June 27 start for Uber/Lyft in place of Bloomington bus night runs, Aug. 15 start for new fixed routes

Bloomington Transit’s (BT’s) new optimized bus routes will finally debut on Aug. 15 this year.

That’s the result of BT board action at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The routes were supposed to roll out two years ago, in fall 2020, but that launch date was delayed until this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the new routes to be implemented later this fall will be a lot different from those recommended by BT’s consultant three years ago.

Also getting a mention at Tuesday’s board meeting was the June 27 launch of subsidized rides on Uber or Lyft  as a replacement for night service (9 p.m. to midnight) on several BT fixed routes. The board had previously approved the service change. The only question had been the start date.

Under terms of the late-night service, which is branded as “BT Late Night,” passengers pay the usual $1 fare, with the difference, up to $19, paid by BT. Rides have to start and end inside a prescribed area of the city, which does not include chunks of the Indiana University campus, because fixed route bus service will continue for those parts of town.

The Uber/Lyft subsidized service for late evening hours was originally supposed to start on May 9, right after Indiana University’s spring semester ended. But details related to the technology platform took longer than expected to iron out.

At its Tuesday meeting, BT’s five-member board touched on several other familiar topics. Continue reading “June 27 start for Uber/Lyft in place of Bloomington bus night runs, Aug. 15 start for new fixed routes”

BT Roundup: mid-June for Uber/Lyft night runs, new bus routes in August, strategic plan contract OK’d, 8 new electric buses requested, still 14 drivers short

Bloomington Transit (BT) is confronting several short-term challenges even as it looks ahead to a future flush with new revenue.

The new revenue will come from the city of Bloomington’s planned allocation to BT using some of extra money from the local income tax increase that was enacted by the city council two weeks ago.

The range of short- and long-term issues was evident at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the BT board.
Continue reading “BT Roundup: mid-June for Uber/Lyft night runs, new bus routes in August, strategic plan contract OK’d, 8 new electric buses requested, still 14 drivers short”

Transit notebook: Snowstorm debrief, deal OK’d with IU, ridership still down, strategic plan moves forward

Bloomington Transit drivers got some recognition from general manager John Connell at the five-member board’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday night.

About the performance of drivers during the snowstorm and its aftermath on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, Connell said, “I think our drivers did an incredible job. They had the toughest challenge.”

The debriefing on how things went during the snow was one of several topics BT staff reported to the board at their meeting.

One of the main business items appearing on the agenda was the annual financial agreement with Indiana University to allow affiliates of the school—students, faculty and staff—to board buses without paying a fare. That had been put off from the previous month’s meeting, because IU had not yet agreed to terms.

The agreement approved by BT’s board on Tuesday night reflects a 2.5% increase—which is half the 5-percent increase that BT was looking for from IU.

In pre-pandemic times, about 70 percent of ridership came from IU affiliates.

Ridership on fixed routes is still down compared to pre-pandemic times. For January this year, the 152,000 fixed route rides were three times the number given in January 2021, but about half the number in January 2020. That was was the next-to-last month before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt. Continue reading “Transit notebook: Snowstorm debrief, deal OK’d with IU, ridership still down, strategic plan moves forward”

Bloomington public buses skipping scheduled runs due to driver shortage

On Monday morning, Bloomington Transit’s Twitter feed announced that service along the Route 6 Limited and the Route 9 Limited would be cut during specific times during the day.

A tweet sent at 8:02 a.m. said, “There will be no 6 Limited this morning and no 9 Limited this evening. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

The first tweet was followed by another one at 8:26 a.m. clarifying the times when those routes would be curtailed: “The 6 Limited will resume at 1:10 today. 9 Limited will end at 2:30.”

BT has confirmed to The B Square the connection between the skipped routes on Monday and BT’s current driver shortage.

Based on discussion at the BT board’s most recent meeting, Bloomington’s regular public bus staffing is short 12 drivers. Continue reading “Bloomington public buses skipping scheduled runs due to driver shortage”