City council budget hearing draws questions for Bloomington Transit on fare-free rides, geographic expansion

At Tuesday’s hearing of Bloomington Transit’s proposed 2022 budget in front of the city council, BT’s general manager, Lew May, fielded a question he’s heard many years before, including last year.

Has BT considered making the public bus service fare free?

A new question this year: How is BT thinking about providing service in the context of Bloomington’s annexation proposal?

May’s answer on the fare-free question was the same as it has been before: Yes, but that would depend on identifying a source of funding to make up the revenue shortfall.

Fares make up a relatively small percentage of BT’s revenue budget, which totals about $15 million in 2022.

But there would still be around $600,000 in annual fares to cover, that normally is paid by regular rank-and-file resident passengers.

Also potentially in the mix would be a roughly $1-million annual contribution made by Indiana University to allow faculty, students and staff to board without paying a fare. Continue reading “City council budget hearing draws questions for Bloomington Transit on fare-free rides, geographic expansion”

Bloomington public bus drivers needed, Route 8 could see “microtransit” pilot

Bloomington Transit (BT) has a critical need for more drivers in the fall, when Indiana University’s normal fall semester starts.

And fixed-route service on Route 8 could see a one-year experimental replacement in September—with a combination of service provided through BT by Uber and Lyft.

Those were two takeaways from the Bloomington Transit board’s Tuesday night meeting.

The topics mean some significant work for the board and staff in the coming months, in addition to items already on their plates.

The board will need to make a decision on replacing 20-year veteran general manager Lew May, whose retirement is anticipated for August of this year. And the current collective bargaining agreement with the bus drivers union goes just through the end of the year, so it needs to be re-negotiated.

The BT board’s in-person Tuesday meeting was held in a way that offered access via the Zoom video conferencing platform.

All five board members attended in person. From a tech perspective, the hybrid setup appeared to work glitch-free. Continue reading “Bloomington public bus drivers needed, Route 8 could see “microtransit” pilot”