NORMAL — Bloomington-Normal residents might think they're seeing new Connect Transit bus shelters on local corners this fall — but not yet.
"We just put a decal on there so people can better identify those,” said General Manager Isaac Thorne of the bus system's 18 shelters. "But we're planning to add three more before the ground freezes."
Connect Transit plans to pour concrete pads and install plexiglass shelters at South Main Street and Virginia Avenue in Normal, near Advocate BroMenn Medical Center; Wylie and Bettis drives in Bloomington, near Aldi; and at Aldi at 1025 Wylie Drive, all before the end of 2017.
The BroMenn stop gets 40 riders per day on the green and gold routes, and the other two get 30 each on the brown, lime and silver routes, said Thorne.
“We picked those two locations (on Wylie Drive) because they’re kind of in the middle of nowhere, so you’ll be standing in the elements," he said. "It can get very windy there."
Connect Transit will spend between $2,500 and $3,000 on each concrete pad; 6-by-9-foot pads and connecting concrete for sidewalks and curbs are required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Thorne. The shelters are paid for through a Federal Transit Administration grant.
"We’re waiting on two permits from the city of Bloomington and for an easement agreement from Advocate BroMenn,” said Thorne of where the installation process stands now.
The system plans to add several more shelters next spring, including at both Bloomington-Normal Wal-Marts and at the Holiday Inn at 1715 Parkway Plaza Drive in Normal. Officials still need to secure easements for those shelters, among other possible locations.
“Some properties are owned by trusts, so contacting the owner can be difficult,” said Thorne.
Other locations discussed include:
- Southgate Drive and Greyhound Road in south Bloomington. The stop serves 38 riders daily on the aqua route.
- Raab Road and Sugar Creek Boulevard in north Normal. The stop serves 33 riders daily on the yellow route.
- Main Street and Oak Creek Plaza in south Bloomington, on the west side of Main. The stop serves 32 passengers daily on the aqua route.
- College Avenue and Young Drive near the Shoppes at College Hills in Normal. The stop serves 27 riders daily on the purple and red routes.
- IAA and Rowe drives near Veterans Parkway in Bloomington, on the west side of IAA. The stop serves 25 riders daily on the red route.
- Main and Oak Valley Road in south Bloomington, on the west side of Main. The stop serves 24 passengers daily on the aqua route.
Connect Transit hopes to add 10 shelters per year. Fifteen new shelters have been installed since 2014.
“We have a couple older shelters, like in front of our downtown Bloomington transfer point,” said Thorne, referring to the area in front of the McLean County Law and Justice Center, 104 W. Front St. “The new ones have a solar light inside the shelter.”
He added the new shelters are not only convenient for riders but also increase ridership. The system overhauled its routes in August 2016 in an attempt to increase ridership and make routes more convenient.
“When we put in shelters, for instance on School Street near Schnucks (at 1750 Bradford Lane in Normal, inside Constitution Trail Center), ridership grows because there’s somewhere people can wait that’s comfortable,” said Thorne. “We think they’ll be a huge benefit to our customers.”