Bloomington Transit fixed route ridership numbers.
County councilor Trent Deckard and county commissioner Julie Thomas address the Ellettsville town council. (Nov. 27, 2023)
Ellettsville town council president William Ellis (Nov. 27, 2023)
Bloomington Transit general manager John Connell with BT board president James McLary in the background. (Nov. 28, 2023)
Monroe County council meeting (Nov. 28, 2023)
The actual solution to a transit problem outside Bloomington boundaries might not turn out to be the one that was anticipated by the city council in the first half of August.
That’s when Bloomington’s city council revised local law to allow Bloomington Transit (BT) to operate anywhere in Monroe County, not just inside city limits.
There were independent reasons for expanding BT’s service area.
But it was believed that the legal authority for BT to run service outside the city boundaries would solve a dilemma caused by a recent change in an INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) enforcement policy. The change to enforcement affects a long-time regulation on federal funds (Section 5311) for rural transit agencies like Area 10’s Rural Transit.
The basic idea was that BT would start filling in for about 8,000 trips a year that Rural Transit will be prohibited from making, beginning on Jan. 1, 2024.
In federal transit terms, the extra trips that BT was expected to start covering would start and end inside the “urban area” of Monroe County—but would not be entirely contained within the city. (For a trip with origin and destination both inside the city, Bloomington Transit already provides service.)
One example of such a trip would be from Ellettsville to Walmart on Bloomington’s west side. Another such trip is from Ellettsville to anywhere inside the city limits—like the former location of the IU Health hospital at 2nd and Rogers streets. Trips starting and ending inside Ellettsville are also examples.
It seemed like the only question that needed to be answered by the end of this year was: How much would Monroe County government and the town of Ellettsville pay Bloomington Transit for the service?
But now, it looks like Rural Transit might have found a way around the Section 5311 ban against urban-to-urban trips. And the cost for Rural Transit’s proposal is about 70 percent of BT’s proposal.
So a likely scenario is that Rural Transit will, at least for the next year, continue to provide the same urban-to-urban service that it has in the past. Continue reading “Rural Transit riders might see no change, if parallel service is run to get around urban-to-urban trip ban”