By: Diane Benjamin
In February, Connect Transit had a whooping $115,785.44 in revenue.
That revenue didn’t cover 25% of the wages they paid to employees. ($470,076.10)
Total expenses for February were $1,025,579.65.
Drum roll please – they only lost $909,794.21!
Both Bloomington and Normal give your tax dollars to this ridiculous endeavor – they hand them this every month for operations:
That’s $610,000 a year for Bloomington and $390,000 for Normal. That doesn’t include the capital account contributions:
Connect borrowed $2,980,249.22 of that capital to cover previous losses, see PDF page 11.
Jeff Crabill and Jenn Carrillo have never heard “eventually you run out of other people’s money”.
Government doesn’t grant rights, they just pretend to for votes. Now Connect Transit wants to cut routes again, the people affected likely think they have a right to transportation. They believe that because that’s what they have gotten used to.
Ward 8 candidate Jeff Crabill is community organizing on Facebook today, he wants you to pay more!
Carrillo wants you to pay more too: see below.
Copied from Crabill’s page:
I echo these words from Sarah Grammer, Normal Township Trustee
Connect Transit will meet at 3:30 PM this Tuesday, March 26th in Normal Council Chambers (11 Uptown Circle) for a hearing and vote on MAJOR changes that will especially harm low-income and disabled residents. The administration is trying to improve its budget by extracting more from our neighbors who have the most limited incomes. This is simply unfair.
I need your help with two things:
1) Send a brief email OPPOSING these changes to the Connect Transit board and to your municipal council (emails listed below):
a. Elimination of yet another bus route: The Olive Route in Normal
b. Elimination of the 30-day bus passes for paratransit users
c. Improving their budget by fare and fee increases for the most vulnerable in our
community instead of through more tax revenue from Bloomington and Normal
2) Show up at the hearing on Tuesday. We must show up for those who cannot.
Consider making a public comment.
It is unconscionable to me that the transit system would ask people on incomes of $700 or less per month to pay more instead of lobbying the Town of Normal and City of Bloomington for a fairer share of the tax revenue. Property owners can handle paying a few more dollars a year in taxes; the community that has to ride transit cannot.
Email Connect Transit’s board: email@example.com
Email the Normal Town Council: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Email the Bloomington City Council: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are more details on some of the main issues:
1) Connect Transit wants to eliminate the Olive Route which runs from dense, multi-family housing on Orlando Avenue, past more dense housing on Shelbourne, past the Job Link office, a large mobile home park, and the ARC senior center on Beech, up Ft Jesse to Walmart in Normal.
Many individuals who live in housing on this route have NO other transportation and will not be able to afford to move to get back on the bus route. Connect Transit says expecting these individuals to walk 10-20 minutes further in any kind of weather to the next nearest bus line is no problem. BUT it is a huge hardship for young families balancing groceries and children and individuals who struggle with neuropathy and other illnesses and cannot qualify for or afford the paratransit buses.
2) Connect Transit wants to eliminate bus passes for the disabled who have to use the paratransit service (Connect Mobility). The initial proposal was to raise the 30-day paratransit pass by $5 per month to $70. However, due to Connect Transit eliminating routes in the community over the past several years, many who need paratransit now live in “special service areas” – an area off the fixed bus route. Those riders are forced to pay $3.50-$4.50 each way and are not allowed to use the monthly pass. Those riders pay the most and have no other options and asked for some sort of discount.
So, Connect Transit’s newest proposal is total elimination of the monthly pass for the paratransit service in exchange for a Value Card which was give users a 5% discount on a $25 card, 10% on a $50 card, and 15% discount on a $100 card. While this helps those living in a special service area a little bit, eliminating the bus pass hurts many other riders.
When I attended a listening session at Life CIL on Friday, paratransit riders explained how many of them make far less than minimum wage and rely on the bus to take them back and forth to work all week. That’s 40 rides in a typical month: without the pass, they will spend $100 just getting to work, and then need to spend more to get to the grocery store and run other vital errands. They talked about the extreme hardship of going from $65/month pass to needing to spend $125 or more to maintain their current ridership, on an income for many that does not rise over $650 for the entire month.
The 30+ individuals at the Life CIL meeting asked that Connect Transit please not punish them for working. They requested: keep the 30-day pass for those who rely on it and extend the small discount Value Cards for those may benefit.
Jenn Carrillo attended a listen session last week and thinks the City (YOU) should give Connect more money too:
Imagine what could be done with some imagination instead of huge empty buses destroying the streets!
Crabill and Carrillo obviously don’t have any.
It would be cheaper just to buy the affected people cars! Of course, it might not be when the City and State raise the Motor Fuel Tax again.