By Betsy Finklea
Don Strickland, Executive Director of PDRTA (Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority), appeared before the Dillon City Council at their March meeting to give an update on the transit service in Dillon County and their future plans.
Strickland said that ridership is up 33 percent when comparing February 2022 to February 2023. He said they are seeing increases across the system.
The Dillon Express, which runs around the City of Dillon, averages 1,000 trips a month and is doing extremely well. The Connect Express, which serves Latta, Little Rock, and Hamer averages about 300 trips per month. They offer Demand-Response service in Lake View.
Harbor Freight averaged about 500 trips this past month with people going to and from work.
This will continue to grow as they are offering some second shift transit service. He said Harbor Freight wants more service and wants to expand the reach to other counties.
The Demand-Response Service averages over 100 trips a month with people coming mainly to the City of Dillon for grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, etc. People have to call 24 hours ahead of time to schedule this service.
There were 28,000 trips for the year in the Dillon County transit system.
Approximately 44 percent of the people who step on a PDRTA bus across the system is going to work. This was about 400,000 trips last year.
They are also starting a new park and ride program where employees from other counties can park somewhere, pick up a van driven by an employee with a good driving record, and go to their work location.
Strickland said PDRTA receives 80 percent federal funding to do capital projects. He said they are at the point where they need to put up physical bus stops. The service is growing, and when this is done, the service will increase about 25 percent. He said everywhere they go and put in bus stops that people become more familiar with the service and view it as more of a transit service. He hopes for the bus stops to start going up in the next 90 days with a finish in the installation in the summer. They would also like to look at putting up bus shelters. He said they are currently in discussions with McLeod, who is interested in this.
He said that PDRTA won the state Transit Provider of the Year award.
He also noted that they would be extending their hours on the days of the Farmers Markets to provide transportation to the market.
He told the city about transit service that was available by official request on days of events such as Celebrate Main Street.
By Betsy Finklea