Within the Peoria-Pekin Urbanized Area, only three municipalities belong to the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (GPMTD), and only two other communities contract with GPMTD to provide fixed route and complementary paratransit service for their citizens. This leaves a large, population-dense geographic space, the Grey Area, where it is questionable if an individual can travel independently for their basic needs and services within the region via transit. In the past, at least part of this Grey Area received service through urban transit formula grants such as FTA Section 5316 and 5317 (New Freedom and Job Access and Reverse Commute, respectively). Those federal programs have been discontinued, and no other solution has emerged. The most recent Illinois Region 5 Human Services Transportation Plan update recommended further study into long-term, fiscally constrained mobility solutions to address this transit desert.
Lochmueller Group, Inc. (Lochmueller) worked with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the mobility needs and range of potential solutions specific to this geographic area. This need-based service expansion and funding analysis was necessary to prioritize very limited transit operations funding and costly staff time spent on service expansion discussions with communities.
Lochmueller evaluated the existing services and created a service area profile to determine the areas and individuals of highest need for mobility solutions. Working closely with input from the project team and community stakeholders, Lochmueller identified service solutions for those targeted groups, which includes mobility-limited older adults for whom service needs continue to expand. Lochmueller consulted with agency experts and service providers to determine appropriate transit solutions that met the needs of these users. Relying on industry best practices, the team calculated the transit demand for the Grey Area and used that data to inform appropriate service opportunities and funding solutions.
Lochmueller prepared a document to inform local, regional, and state formula funding priorities in both the capital and operating realms. The report aimed not only to provide technical guidance, but to build regional consensus to pursue and implement a meaningful and sustainable solution.