Pace Suburban Bus is considering the elimination of a handful of routes, including Route 806 that goes through McHenry County.
Route 806 heads from Crystal Lake to Fox Lake, through McHenry and Johnsburg. Stops include those at Horizons, Pioneer Center for Human Services, Centegra Medical Center, McHenry High School West Campus, Walmart in Johnsburg and Fox Lake Town Center. The bus also stops at the Crystal Lake and Fox Lake Metra stations.
The service runs on weekday mornings and afternoons. Pace officials said the organization is targeting the route for elimination because it’s underperforming. Some local advocates are concerned the cancellation will have a adverse effect on county residents in need.
The co-CEO of Pioneer Center, Frank Samuel, said clients use the bus service. This nonprofit offers behavioral health services, as well as programs for people who have disabilities and those who are experiencing homelessness. With expanded service offerings on the horizon, the impact may grow in the future.
“We have some day program clients who take the bus,” Samuel said. “We are building the new homeless shelter so that will be an even bigger impact. People will need the bus route to get to and from services, jobs and job interviews.”
Pioneer Center operates a day program in McHenry and currently is in the process of opening a 24-7 homeless shelter in the city as well.
Pace looks at ridership, fare ratio and subsidies both per vehicle mile and per rider when considering performance standards, according to Pace documents.
In 2019, an average of about 20 people rode the route daily, down from a 2009 average of 51 people a day, Pace documents show. Pace would save around $152,673 annually if the service is cut, according to Pace documents.
The consideration comes now as Pace is discussing its 2020 budget plan.
“Our goal is not to remove services from people who need it,” said Maggie Daly Skogsbakken, chief communications officer with Pace. “We are aware McHenry County only has a couple services. We aren’t writing this in stone.”
The Pace board is expected to vote Nov. 13 on whether to eliminate the service. Daly Skogsbakken said that Pace is working with McHenry County planners to look at other options for residents who need access to public transportation in “a diverse landscape.”
“It’s really rural,” she said. “We are covering a lot of miles. We need to look at other options. The fixed route bus model is just not working.”
Those options could include community partnerships or more “on demand, curb to curb” transportation services, she said.
McHenry County offers “MCRide,” a dial-a-ride shared ride service for residents who need transportation.