Bloomington public bus notebook: Uber-Lyft late night continues, paratransit to get same-day service

Now set to continue, but with a few tweaks, is pilot program started last year by Bloomington Transit (BT), to replace late night service on some routes—with vouchers that can be used on Uber or Lyft.

The Uber-Lyft option is branded as BT Late Nite.

The approach of using transportation network companies (TNCs) as a replacement for running 40-foot buses on fixed routes is known in the public transportation industry as “microtransit.”

The geographic area served by BT Late Nite includes the parts of town served by routes that had their late evening service discontinued last year.

BT general manager John Connell briefed the board on program changes at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.

For the pilot program, BT Late Nite passengers paid the same $1 fare that fixed route passengers do. For the continuation of BT Late Nite, Connell said, passengers will pay $2, because BT considers it a “premium” service. That’s because the Uber and Lyft service goes from a passenger’s departure point to their destination, not just from bus stop to bus stop. Continue reading “Bloomington public bus notebook: Uber-Lyft late night continues, paratransit to get same-day service”

Public bus notebook: ‘Dumb’ fare boxes could be in Bloomington Transit’s future

When passengers pay cash for the $1 fare in order to board one of Bloomington Transit’s 42 fixed-route buses, they put the money into a CENTSaBILL farebox.

The chart shows the number of trips taken on fixed-route buses, which does not include BT Access, which is the paratransit service.

The farebox counts the coins or validates the dollar bill, which makes it in some sense “smart.”

But the current fareboxes are obsolete and no longer supported. One of the basic approaches to fare collection now being considered by BT is to use “dumb fareboxes”—which would serve as a receptacle for the money, but wouldn’t validate the amount.

The new “mobile ticketing” approach would focus  technology on validating passes and providing passengers with some additional options for buying tickets and passes.

BT’s five-member board voted unanimously at its Tuesday meeting last week, to ask Left Turn Right Turn, which is BT’s fare collection consultant, to forge ahead with development of a request for proposals from vendors in the mobile ticketing market.

If the BT board eventually awards a contract to a mobile ticketing vendor, that would mean passengers dropping cash fares into a “dumb” farebox.

The board’s vote came after a presentation from Left Turn Right Turn’s Yuval Grinspun, and Philippe Gervaise with Niti Systems Consultants, who joined the BT board meeting on a Zoom video conferencing interface. Continue reading “Public bus notebook: ‘Dumb’ fare boxes could be in Bloomington Transit’s future”

Bloomington’s public transit looks to COVID-19 recovery in 2021

On Wednesday night, Bloomington Transit general manager Lew May presented his 22nd annual budget to Bloomington’s city council.

It was a part of the four-day series of 2021 budget presentations heard by the council this week. The council won’t see a final version of the budget until late September and won’t take a vote on it until October.

A highlight of BT’s 2021 budget is the way it maintains a course set in 2020, for the acquisition of electric buses. Three more are budgeted for next year. They show up in the capital expenditure breakdown of the $14.5 million total budget.

The planned 2021 capital expenditures are $5.2 million, which is about 8 percent more than last year’s $4.8 million. Compared to 2019, the 2020 capital expense figure was nearly double. Continue reading “Bloomington’s public transit looks to COVID-19 recovery in 2021”