An overview of the proposed Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan – including several recommendations to lower the use of single-occupancy vehicles – was presented to Bloomington City Council at their March 4, 2020 meeting.
Justin Schor of Wells + Associates, the transportation consulting firm hired by the city, made the presentation. Click here to view his slidedeck, or watch it on CATS here. The full report will be available on the city's TDM website.
Short-term recommendations include providing a carpool matching service, a "guaranteed ride home" service, education and marketing about transportation options, and an increase in the cost of parking by 50% or more.
To implement and manage the city's TDM program, Schor recommended 2.5 employees, including a TDM director, manager and a part-time coordinator. The program's budget is estimated at nearly $500,000 annually. The council would need to vote to approve the program and identify revenues to support it.
As our community works to strengthen public transit, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce urges the Bloomington City Council to take an initial step: Amend Chapter 2.76 of the Bloomington Municipal Code, enabling Bloomington Transit to provide service outside the city limits.
According to Erin Predmore, President and CEO of the Chamber, “This is a small but necessary step to make our community’s public transit system even better for city residents, including employers and people who work in urbanized areas of Monroe County.”
The current code states that the boundaries of the Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation, which operates Bloomington Transit, must be “coterminous” with the city’s boundaries. Lifting this restriction, by itself, does not mean that Bloomington Transit will immediately start operating buses outside the city limits. But it does provide flexibility for BT to adjust its routes in the future, if BT staff and board find it to be financially viable.
BT is undergoing a route optimization process. Consultants for this project recommend that BT provide service out to Ivy Tech and Cook Group, located just beyond the city limits. However, this service would not be possible under the current city code. Nor can BT offer service to Ellettsville, under current constraints.
“Most of us don’t constrain our lives to the city limits, even if we live within them. Many city residents need to attend Ivy Tech, or work at Cook Group and other businesses located slightly outside the city, or shop on the western edge of our community. We need a transit system that reflects the realities of our community and serves the needs of city residents,” says Predmore.
Providing reliable public transportation helps all city residents. A recent report by the Bloomington Affordable Living Committee – “Working Hard, Falling Behind” – includes this feedback from Amethyst House, a local nonprofit: “Affordable, reliable and accessible public transportation is critical to many in our community as they work to sustain employment, fulfill basic needs, gain access to social services, and engage in our community.”
The Chamber recognizes there are many challenges to expanding transit, including financial resources and political issues between the city and county. Looking at how to improve public transit in other ways should also be a goal for our community. There’s hard work to be done. But changing this city ordinance is an easy step, and we urge council to take it.
Stressing the importance of a strong public transit system for the business community, Chamber CEO Erin Predmore was a guest on WFIU's Jan. 24 Noon Edition.
She highlighted several actions that our community needs to take to improve transit for employers and residents:
Click here to listen to the Jan. 24 Noon Edition. Other guests were Lew May, Bloomington Transit's general manager, and Beth Rosenbarger, the City of Bloomington's planning services manager. Bob Zaltsberg moderated the discussion.
At their quarterly meeting on Jan. 14, Arts Forward Bloomington held a forum focused on transportation issues that affect local arts organizations.
The group heard from Michael Shermis, the City of Bloomington's special projects coordinator, about current transportation-related activities, including a grant from ADA Indiana used to train people who are elderly or with disabilities how to use Uber.
Beth Rosenbarger, the city's planning services manager, discussed transportation issues in the context of the city's comprehensive plan and transportation plan.
The group discussed what kind of incentives might be offered by local arts organizations to encourage patrons to use alternative forms of transportation when coming to events, rather than driving a car. Ideas included offering free concessions for people who walk, bike or take the bus. The possibility of changing three parking spaces in front of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater into a drop-off/pick-up zone was also discussed.
In general, Arts Forward Bloomington wants to make sure the voice of the arts community is heard on a range of issues affecting the health of that sector.
Arts Forward Bloomington will hold its next forum in April, focusing on space needs for arts organizations. The group's steering committee includes Danielle McClelland, former director of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater; Gabe Gloden, Managing Director of Cardinal Stage; Ken Buzzard, President of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra; Susan Swaney, Artistic Director of Voces Novae and Founder of Sing for Joy! Senior Choir; and Kay Olges, Board President for Windfall Dancers.
Arts Forward Bloomington is hosting a quarterly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 14 that focuses on issues related to transportation and the arts.
Topics will include the status of local parking and transportation plans, as well as ways that arts organizations and local government can partner to increase accessibility to those with transportation needs. The discussion also will address how to incentivize patrons to consider alternate forms of transportation.
The meeting is free and open to the public. It begins at 7 p.m. at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood. Click here for more information on the AFB Facebook page.
Bloomington Transit is holding its final session in a weeks-long series of public input sessions about its proposed route redesign. The session runs from 1:30-4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Downtown Transit Center AP Room, 301 S. Walnut.
