Posted by: southsiderMMX Sep 17 2010, 09:02 AM
Early morning, evening bus service ending in Michigan City
Michigan City, IN
A federal grant that paid for extra service will run out on September 30 and Michigan City cannot afford to continue the service.
Posted: 9:53 PM Sep 15, 2010
Reporter: Brandon Lewis
Michigan City expanded its bus service in 2007 with a $250,000 grant from the Federal Transportation Administration. It allowed the city to add service between 5:30 a.m and 6:30 a.m as well as 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. as an experiment to increase ridership.
"That grant expires on September 30th of this year it did what we had hoped to do. We believe that people were able to get to work that weren't able to before, so we had new job opportunities and shopping opportunities," said Mayor Chuck Oberlie, who said the city paid $50,000 of its own money into the extra service.
Nearly 30,000 trips are taken each year during the expanded hours, but does not produce enough money to be self sustaining.
With the money running out, riders like Margaret Picur will have to find alternate transportation. Picur submitted a petition with 100 signatures to the city, but was unable to persuade them to keep the service.
"I'm concerned about the people that work at night that depend on the bus. There are a lot that don't have vehicles and they do depend on the bus service and I would like Michigan City to have bus service at night," said Picur.
Picur works at Meijer and will be able to continue riding the bus to and from work, but knows of other workers who are out of luck. She also said she worries Meijer may change her schedule, forcing her to walk three miles to work.
Other evening bus riders share her concerns.
"It's about a 45 minute walk for me, but I got to make it to work, so I don't know what I'm going to do about it," said Billy Morgan, who relies on the evening bus to get to work.
Eleven staff members at Michigan City Transit will loose their jobs at the end of the month.
"The grant itself provided for the salaries of the assistant director, secretary and I believe eight part time drivers. All those positions will be eliminated at the end of the month," said Oberlie.
According to Oberlie the extra buses only generated about $21,000, which is nowhere near the $300,000 needed to keep the buses running.
"It's not something we're closing the door on, we'll continue to look for additional funds. There have been opportunities for additional subsidies and as we go forward we'll peruse all those and if we can make those happen we would like to act," said Oberlie.
He added when the extra service began in 2007 there was not a 24/7 taxi service in the city. Currently there are two companies. Oberlie acknowledged while a taxi would be more expensive, there are options available to those without vehicles.
Posted by: southsiderMMX Sep 25 2010, 07:43 AM
New bus hours set
Published: Friday, September 24, 2010 5:12 PM CDT
MICHIGAN CITY — Early morning and late evening transit service will be eliminated as of 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.
With the expiration of the Congestion, Mitigation and Air-Quality Grant through the Federal Transit Administration three years ago, the Transit Department no longer will have the financial means to extend its hours of operation.
Beginning Monday, Oct. 4, the new hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Call MC Transit at 873-1502 for more information.
Posted by: southsiderMMX Nov 21 2010, 10:17 AM
Rider: Late bus service a must
Crystal Bell, Michigan City, can no longer make sure her epileptic mother gets safely to bed because bus service isn’t available at night anymore. Photo by Alicia Ebaugh
By Alicia Ebaugh
Published: Friday, November 19, 2010 5:12 PM CST
MICHIGAN CITY — Crystal Bell’s mother has epilepsy. She’s afraid her mom may hurt herself getting ready for bed because she can no longer get home on the bus at night to help her.
“I’m the only one who takes care of her, and she has seizures that incapacitate her for several days,” said Bell, 27, as she waited for the last bus to leave Michigan City Public Library at 5:30 p.m. “Having the evening bus service available let me spend more time with her. Now, I feel like I need to stay by my phone all the time to see if she needs something, even though it would take me about an hour to walk there.”
Bell grew up using Michigan City Transit with her mother to get to the grocery store, laundromat and to school. In fact, Bell has never had a driver’s license. She still uses the bus to get to classes at Brown Mackie College. But when the evening service allowed her to start traveling as late as 9 p.m., she came to depend on it.
“It was more convenient for me and other students, too. At least it gave us the option to go to night classes. Now, those of us who depend on the bus can’t do that,” she said.
Taxis, which can cost $10 for a ride in town, are out of many bus riders’ budgets. Regular bus rides are $1.
The city’s extended-hour bus service ended Sept. 30 because the Federal Transit Administration Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant that paid for the service dried up. The service provided about 29,600 rides between October 2008 and September 2009. Although the Michigan City Common Council approved a resolution to search for a way to bring it back, councilwoman Pat Boy said the money may not be available.
“It’s pretty obvious from public feedback that we need it. Managers at stores like Meijer are looking for it, too. They want to make sure people can get to and from work safely and dependably,” Boy said. “But that doesn’t give us the money to run it.”
Margaret Picur, a bus rider who works at Meijer, has helped spearhead the effort to bring back evening service. She said her employer has shifted her schedule to fit within bus hours, but she’s not sure how long that will last.
“They would have preferred me to be on a different shift,” she said. “And I can’t work on Sundays at all. My son’s hours have been cut now that he can’t get home from work at night without walking three miles.”
Boy is hoping the city can soon find a way to move bus drivers’ schedules around to provide at least one evening route. The need for it goes as far back as 2005, when the city paid $73,000 for a survey of hundreds of households and bus riders. The results suggested residents needed extended hours until 8:30 p.m. for weekdays and Saturdays, as well as Sunday service.
“If we had known when we applied for that grant that it would have run out so soon, I don’t think we would have applied for it in the first place,” Boy said. “It’s a shame.”