Public bus notebook: Bloomington Transit orders 4 more electric buses, expects delivery in late 2024

Four more battery electric buses have been ordered by Bloomington Transit (BT) with a total cost of $4.5 million.

Approval of the bus order came at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of BT’s five-member board.

BT general manager John Connell told the board that the expected delivery of the vehicles, to be manufactured by GILLIG, is at least a year and a half away—sometime in the fourth quarter of 2024. That makes for a total of 16 electric buses that are on order by BT.

It’s part of BT’s plan to convert its entire fleet of 40 fixed-route buses to battery electric vehicles by 2050. BT is using matching federal funds as well as money from the increase in Bloomington’s local income tax to pay for the electric vehicles.

Also at the board’s Tuesday meeting, human resources manager Brenda Underwood briefed the board on the addition of one fixed route driver, reducing the number of vacant driver positions to four. At one point in 2021, there were 12 vacant driver positions.

Ridership on Bloomington public buses continues to show signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but numbers are still way off from their pre-pandemic levels.

The roughly 217,000 rides in March of 2023 reflect a 24 percent increase over the 174,000 rides given in March of 2022. But this year’s figures for March are still just around 79 percent of the most recent pre-pandemic year figures for March, in  2019, when 275,00 rides were given.