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Last updated on Sunday, March 25, 2012
(BLOOMINGTON) - Budget cuts may cause Bloomington’s Rural Transit, which brings people from the outskirts of the county into the city, to shut down.
Although the bus line is suffering from a lack of funding, its services are in high demand, said Dispatch Manager for Transportation Susan Chambers.
"It's been a bad year," Chambers said. "It started happening at the beginning of 2011. We knew going into 2011 it wasn't going to be that great, and it wasn't. Usually, our funding bases off our numbers, but our numbers skyrocketed in 2010. But that didn't help us."
The company used to have eight buses that ran from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Due to the budget cuts, the company has downsized to four buses that run from roughly 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Chambers said.
Rural Transit offers two services.
"We have what's called demand response, and that used to be much larger when we had several more buses, and that one's mainly when we go to folks' homes or pick them up to go to doctor's appointments," Chambers said. "Then our other service is probably what most people are seeing, which is our express bus service."
The express bus service is based on the corner of Fourth and Washington streets. It drives people from around the county, such as those from Spencer and Elletsville, and drops them in an area where the Bloomington city buses run.
The service also provides transportation every hour to and from Ivy Tech Community College in Monroe County.
"That's free for Ivy Tech folks if they have their student ID," Chambers said.
For demand response, the bus costs $3 each way for a bus to come and $1 if the customer receives Medicaid.
Chambers said anyone can use either service, including IU students who might not have cars who need to get to places out in the county.
However, due to the cuts, the demand service is harder to get simply due to lack of buses, Chambers said.
"We're trying as best we can to squeeze as many folks in," Chambers said. "We don't turn anyone down, but we have to be reasonable."
Another factor influencing the strain is gas prices. And if that doesn't change or if the company doesn't get more funding, she said, they're not sure what will happen.
"We don't know," Chambers said. "At this point with gas, we're just trying and hoping and praying we can at least keep serving the folks that need us most."
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