For a city, it’s hardly a major cost. But Tega Cay wants to know— is it worth it?
Mulling whether to fund a new transit option in a fast-growing area, city leaders recently put out an online survey to gauge interest among residents.
“We have had approximately 200 responses already on the survey and plan on keeping the survey active until the end of November,” Charlie Funderburk, city manager, said Friday.
Last summer, the city heard a presentation from David Hooper, director of the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study, detailing the need for and possibility of new transit in the growing area between Fort Mill and Tega Cay. Hooper pitched a plan where the town and city, along with York County, would share costs to fund a demand response or “dial a ride” service at about $10,000-$15,000 each.
The plan would fill a gap east of the Catawba River.
“That is the one place within the RFATS transit area where there is no transit service available,” Hooper said at the time.
Funderburk plans to update Tega Cay City Council on the latest survey results when that group meets Nov. 20.
“Once Council has the public feedback, they will make a decision one way or the other,” he said. “At this point, I do not know when that decision would occur.”
Questions range from the simplest —would you use it? — to whether a service should be publicly or privately funded, what rates should be and what type of trips folks might take. The anonymous survey also allows for some demographic information. The type of service being considered often serves older riders or people with disabilities, though anyone can schedule a ride.
RFATS distributes federal transportation money to an area of more than 200,000 people. It includes Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Indian Land and Lake Wylie. Yet for years, Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Lake Wylie haven’t had access to demand response transit like Rock Hill, Indian Land and western parts of York County. All because federal transportation lines place Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Lake Wylie in the Charlotte, rather than Rock Hill, metro planning area.
Until recently, a new service east of the river would’ve meant petitioning Charlotte planners to expand south. Hooper made the case to federal planners to include the York County sites in his area for demand response questions. He could expand funding to York County Access, which already includes Rock Hill and nearby areas.
The problem is, the new federal funding wouldn’t kick in until the new service has been running two years. Hooper said if Fort Mill, Tega Cay and York County go in and start the service, costs could be cut in half once the federal money arrives. The public bodies could pay by mileage, leading to the estimates at up to $15,000 each annually to start.
Some costs would be offset by user fees, too.
In the proposed setup, riders could call and schedule trips. Typical uses include medical appointments and rides to work. It would be similar to existing York County Access service west of the river, and Lancaster Area Ride Service operating in Indian Land. It wouldn’t be a fixed route service, the next level up for transit, like the 82X CATS bus from Charlotte to Carowinds to Rock Hill.
Hooper has presented the possibility to Fort Mill, Tega Cay and York County. All have expressed some level of interest, though they haven’t voted to proceed at this point.