Bloomington Transit will receive at least $3.8 million a year for the next five years from the city of Bloomington, under an interlocal agreement approved by BT’s five-member board at its final meeting of the year, on Dec. 20.
The agreement still needs to win approval from Bloomington’s city council.
The deal is expected to appear on a city council meeting agenda sometime in January, based on remarks from BT general manager John Connell at last week’s board meeting.
The big initiative that the money is supposed to help fund is an east-west crosstown express route.
Some other specific initiatives that the money is supposed to pay for include: implementation of Sunday service in the first quarter of 2023; enhancement of the paratransit microtransit services; increasing frequency of weekday service; and development of a ridership subsidy program.
But Bloomington residents could still take rides using the public transportation system—from 9 a.m. to midnight—through a program that Bloomington Transit is marketing as BT Late Nite.
For areas of the city within a quarter mile of those early-ending routes, BT Late Nite now offers passengers who have a smartphone the option of taking rides using Uber or Lyft—for just the regular $1 fare. BT Late Nite operates Monday through Friday.
The difference between the actual cost of the ride on Uber/Lyft and the $1 fare paid by the passenger is covered by BT. Both ride hailing companies are handling the BT portion of the fare through a voucher system.
Highlights include: the consolidation of Routes 1 South and 7 Express into a single route to be called Route 7; and the merging of Route 3 East, Route 8 Local, Route 9 Campus, and Route 10 Hospital into a single route to be called Route 90.
The Route 90 would operate on a bidirectional loop, with 20-minute frequency each way. The loop would encompass downtown, the Indiana University campus, and some of the east side down to the College Mall area.
Subject to final board approval, those route changes would be implemented in August of this year.
A pilot project that could be rolled out earlier is the replacement of the late-night service on some routes with “microtransit.” That means passengers could take an Uber/Lyft style ride for the standard $1 fare, with the remaining cost, up to $15, to be covered by Bloomington Transit.