State to restore some Rodney Square bus routes

Social activists have received 1,300 petitions against a plan to reroute Wilmington buses. (WHYY/Paul Parmalee)

Social activists have received 1,300 petitions against a plan to reroute Wilmington buses. (WHYY/Paul Parmalee)

The Delaware Department of Transportation is restoring some Rodney Square bus routes in downtown Wilmington following opposition from the community and civil rights leaders.

The Coalition to Keep Bus Service on Rodney Square, which includes members of the state NAACP, have been urging the state to restore thirteen bus routes that were shifted away from Rodney Square in December.

Prior to the change, the group received 1,300 signatures on a petition against the plan.

The change still kept 12 routes along Rodney Square, and other bus stops were available about a quarter mile away. However, activists argued the changes violate civil rights codes by eliminating the mobility of people of color, low income and elderly bus riders.

After listening to public comment at community conversations this year, DART has decided to restore stops on three of its routes—2, 6 and 28—beginning Sunday.

In a statement, Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware, said; “the success of our state depends in large part on the success of Wilmington. Rodney Square, which was never intended to serve as a transit hub, can and should be the crown jewel of Wilmington. We must continue the work to revitalize the Square as a historic public park. We’re continuing to make improvements to our transit system that balance the needs of riders and those who use Rodney Square.”

The coalition’s John Flaherty  had mixed reviews on the decision. “Restoring three outbound stops to Rodney Square is a good first step, small as it may be, in restoring the finest transit hub in the country.” Flaherty wasn’t sold on the decision to have the 2, 6 and 28 only depart Rodney Square, but not arrive at the center city stops. “[It makes] no sense to me to be able to leave Rodney Square on dart, but you can’t when you come into town,” Flaherty said.

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