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Proposed compromise for Connect Transit Olive Route elimination in Twin Cities

After months of out-cry, a potential compromise from Connect Transit in the Twin Cities on route changes.

The announcement was made by Connect Transit General Manager Isaac Thorne at both the Normal Town Council meeting Monday night and a Bloomington City Council committee-of-the-whole also on Monday.

It would involve a proposed combination of the Olive route with the Pink route that would save disabled riders from having to travel about a half mile to the nearest bus stop at Main and Orlando in Normal.

The original plan from the Transit Board was the eliminate the route on July 1st. Thorne stating at the meeting that the Olive Route has very few riders, and costs more than $500,000.

Thorne said the Transit Board will decide at the next meeting on June 25th whether to approve that cost neutral plan that would have the Pink line pick up those riders in the area of Orlando and Northbrook.

They also discussed the fare hikes, which have now been postponed by the board, until October from $1.00 to $1.25 on fixed routes and the 30 day unlimited pass increase from $32.00 – $36.00.

But riders with disabilities who addressed the council said every cent counts. One man we spoke to said he has heard of people having to decide between grocery shopping and doctors appointments.

“They’re forcing people to make these daily decisions and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.” said Robert Ballantini, a Citizens to ensure fair transit member.

Thorne said the last increase was in 2007 and no uncommon based on similar cities to the size of Normal.

Many who spoke in public comment said they want to see people who reflect the ridership on the transit board. One woman who is blind says there is no one representing their interests.

“You have a different level of skin in the game you are living that every day so you absolutely should be part of the decision making process for what happens with your transportation system for what is a life line for you getting around .” said Jen Morsch, a citizens to ensure fair transit member.

A Normal Town Council member Stan Nord, who over the weekend took a ride in the seat of those who go through public transit every day said the board and council have to do their duty.

“I think the expectation is that we do meet the needs of those that are truly in need first.” said Nord.

 

Kaitlin Pearson

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