The Delaware Transit Corporation launched its new Flex Route service on Nov. 10 to better meet the community's transportation needs.

The Delaware Transit Corporation (DART) launched its new Flex Route service on Nov. 10 in an effort to better meet the community’s transportation needs.

And so far, the new service has been a hit, with more than 200 riders and 28 reservations in its first week of operation, according to DART spokeswoman Julie Theyerl.

“That’s huge,” she said.

The new Flex service operates as something of a hybrid between DART’s fixed route buses, which travel to bus stops on a regular schedule, and paratransit buses that provide door-to-door transportation to qualified riders through reservations made 24 hours in advance.

“[The Flex Route bus] goes to regular bus stops and has a schedule, but it also has time built into the schedule to go off route and pick people up,” Theyerl explained.

The Flex Route bus can deviate up to one mile off of its set route to pick up riders. It operates Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and riders can call to make a reservation as early as two days or as late as two hours in advance of their desired pick-up time. There are even established Flag Zones along designated roads where customers can wave down a bus.

There are currently three Flex Routes being piloted in Sussex County: the 901 Route around Georgetown, the 902 Route between Georgetown and Millsboro and the 903 Route around Seaford.

“We have gotten tons of requests for service to Millsboro,” Theyerl said. “And also we looked at high concentrations of paratransit trips, as well as where riders were going from town to town. [The Georgetown, Millsboro and Seaford] areas were the most concentrated. We wanted to give the general public more options, as well as paratransit customers more options because it offers more independence and flexibility. It’s ideal because it is available to anyone.”

Georgetown resident Thomas Foreman said that the Flex Route service has made his daily commute to Delaware Technical Community College’s Owens Campus much easier.

“It’s helpful,” the computer science student said. “I used to have to walk all the way to the bus stop in Georgetown to get a bus and then walk all the way to the other side of Del Tech when it dropped me off.”

While the Flex Routes are currently available in only a few areas, DART may consider adding more in the future.

“If it works out and is successful, we will look into applying it to other area,” Thereyl said. “And once we can evaluate where all of the off-route deviations are coming from, we can even see if it warrants a fixed route to operate non-stop. It allows us to see where the demand is coming from.”

Base fare to catch the Flex service bus at its designation stops is currently free, while an off-route deviation costs $1. On Jan. 19, that base fare will increase to $1.75 and the off-route option will be an additional $1 to the base fare. Paratransit customers will have a reduced base of fare of 70 cents.