Riders of Bloomington Transit’s Route 2 West will notice some changes at the start of 2022.
The basic geography covered by the route will stay the same. It starts at the downtown transit center, heads a bit north, then makes a loop around the northwest part of town including the Bloomington Housing Authority’s Crestmont Community. The loop is a kind of box, bounded roughly by College Avenue, 17th Street, Crescent Road, and 11th Street.
The new configuration will trim off a north-south segment from the east side of the loop. That means the new Route 2 West won’t include service along Morton Street or College Avenue. The eastern edge of the loop will instead be formed by Rogers Street.
Another significant change is the removal of the segment that leaves the outer box of the loop defined by 17th Street, heads down Lindbergh Drive, jogs over on 15th Street, down Illinois Street, right past the Crestmont Community, over on 13th and eventually back up to 17th Street.
The new configuration still loops the bus inside the box, but from the southern 11th Street side. It will head up Illinois Street to 12th Street, past the Crestmont Community, north on Monroe Street, over on 14th Street, and back down Blair Avenue to 11th Street.
The new loop will run counterclockwise instead of clockwise, which has implications for the placement of bus stops—on one side of the road or the other. Some new stops and shelters will be added. Others will be removed.
The counterclockwise direction means that stops need to be added to the north side of 17th Street. Stops on the south side of 17th Street—like the one at Lismore Drive near the northwest corner of the Route 2 West loop—will be removed.
The northwest corner is another tweak to the basic Route 2 West loop. Instead of heading along 17th Street all the way to Crescent Road, the bus will turn down Lismore Drive, then head over on Marquis Drive to Crescent Road. That notch, into the northwest corner of the Route 2 West loop, is meant to serve residents of the new affordable housing development called Union at Crescent.
The early-2022 changes to Route 2 West come as part of systemwide changes to most routes, which are now expected to be rolled out in late summer of 2022. BT is accepting additional feedback on the Route 2 West configuration through Nov. 15.
BT is starting the revised version of Route 2 West in early 2022, ahead of the rest, because Route 2 West struggles to complete its runs on time. The changes to the route are meant to help improve on-time performance.
On-time performance is key for passengers who are trying to make a transfer at the downtown transit center. According to BT planning and special projects manager Zac Hunec, if they get a call from a late-arriving bus, drivers will hold their departing bus for up to three minutes to allow a passenger to make a connection. But beyond that, the cascading impact of buses lagging behind scheduled times would be too great.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the amount of traffic out on the roads diminished, reducing somewhat the pressure to implement the changes to Route 2 West. So changes to Route 2 West, along with the other routes in the system, were delayed from the planned implementation in August 2020, after the BT board approved them in April 2020.
Hunec told BT board members a couple of weeks ago, at their Oct. 19 meeting, that the urgency now to get the changes implemented for Route 2 West was driven by the return of traffic to pre-pandemic levels.
The public meetings and review by BT’s 5-member board of the new route configurations were conducted starting in summer 2019, after BT received recommendations from its consultant on the project, Foursquare ITP. The goal of the route revision project is to optimize public bus service to increase ridership.