Connect Transit riders could soon be paying higher fares to take the bus.
The Bloomington-Normal transit agency is also looking to eliminate one of its lesser-used routes while boosting frequency of two of its more popular routes.
General Manager Isaac Thorne presented a proposal at a Connect Transit Board of Trustees work session on Tuesday to raise the fixed-route fare from $1 to $1.25 per ride starting July 1. The plan would gradually raise the fare to $1.50 by 2023.
A fixed-route 30-day pass would be increased from $32 to $36. Connect Mobility fixed-route 30-day pass rate would also increase from $65 to $70.
Thorne noted it would mark the first rate hike for one-way fares in 12 years. He said the agency is factoring a drop of 7.5 percent in ridership into its budget, but he believes the increased service it has provided in recent years will keep riders from choosing other forms of travel.
“With us not increasing the fare in such a long time and the value that we’ve provided our riders in the last two years with increased frequency, later service at night, Sunday service, we believe we can maintain our ridership where it is at right now,” Thorne said.
Connect Transit last increased rates for Connect Mobility and its 30-day fixed route pass in 2016.
Thorne added the agency plans to purchase a mobile ticketing app that would enable users to cap their monthly fares at $36 without having to pay the one-time monthly fee.
Connect Transit also plans to eliminate its Olive route that runs from Orlando Avenue in west Normal to the Normal Walmart.
The agency plans to increase service from the Bloomington Walmart to downtown Bloomington through its Lime route and boost frequency of its service from Uptown Normal to the Normal Walmart and OSF Fort Jesse Medical Center.
Board member John Bowman said he was concerned the agency is failing to provide interim measures that would potentially increase ridership before canceling the route.
“We continue to cut service to the community, when it should be an asset that serves the entire community,” Bowman told the board.
Thorne added residents in the Orlando Avenue area will be able to access other routes that offer more frequency by walking several blocks to Main Street or along Constitution Trail to get to Raab Road to access the Yellow route which comes every 15 minutes during peak times.
“Generally for transit, if you provide more frequent service, transit users are more willing to walk to that service,” Thorne said.
Thorne said the agency needs to cut costs to offset rising wages and inflation.
The board plans to schedule a series of community engagement sessions to gather public feedback about the rates and route changes ahead of a public hearing that will be scheduled in early March.
Editor's note: GLT Program Director Mike McCurdy is chair of Connect Transit's board.
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