IN: RBA Wants to Rally Support for Continued Funding

March 01--The Northwest Indiana Regional Bus Authority will use two hearings announcing it will cease operations at the end of June to rally public support for both emergency and long-term funding.

"There are still options the County Council could do to find a solution," RBA Executive Director Tim Brown said.

In addition, there is still some hope for state legislation that could redirect a low-income home tax credit to buses, Brown said.

The first hearing is scheduled to run from 5 to 7 p.m. April 5 at the Hammond Public Library, 564 State St. The second is set to take place from 5 to 7 p.m. May 4 at the same location.

The RBA also plans a rally from 6 to 8 p.m. April 19 at the Hammond Civic Center, 5825 Sohl Ave.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority ceased funding RBA operations at the end of 2011, and the bus agency is set to run out of its remaining funds by the end of June.

There have been ongoing negotiations between the RBA, the city of Gary and Gary Public Transportation Corp. to find a solution to the bus agency's woes, but so far no deal has been struck.

On Tuesday, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. all met at McDermott's office to find a way to move forward on bus services, Copeland said.

The three mayors have agreed to meet again on the issue, Copeland said.

The RBA took over bus service formerly provided by Hammond Transit in the summer of 2010 and greatly expanded both its routes and schedules. The agency now provides fixed-route bus and complimentary paratransit in Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago, Highland, Munster and Southeast Chicago. It also runs express buses on weekdays from Dyer to the Chicago Loop.

The agency reports it provides more than 30,000 rides per month — approximately double the number of rides formerly provided by Hammond Transit.

Copyright 2012 - The Times, Munster, Ind.