Ridership in 2019 was a smidgen higher in 2019 compared to 2018, the first time ridership has been up since 2014.
BT general manager Lew May explains BT staff recommendations for adjustments to the optimization-study recommended new routes. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)
Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the Bloomington Transit (BT) board delivered a bright spot of news. The 3.16 million rides taken on fixed route buses in 2019 reflect a 1.75-percent increase over the total from 2018.
Chart of Bloomington Transit budget breakdown for the last eight years, and next year’s proposed 20202 budget.
Lew May, Bloomington Transit’s general manager. On Aug. 20, May presented his 21st budget to Bloomington’s city council. “It’s been a great ride at Bloomington Transit.” (Dave Askins/Beaon)
Possible federal grants are a key part of the Bloomington Transit 2020 budget presented to the city council on Tuesday by the public transit agency’s general manager, Lew May. Councilmembers appeared receptive to the planned $4 million in capital expenditures to acquire four more alternative-fuel buses.
BT is also applying for a federal grant to fund a shared-ride microtransit pilot program to take up the slack on certain routes after fixed-route service ends for the day.
Council president Dave Rollo suggested looking beyond traditional federal funding sources. Among the local funding sources he suggested were tax increment finance funds and local income taxes.
A budget increase of $87,000 to cover an outside contract to add a security officer at BT’s downtown transit station drew scrutiny from councilmembers.
As it did on Monday, which was the first day of a week’s worth of departmental budget hearings, climate change drove a lot of the council’s commentary. Councilmembers wanted BT to consider adding solar panels to a new roof for the BT facility on Grimes Lane, which is currently budgeted for $363,250.
Before the unanimous straw vote was taken by councilmembers in support of the proposed budget, Dave Rollo said, “We are running out of time. And we need to direct capital to Bloomington Transit, if we’re going to be serious about climate—it’s got to be part of the strategy.”
The council’s vote to adopt the budget is scheduled for Oct. 10 after getting a first reading on Sept. 25.