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”

Bloomington Transit set for Uber/Lyft pilot in May, to send city council memo on local income tax increase

On Tuesday night, the five-member Bloomington Transit (BT) board voted unanimously to go ahead with a pilot program starting in early May that will use Uber or Lyft—with a subsidy for the rides taken under BT’s banner—to replace late night service on some existing routes.

The board also discussed a proposal by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton to increase the local income tax paid by all Monroe County residents and to use some of Bloomington’s share of the additional revenue to fund new BT transportation initiatives.

The tax package includes around $5 million in public transportation projects, including a new east-west route with 15-minute frequency.

Board members expressed concern that the funding for the kind of transportation proposals described in the tax package would require some kind of long-term commitment by the city of Bloomington to BT. A memo with that message is supposed to be forwarded to the city council before Wednesday night’s city council meeting.

On Wednesday (April 20), the city council could take a final vote on the 0.855-point tax increase, which would raise the overall local income tax to a total of 2.2 percent.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, BT announced that masks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus would no longer be required on BT buses. That was the same approach that most transit providers seem to have taken after a federal judge struck down US President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring mask wearing. [text of US District Court Middle District of Florida ruling] Continue reading “Bloomington Transit set for Uber/Lyft pilot in May, to send city council memo on local income tax increase”