Heartland Community College’s Board of Trustees will take up a six-month universal access contract with Connect Transit on Tuesday.
Heartland's vote comes less than a week after Connect Transit failed to approve an extension on Illinois State University’s current contract. The two sides have been unable to agree on how much Redbird Express and universal access services are worth. Without a new contract, the bus service provided to ISU would end Dec. 31.
At Heartland, the new contract would go into effect Jan. 1 and expire at the end of June, if approved by the college's board.
The nearly $50,000 contract is based on annual ridership of 120,000, said Heartland vice president of business services and institutional effectiveness Doug Minter. He said this does not reflect Connect Transit's proposed 25-cent rate increase that the transit board tabled until July 2020.
“What we agreed to was no increase in the first half of the year, and then this increase is for the second half of the fiscal year,” Minter said. “So we're going to be right back at this again very soon.”
The new contract prices out at 82.5 cents per rider, which Minter said reflects a 10% increase over the current rate of 75 cents.
Meanwhile, negotiations and data analysis are continuing for a new contract that would begin July 1, 2020.
Minter said Heartland did not face the same conflicts as ISU.
“We've been in dialogue for a couple years with Connect Transit because there's a number of things that are different about our circumstances than ISU’s,” he said. “Not the least of which was the ability for us to get actual transaction data on our ridership.”
Last year Heartland implemented magnetic stripe ID cards to track ridership both near campus and across Bloomington-Normal. Minter said that data allows the college to have more in-depth conversations about student ridership needs.
Editor's note: WGLT program director Mike McCurdy is Connect Transit's board chair.
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