Photo: Pace Director Thomas Marcucci, Executive Director Melinda Metzger, Director Linda Soto, Director Roger Claar, Chairman Rick Kwasneski, Director David Guerin, Director Terrance Carr, and Director Jeffery Schielke with Pace’s first electric bus.
Alternative first/last mile service initiatives also announced at May Board of Directors meeting
At their meeting yesterday, Pace’s Board of Directors received a tour of Pace’s first electric bus, a leased GILLIG Battery Electric Bus. “I am pleased to report that Pace has officially entered into the era of electrification,” said Executive Director Melinda Metzger. “With the progress we are making on our [fleet and] facilities transition plan, the arrival of this bus could not have come at a better time.”
Metzger went on to explain that the bus will allow staff to gain operational and maintenance experience and will also allow the agency to conduct bus familiarization training with fire departments. As the agency moves towards a more sustainable transportation system and its goal of a zero-emission fleet by 2040, Metzger also shared that the installation of electric charging stations at Pace facilities and park-n-rides had begun with Pace’s headquarters receiving the first station this week.
Two new alternative service options were also announced at the meeting. VanGo is a new vanpool initiative aimed at increasing first/last-mile options for commuters. Scheduled to launch in June in Lake County, VanGo is a first-of-its-kind vanshare program that will allow commuters to reserve Pace-owned vans parked at Metra stations via remote access. Qualified participants will be able to use the vehicle to travel to worksites in the defined geographic zone. This new option will address the need for first/last mile connections where the market doesn’t warrant traditional bus service due to new and variable work schedules.
If successful, the VanGo may be expanded to other areas in the coming year. “But for Covid and less people going into work, we wouldn’t have the availability to utilize these vans,” said Chairman Rick Kwasneski. “These are vans that we already have, so it’s a great idea.” Kwasneski noted that Metra has been supportive of the idea and is working with Pace to designate parking spots at Metra stations for the vehicles.
VanGo will be a reservation-based vanpool service option that registered passengers can book online or call to reserve at least one day in advance or on Fridays for the weekend and Monday. Service will be available between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. for trips starting and ending in the designated service area. Drivers must be at least 23 years old, have a valid driver’s license, a good driving record, must pass a physical and drug test, and must complete an online training class.
A new pilot program in DuPage County will nearly double the service area of the Naperville-Aurora On Demand, one of ten reservation-based, shared-ride services operating designated areas throughout the suburban region. This service expansion, scheduled to launch June 6, 2022, will provide a flexible, all-day service option on weekdays between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. for those travelling within the designated service area and connecting to/from Metra’s Route 59 and Naperville BNSF Line stations.