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IU Bus-Bloomington Transit Merger May Hinge On Cash Deal

Bloomington Transit Bus

Photo: Indiana Public Media

The two companies hope that if they merge, funding will surge.

Bloomington Transit officials announced Tuesday a possible merger with Indiana University Campus Bus which they hope may bring in additional revenue from the state.

Bloomington Transit General Manager Lew May told the city council during budget hearings that Bloomington Transit and IU have had several meetings but are in disagreement on how the two systems would split revenues.

“I’m optimistic at this point that we will be able to reach an agreement but it will require further negotiations,” May says.

May says IU currently wants more than half of revenues but would not specify what split the university is seeking. Bloomington Transit is currently the number two ranked public transportation system in Indiana in terms of ridership per capita and the state allocates more money to transit systems based on that metric.

May says IU transit does not currently receive state funding, but adding its 3.5 million rides per year would effectively double Bloomington Transit’s statistics. Even so, he says state funding is not guaranteed.

“It will be important if we are able to reach an agreement with the university to advance the discussion to the state level at that point to determine how much if any additional revenues if any we could potentially secure,” he says. “It’s an unanswered question at this point but it’s a question we have to ask.”

The city has yet to begin building a new bus terminal in downtown, as construction crews use the space to stage equipment as they complete nearby road construction. May says the city hopes to innovate its service, including adding free fares for school age children, two additional hybrid buses, and a mobile app which will allow users to see where their bus is at any given time.

Bloomington Transit will also work with IU graduate students next year on a study of the effects of using compressed natural gas, a resource that could cut fuel costs in half.

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