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Group calls for more bus service in Sussex County

Wilmington is not the only place in Delaware where advocacy groups are calling for more bus service.

The League of Women Voters of Sussex County wrote a letter to DelDOT Sec. Jennifer Cohan last week calling transit in Sussex County inadequate.


New Castle County has over 40 DART bus routes, and Kent County has roughly a dozen. As of this fall, Sussex will have eight year-round routes, plus three flex and three seasonal routes.

Sue Claire Harper, co-chair of the League of Women Voters of Sussex County’s (LWVSC) Land Use Committee, sees expansion of public transportation in the County as part of economic development.

“Making workforce housing in the middle and western part of the county far more attractive to a developer and the people wanting to move there, if that demographic was served by public transportation,” she said.

Delaware Transit Corporation chief John Sisson says the agency’s formula to evaluate which areas of the state could support bus routes does consider transit-dependency.

“It’s looking at density, and it’s looking at jobs per acre. It’s looking at having access to cars in the household,” he said.

Harper calls basing transit routes on density, jobs and ridership “the proverbial chicken and egg dilemma.”


Sisson says the sparseness of Sussex’s public transit system comes down to how spread out much of the county is.

“A lot of our services out there are truly just for people who have [transit] dependency. But you really do need to have some level of density or some common area, whether it’s going to a major employer or going to a household area,” he said. “It’s just not feasible to have bus routes just for a couple people here and there.”

Sisson adds Sussex County routes are among the worst performing.

Though Sussex has far fewer bus routes than New Castle County, its ridership per mile of route is roughly 1/10 of what it is in the northernmost County.

But the LWVSC’s complaints were not limited to routes.  They also pointed to the scarceness of bus shelters. Sussex has only 17 shelters, compared to New Castle County’s 244.

As of this fall, two seasonal routes in Sussex County—Route 201 and 204—are continuing year-round. Route 210 in Sussex, which circulates around Milford to connect to the intercounty routes, started this past May. 


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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