Illinois State University and Connect Transit have come to terms on a six-month agreement that would maintain universal access for ISU students, faculty and staff.
ISU would pay Connect Transit 4% more to ensure free bus access to the university community. They can ride by swiping their university ID card. The agreement also pays for Redbird Express.
The agreement, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2020, calls for the university to pay $289,068 to cover the first six months of 2020. That would bring the 12-month total for the service to $567,018.
Chuck Scott, ISU's associate vice president of facilities management, planning and operations, said the university has determined the increase to Connect Transit is worthwhile to avoid losing the universal service.
“Certainly that was a great concern for the university and for Connect Transit and the community as a whole,” Scott said.
The Connect Transit board last week struck down a six-month extension which ISU had approved in October, arguing the payment wasn’t enough to cover the transit agency’s costs.
The new deal still needs formal approval from the university and transit agency. ISU’s Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on the deal Saturday. Connect Transit’s board is set to vote Tuesday.
“Connect Transit values our partnership with Illinois State University,” Connect Transit general manager Isaac Thorne said. “Illinois State University is making a community investment to ensure a strong transit system for students and Bloomington-Normal.”
Scott said the university heard some negative feedback in the week since the transit board’s vote put ISU’s universal access in jeopardy.
“We had a few emails from concerned students and their parents – not a large number, but a few emails. And then we had some concern from community members as well,” Scott said.
Scott, who is retiring in January, said he hopes the university and Connect Transit can work toward multiyear agreements starting in the spring.
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