DRYDEN — Dryden residents who live in rural areas without reliable transportation will have to wait for a pilot program that would give them rides to the nearest bus stop on Route 43.
Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, which was in the process of launching an app in Dryden known as T-Connect that lets riders request pickup from their homes, announced earlier last week the service has been delayed.
The COVID-19 pandemic reduced bus ridership, forcing the delay until at least spring 2021 from what would have been last spring, said Patty Poist TCAT communications and marketing manager.
“The ridership just didn’t support it in this area,” Poist said. “We need the normal ridership service to get T-Connect to work on a weekly basis.”
Ridership dropped 90% when the pandemic hit in March, Poist said. It remains down 70%.
People with disabilities will still have a Gadabout shuttle bus service available, she said which doesn’t require the use of the T-Connect app. However, people who live in rural areas and are too far to walk to the bus loop will be affected.
Dan Lamb, town of Dryden deputy supervisor, said the need for alternate transportation is strong, but it makes sense to delay the program.
“If you want a project to work out, you have to do it when there’s a demand in ridership,” he said. “COVID is changing the way we use public transit all over; it has disrupted a lot of programs, like TCAT, on which they can run.”
Poist said TCAT is not giving up on Dryden. In the meantime, however, TCAT is providing a modified weekend version of the program in the Lansing/Etna area that will start Aug. 30.
“It’s a problem all across the country where people live too far from a bus stop,” she said. “With stay-at-home orders and people working from home because of the pandemic, it’s thrown everything off-course.”
Lamb, who lives on Peruville Road, said he’s very interested in how the service will eventually play out. He used to ride the TCAT bus when it came down his street.
“As a legislator and a resident of this street, I want to see this program extended to rural parts of town,” he said.