Illinois awards Connect Transit $9.6 million for microtransit service
Bloomington-Normal's public transportation system will receive $9.6 million from the state of Illinois for its new on-demand service.
Connect Transit plans to debut microtransit in late spring or early summer. It's an app-based service that transports passengers from their neighborhood to a fixed route.
"These funds allow us to continue investing in modern vehicles and equipment to better serve our community," Connect Transit board chair Ryan Whitehouse said in a news release.
The money comes from the Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan and will pay for construction of a facility to house the vehicles. It’s the third round of a six-year program which Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law in 2019. The $45 billion plan was funded by a doubling of the state’s motor fuel tax.
The funding will pay for a shed at Connect Transit headquarters to store the vehicles, along with electrification infrastructure, according to Connect Transit general manager David Braun.
Connect Transit plans to buy five electric vehicles for the new service with the option to buy 10 more, but Braun added the service will start with gas-powered vehicles in the short term.
“We will start the new service with temporary pre-owned vehicles that will also be ramp equipped until we can take delivery of the new vehicles, likely in 2024 due to limited chassis and chip supply in the new vehicle market,” Braun said.
Braun said Connect Transit plans to begin with one microtransit vehicle in Bloomington and one in Normal and will study areas of the community that may benefit from an on-demand service based on age, income, auto ownership and assess to fixed route service.
Pritzker this week announced nearly $114 million in grants for 32 transit projects in downstate Illinois.
The federal government has helped to fund the microtransit vehicles, along with new electric buses the transit agency plans to buy.