The proposed changes are part of BT's Route Optimization Study, which began in 2018. More information about this effort is available on BT's website.
BT is also looking for feedback on these service changes via an online survey. Click here to take the survey.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is convening community leaders on Friday, November 1 to develop an action plan for strengthening the Bloomington/Monroe County transportation system.
“A healthy transit system is crucial in so many ways,” said Erin Predmore, Chamber President and CEO. “It’s an important economic development asset as well as a need for our most vulnerable residents. Public transit also impacts our ability to address the community’s affordable housing crisis. The Chamber is committed to building a stronger system for all.”
This action-oriented event will begin with a panel discussion to give context to the transit system’s current status, to outline challenges and opportunities, and to offer a vision for the future.
Panelists include Lew May, general manager of Bloomington Transit; Chris Myers, CEO of Area 10 Agency on Aging/Rural Transit; Monroe County Councilmember Geoff McKim; Alex Crowley, director of the City of Bloomington’s Department of Economic & Sustainable Development; and Kent McDaniel, retired IU transportation liaison and current BT board member.
In addition to a panel discussion, the event will include “strategic doing” breakouts focused on legislative issues (local and state), funding resources, alternative transportation options, and making an economic development case statement for public transit.
The event is open to the public and will take place at the Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton. There is no charge to attend, but registration is requested. Doors open at 7:45 a.m. with the program running from 8:15 a.m. until noon.
Bloomington Transit has set dates for a series of public sessions to get feedback and provide information on proposed route changes. The effort is part of BT's Route Optimization Study, which began in 2018.
See the chart below for details on times and locations. More information about the proposed changes are available on BT's website.
BT is also looking for feedback via its Bloomington Community Rider Survey. Click here to take the survey.
Following a directive from the Bloomington City Council earlier this year, new scooter license application forms and processes were approved by the Board of Public Works at its Sept. 17 meeting.
Licensing fees to operate in Bloomington will be $10,000 annually per company, plus 15 cents per ride, per month. That per-ride fee could be reduced to 10 cents if the scooter company agrees to deploy shared-use bikes in a ratio of one bike to every five scooters.
Click here to view the staff report and sample forms.
Adam Wason, director of public works, said the city is also working on other scooter-related issues, including an expanded dismount zone and enforcement.
Wason told the board that he expects they'll have two applications to consider at their next meeting on Sept. 30. That meeting begins at noon at city hall's McCloskey conference room, 401 N. Morton. Lime and Bird both currently operate in Bloomington under interim operating agreements.
Click here to watch the discussion on CATS.
On the third Thursday of each month, Downtown Bloomington Inc. hosts a breakfast meeting that's open to the public. This month, the event drew about two dozen people who gathered at the Bloomington Cooking School.
These meetings primarily consist of updates from everyone who attends. Here's a sampling from the Sept. 19 session (* = Chamber member):
Monroe County* is replacing its downtown canopy of lights on the square with roughly 4,000 LED bulbs. Cassady Electrical Contractors* will be hanging the new strands during the third week of October. The change is estimated to cut electricity costs from $70/day to $15/day.
Downtown employers will be receiving an online survey soon to distribute to their employees as part of the City of Bloomington* Transportation Demand Management (TDM) initiative. The survey will gather information on how employees get to work, parking needs, and incentives they might use for taking alternative transportation, such as public transit.
Malcolm Abrams, publisher of Bloom Magazine* reported that Nov. 1 is the deadline to submit nominations for the monthly magazine's Community Awards, recognizing local business, charity, the arts and diversity. The awards will be presented at a gala in December.
The city's new Switchyard Park will be opening on Nov. 1. The new clubhouse at the Cascades Golf Course will be opening soon as well. It will include rentable space that's available year-round, according to Mary Catherine Carmichael, the city's director of public engagement. She quipped that the previous structure had been "rode hard and put away wet."
Adam Wason, the city's director of public works, reported that "surgical" demolition of the 4th St. garage will begin soon. The next hearing of the eminent domain lawsuit against the city is scheduled for Oct. 7. The city hopes to reach a settlement with Juan Carlos Carrasquel, Wason said. Site plans for the new 4th St. garage won't be reviewed by the Plan Commission until the situation is resolved.
CFC Properties* has launched a new website for Fountain Square. Two additional event spaces are now available for the public. CFC also is looking for a new tenant in the Wicks Building on the square at 116 W. 6th St.
The Bloomington Cooking School* is offering corporate teambuilding sessions for 8-20 people. Groups can come in a prepare a meal together – then eat it! – while getting to know each other and strengthening their business relationships.
The city's tree inventory has been released and "the general impression is not good," according to Julie Roberts, gallery director for the Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center*, who also serves as president of the city's Utilities Service Board. She urged everyone to be observant of the condition of Bloomington's trees. (Read a report about the tree inventory here.)
The DBI's next breakfast meeting is on Thursday, Oct. 17. Sign up for the group's e-newsletter here.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy