Having outgrown its current site, Bloomington Transit will build a new transfer facility downtown thanks to a $2 million federal grant.
The new facility, which will be built at 3rd and Walnut Street, will be designed to handle the city’s more than 2.8 million riders a year. That’s up from just one million less than ten years ago.
Transit General Manager Lew May says ridership could approach ten million in the next decade. He says the new downtown facility will be able to expand to handle the growth.
“If we’re going to reach that threshold of ridership, we’re going to need a modern, up to date, enhanced transit facility,” he said. “And this site is going to give us the home that hopefully will serve us well for the next 20 to 25 years.”
With growing ridership, Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan admits the intersection, which is already busy with vehicular traffic, will see more pedestrians. But he says the city will make efforts to protect crossing the intersection to and from the new facility.
“The fact that they chose to stay downtown was something that was very important to me and to the community. It’s something everybody should be cognizant of and ought to applaud. Property costs would’ve been lower elsewhere, there would’ve been more space,” he said.
“But they made a commitment to downtown and I think that’s important for our downtown identity but also for the commerce of downtown and make sure everybody has access to the hub of the city,” he said.
The city’s current downtown facility was built more than 20 years ago when the transit line averaged less than 500,000 riders a year. Ninth District Rep. Baron Hill says the U.S. Department of Transportation likely chose Bloomington for the grant because of its recent growth in ridership.
“Mass transportation is not the most popular thing in the rest of my congressional district. But it’s something the people of Bloomington have embraced,” he said. “When you have 2.8 million people riding the bus [out of a population of 70,000], that says Bloomington has embraced public transportation.”
May says the new facility will feature air conditioning, increased seating areas, indoor waiting and improved security and accessibility. The city expects to break ground next year, but no firm date’s been set.