Reimagining a Legacy Transit System: Lessons from Wilmington, Delaware

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September 03, 2013
By: Mary Ebeling

Wilmington functions as the hub of DART (Delaware's bus system) in New Castle County, providing over 10 million passenger trips a year—including us and demand response paratransit. Thirty-eight of DART’s 60 routes serve Wilmington. Within the City of Wilmington, DART ridership continues to grow, resulting in bus congestion in the city’s central business district (CBD), particularly around and adjacent to Rodney Square. This success illustrates DTC’s role as an increasingly important part of the economic engine of the city. DTC contributes positively to the overall economic vibrancy of Wilmington through the movement of people, increased accessibility to the transportation system, improvements in air quality, and provision of access to jobs, medical care, and commercial centers.

 

But, the success of Wilmington’s transit service has brought challenges. As DART added more service to respond to the increasing demand, the additional buses started stacking around the square—sometimes two or three buses deep along the King Street side of the square. The situation began to negatively impact traffic movement and presented a clear safety concern as bus riders scrambled to find their buses. Parallel developments around Rodney Square included the growth of the high-end condominium market as well as an increasing number of financial firms locating offices along or adjacent to the square. For these neighbors, the transit activity created challenges of congestion, cleanliness, and safety.

 

This study from the State Smart Transportation Initiative - a COWS project - seeks to make recommendations for improving current system operations and to point out directions that can help position DART to function as an integral part of the city’s and region’s transportation system.

Executive Summary (3.6MB)