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It’s not often that government is able to improve service and efficiency and reduce the cost to taxpayers, all at the same time. But when it comes to public transportation in Northwest Volusia, the county has managed to do just that.

The change is the result of Votran, the county’s public-transit system, conducting an internal review of its services to look for opportunities to improve efficiency. Votran also is undergoing a state-mandated update to its transit-development plan that could result in some additional efficiencies. But some changes are ready to roll out now.

One of them involves Votran’s Route 24, a fixed route that services Pierson, Seville, DeLeon Springs and portions of DeLand. Route 24 has one of the lowest riderships of all of Votran’s fixed routes on the west side of the county, averaging about 3.9 passengers per hour. And that makes the route financially inefficient to continue operating. Fortunately, Votran has come up with a better way.

Scheduled to start in June, Route 24 will be replaced with on-call, door-to-door paratransit service. Instead of having to get to the nearest bus stop, riders will be picked up at their home or other preferred location and taken to their destination.

This is a shared-ride service, so your trip could involve stopping to pick up or drop off other customers along the way. Additionally, there could be some instances where riders are taken to a fixed-route connection point rather than all the way to their final destination.

However, the change will mean the added convenience of having access to service all day instead of just the three times a day that the Route 24 bus comes through the area.

To qualify for the paratransit service, residents will have to complete an application certifying that they have no other means of transportation. After that, all you’ll need to do is call 386-943-7050 in advance to schedule a trip.

And if you have a trip that you make every day, such as to a job, you can schedule a recurring trip in advance so that you don’t have to keep calling every day to schedule the trips.

The $3 one-way fare is a little more expensive than the fare for Votran’s fixed-route service, but the trade-off is better and more convenient service. Also, local taxpayers will realize a savings as a result of the change, as the paratransit service will reduce the annual cost to the county’s general fund by $91,000. To me, that seems like a pretty good deal for all concerned.

What do you think? Drop me a line at bgirtman@volusia.org to share your thoughts about this or any other issues affecting just West Volusia or the entire county. 

Your feedback is important to the decisions that will shape our future.

— Girtman, of DeLand, represents District 1 on the Volusia County Council


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