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Bloomington Transit Eliminates Late Night Bus Service

Route nine goes through campus and the east side of town. (Zach Herndon, WFIU/WTIU News)

Bloomington Transit will no longer be providing its night owl bus service starting August 20.

Buses ran from 11 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. along routes six and nine on Friday and Saturday nights. Those routes mainly go through campus and the east side of town. The night owl service has been offered during IU’s fall and spring semesters for nearly a decade.

But ridership has dropped consistently since then.

IU Spokesperson Chuck Carney says there were only 12,000 riders during the 2017-2018 school year, compared with more than 42,000 riders during the 2009-2010 school year.

Bloomington Transit General Manager Lew May says ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are impacting ridership, and the costs no longer make sense.

“In each year we asked the university to provide us with a small inflationary increase than the cost,” May says. “For three consecutive years, the university has turned down our requests.”

Carney says increasing the students’ fees to continue the Bloomington Transit Night Owl service was not the best option, and the IU student transportation board decided Bloomington Transit Night Owl service was low on their priority list.

“There were other things such as increasing the routes, the number of buses that run on the IU campus during weekdays so that students can get to class, and things like that there were higher on that list,” he says.

Carney says the campus bus service recently added six new buses to its fleet. And IU’s own Campus Bus Night Owl service will continue running on Friday and Saturday nights.

IU students, faculty and stuff can also get a free lift from anywhere around town using IU Safety Escort Service.

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