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Public Pressure Keeps Bus Line Running

BLOOMINGTON – At the July 11th Bloomington city council meeting, the Bloomington-Normal Public Transportation System (BNPTS) requested a grant of $50,000 from the city of Bloomington to run the Teal (J) bus route for the upcoming year. The BNPTS board was also granted $50,000 from the city of Normal.

David Anderson, BNPTS interim manager, spoke at the council meeting and said that the city subsidy is needed to maintain the line for the upcoming year. Anderson reported that the Teal J line has not generated enough revenue to support itself, and that a consultant was recently hired to help reconfigure the system and generate ideas for improving funding and ridership.

According to interim manager, he planned to cut the Teal J line, but a June 6th public hearing attended by 60 people convinced him that the line is needed by city residents. Workers testified that they need the bus line to get to their jobs, and people said that they use it to arrive at their doctor appointments.

The Teal (J) route services the east side of the city near the Central Illinois Regional Airport.

Many ideas were floated around on how to avoid eliminating the route. A few alderpersons suggested advertising on the side of the buses, and Mayor Stockton proposed that companies whose employees use the line should kick in money. The interim manager said that funding alternatives should be looked at in a study committee, taking into consideration the possibility of a property tax or sales tax.

The Bloomington alderpersons were generally appreciative of David Anderson’s forthright answers, but some were leery of subsidizing the route.

The Council voted 8-1 to provide the BNPTS with the city subsidy. Only Judy Stearns voted against it, arguing that the BNPTS should have foreseen funding problems with the Teal J route and should have devised a plan for dealing with it. She asked the interim manager if a fare increase had been considered.

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