Grey Area Mobility Enhancement & Expansion Study

Peoria, Illinois
Tri-County Regional Planning Commission
Service Line:
Traffic Engineering & Planning

Our Grey Area Mobility Enhancement & Expansion Study for the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC) in Peoria, IL received a Special Achievement Award in ACEC Illinois’ Engineering Excellence Awards!

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.

This plan was an innovative and insightful look into how new and emerging trends in microtransit can bring more equity, and consequently more opportunities, to transportation and the communities. Lochmueller Group worked with the TCRPC to conduct a comprehensive review of the area’s mobility solutions. This need-based service expansion and funding analysis was necessary to prioritize the restrictive 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. Multiple community engagement strategies were employed during the planning process to create a meaningful dialogue with area residents and stakeholders and to deliver a final study that reflected the needs, values, and aspirations of the community. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project team pivoted to digital engagement opportunities to comply with public health recommendations, which opened new doors to public participation by bringing community workshops to people’s homes, businesses, and mobile phones. 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.

As a result of the study, and specifically the funding opportunities available, the TCRPC had clear direction and strategy to immediately seek funding for a pilot. Per Eric Miller, TCRPC Executive Director: “Even through the pandemic, Lochmueller was able to put together a cohesive study to culminate in a final document that was practical and usable as a legitimate jumping-off point for future projects. In fact, Tri-County was able to apply to fund a transit project to benefit a community listed in the Grey Area study. This transit pilot project is set to begin in August.” With the help of strategic investments in transit, this project positioned the community for a stronger, more resilient, and equitable future by improving the quality of life and health for thousands of residents in the Grey Area and easing congestion and parking demand throughout the Region.

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