiet.
Commissioner Jim Irving said he was concerned about making cuts to the free service. MET fixed route travel is free. Dial-a-ride fare is $1 for a one-way trip.
“I worry about inconveniencing our citizens to avoid overtime pay,” Irving said. Eliminating the last route “meets the need of the city but not the need of the citizens.”
Other commissioners wanted to see better communication with riders about future changes to the bus routes and more data on daily ridership.
During a June presentation to TAC, the public transit service said it saw more than 12,500 riders from June 2022 to May. The bus circulator transported more than 8,100 riders during that period, while the dial-a-ride service had a little more than 4,400 riders.
New rider Andrew Dahl, 14, said he still had thoughts on the recent changes.
Finding a ride after 3 p.m. “might be kind of a pain,” he said.
Dahl said he hoped the bus would eventually circulate more often. Currently, the bus operates from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
“I kind of wish they had two buses that came by every 30 minutes,” he said. “I know a lot of people don’t ride it, but if it came by a little more often, then they don’t have to wait or stay at one place for so long.”