Bloomington City Council unanimously voted to expand Bloomington Transit services to Ellettsville and other parts of Monroe County at their meeting last week.
The Bloomington Transit Board of Directors requested that the city council consider expanding their transportation service throughout Monroe County in July. The city council authorized the request to expand past the city’s limits so long as the expansion does not go beyond the boundaries of Monroe County.
If the expansion is approved by Mayor Hamilton, Bloomington Transit’s Board of Directors will still determine rates, routes, hours and standards of service under Indiana Code 36-9-4-35.1.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, Rural Transit will not be able to serve certain parts of Monroe County because the 2020 Census reestablished what the Federal Transit Administration considers an urbanized area. This means that Rural Transit riders will not be able to travel from Ellettsville to Bloomington because both points are inside an urbanized zone, which are the regions surrounding cities.
The Bloomington Transit Board of Directors found that the expansion would increase education and employment opportunities and would help serve people who need public transportation, according to their meeting documents.
The Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation is prepared to invest approximately $450,000 in a study to explore the practicality of establishing a high frequency east to west route, according to meeting documents. Many areas identified for the study are regions that BPTC does not currently serve.
Those conducting the study could potentially recommend establishing a bus rapid transit or a high-quality bus-based transit system. The system would deliver services including dedicated lanes, busways, traffic signal priority, off-board fare collection, elevated platforms and enhanced stations, according to the US Department of Transportation.
The bus rapid transit would include areas outside of the existing service area. Before committing funding for the study, the board wants to ensure it has the legal capacity to serve all the areas within the study, according to the meeting documents.
John Connell, General Manager of BPTC said people outside Bloomington city limits submitted requests for service at the city council meeting.
“We have the operational capacity to operate and provide service, but we do not have the legal capacity,” Connell said at the meeting.
At their January 2023 meeting, Bloomington Transit’s Board of Directors approved a strategic plan, Transform BT, to guide decision-making over the next five to seven years. The goals of the plan include serving more customers, making BPTC more efficient and effective and supporting the region’s economic development.
One of the meeting documents was the strategic plan, which included places that are not accessible by Bloomington Public Transit because they are not within Bloomington city limits. Some of the places included Ivy Tech Community College, Cook Medical, Monroe County Airport and the south-side Kroger on State Road 37.