Indiana Daily Student

Bloomington Transit Center improving riders' experience

The Bloomington Transit Center is newly opened and into its first few weeks of operation.
The Bloomington Transit Center is newly opened and into its first few weeks of operation.

Bloomington resident Lucy Jules takes a Bloomington Transit bus to and from work every day. Until August, she was forced to weather the elements, sitting in the secondhand smoke of her fellow passengers while waiting for the bus to arrive.

With the opening of the city’s new Transit Center, that problem has gone away, she said.

“Now, it’s bigger, it’s a nicer place,” Jules said. “I like it. It’s different. The thing I like the most is that people don’t have to smoke around here. They can go over there and do it. I appreciate that.”

Located on the corner of Third Street and Walnut Street, the Transit Center replaced Bloomington Transit’s 27-year-old passenger transfer hub when it opened Aug. 18.

Bloomington Transit General Manager Lew May said the building has received high praise from passengers and community members since its opening.

“The experience that we’ve heard from the public is overwhelmingly positive in terms of the new downtown Transit Center,” May said. “All the new amenities that are available to the public, all the creature comforts that are there, it’s been overwhelmingly, resoundingly positive.”

When the old station was built in 1987, fewer than a million people per year rode Bloomington city buses. Now, ridership is estimated at 3.5 million riders a year.

May said that while the new building has received high praise, he is doubtful it will increase the city’s ridership further. With the building open for just more than two weeks, data is not yet available to determine a change in ridership figures.

“I don’t know that we’re going to see any change, to be honest,” May said. “It’s too early to tell from a ridership perspective. That’s something that will take a longer period of time to measure. A couple of weeks isn’t going to give us much to go on there.”

The new center cost $9.5 million to build, May said.

The money came from “a combination of federal funds, primarily federal funds, but Bloomington Transit funds, as well,” he said.

While not yet entirely finished, the building features a larger indoor waiting area for passengers, wireless Internet connection points inside and a more organized system for displaying bus routes and schedules. Still to come are LED display boards to show real-time bus locations.

While May said public comments on the center have been positive in nearly all areas, two features have become the most popular among riders.

“The two features that people like the most are having air conditioning in the passenger waiting area and having public restrooms available to the public,” he said. “I think we will definitely see an overall increase in satisfaction.”

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