On July 18, 2011, DART First State (DART) began the first scheduled bus service to the historic city in four decades. The existing DART Bus Route 25 is extending all of its 26 weekday trips to Delaware City. The service provides travel between Delaware City and downtown Wilmington. The bus route operates weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The Delaware City bus route is a pilot service for one year made possible through a grant from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Community Environmental Project Fund that invests in projects to improve communities that have been affected by environmental violations.
Without bus service to Delaware City residents had to rely on cars more than the average state resident. According to a 2009 study, 64 percent of city residents cited the lack of public transit as their top transportation related concern. The study concluded that introducing transit service to Delaware City will provide a much needed alternative to car travel, enhance social equity, improve regional transit interconnectivity, lessen traffic congestion and improve air quality.
DART executive director Stephen Kingsberry said, “We are very happy to partner with DNREC to secure these funds and make this service a reality. We are excited about serving the residents and businesses of Delaware City with this long-awaited public transit service. Welcome back, Delaware City!”
“Bus service is a win-win-win for the environment, economy and the residents of Delaware City," said DNREC secretary Collin O’Mara. “Not only does it improve access to job opportunities, both in and outside the city, but the service increases tourism and out-of-town visitors, benefiting city businesses and strengthening the economy. Riding the bus is one of the most cost effective ways to improve air quality, by reducing vehicle emissions that can be harmful to public health.”
Delaware City features ferry service to the nearby 1859 Fort Delaware civil war historic site.
The Delaware City bus route extension was recommended for project funding to DNREC secretary Collin O'Mara by the Delaware Community Involvement Advisory Council, an 11 member committee appointed by Delaware Governor Markell. Funding comes from the DNREC Community Environmental Project Fund that includes penalty monies collected from companies that have violated the state environmental protection laws. Funds support projects in affected communities that repair environmental damage and reduce risks to public health. Over the past seven years, the fund has invested almost $2 million in projects throughout the state.
Delaware City Mayor John Buchheit said, “The residents and merchants of Delaware City are very excited about the new bus service for a number of reasons. First, is the option it gives to our residents is to use public transportation to commute to work, and of course, the positive impact this has on our environment by eliminating cars from our highways. The merchants are excited about the opportunity this provides residents in other parts of New Castle County, that have no transportation, by giving them a means to visit the great attractions, shops and restaurants in our great city.”
The Delaware Transit Corporation, a subsidiary of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), operates DART First State. DART services include intercounty, fixed route and seasonal bus, Paratransit, and contracted SEPTA commuter trains.