The size of the county’s MCRide program might grow as the county’s transportation division has been discussing expanding the dial-a-ride program with other municipalities.
The McHenry County Department of Transportation has talked with Cary, Lakemoor, Johnsburg, Harvard and Marengo, as well as Grafton, Algonquin, Nunda, Riley and Marengo townships, about joining MCRide.
During a presentation to Cary Village Board members, county Transportation Planner Scott Hennings said there is a high demand for public transit in the county, especially the southeastern portion.
Hennings said the county is gauging interest and seeking memorandums of understanding from communities, so it knows how many buses it will need when it negotiates with Pace Suburban Bus service.
“We need to tell them who is interested in joining MCRide next year,” Hennings said.
It would cost townships $6,000 a year to join. McHenry DOT is looking for municipalities to pay $2 per resident per year, to help run the program.
The $2 per capita is about what Woodstock, Crystal Lake and McHenry have been contributing to the dial-a-ride program, Hennings said.
“We think this cost-sharing formula is good for the cities because it allows you to budget and know you’re not going to go above that,” he said.
MCRide is a service provided by the participating municipalities, the county and the Pace Suburban Bus service.
It was created when the dial-a-ride programs for McHenry, Crystal Lake and Woodstock were combined into one service that allowed riders to travel to and from those communities. The previous dial-a-ride programs stayed within the community. The program also now includes the unincorporated areas of Greenwood, Dorr and McHenry townships for seniors and people with disabilities.
Lakewood joined MCRide this month.
Huntley on Thursday committed to joining the program, which is expected to cost the village $38,542 a year. Huntley also has a $10,000 commitment from Grafton Township for the program.
In Marengo, the City Council committed last week to joining MCRide, starting in the spring of next year. The move allows residents to ride public buses longer and farther to areas such as Crystal Lake and Woodstock than what’s allowed under the city’s current Dial-a-Ride service with Pace.
Currently the bus service in Marengo stays within the Marengo-Union area.
The expanded service means Marengo will pay at most $27,296 a year to use MCRide, roughly $5,000 more than the city’s contribution for Dial-a-Ride. With the commitment on Monday, aldermen now will have to approve a formal contract outlining specific service details later this year.
If the county receives additional grants for the program, the costs for municipalities also might be reduced.
“It makes sense to coordinate these different services,” Hennings said. “That’s our justification for asking whether these communities are interested.”
Riders reserve a pickup a day ahead, or two hours in advance if calling on the same day.
It’s $2 for the first five miles ($1 for seniors or people with disabilities), and 25 cents for each additional mile.
The service runs from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.