Transit use up following virus-inspired decrease

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Transit service in the city was impacted hard by the virus.

But things are getting better, Transit Director Jacque Lueken told the Huntingburg Common Council Tuesday evening.

“We did take a hit on our boardings,” she said. “But we’re starting to climb out of it now.”

Lueken reported that the number of passenger boardings for March was 687, which is more than the 428 total for February. “I think everyone is getting a little more comfortable with being out,” she said.

Lueken also said that the virus hit her on a personal level; April Blessinger kept things running in her absence, for which Lueken said she is very grateful.

The Transportation Security Administration has extended the face mask requirement for all transportation networks, including public transportation, until Sept. 13. “Our riders must wear face masks,” Lueken said, “along with our drivers.”

Transit staff continue to clean the transit vehicles several times a day, Lueken said. And passengers are spaced out on the vehicles, unless they are family, Blessinger said. Riders who work together have also been able to sit together since they have already been working together. And for the minivan, no passenger is allowed to ride up front with the driver, Lueken said.

The transit program is planning to apply for its annual operating grant, which is estimated to be about $136,500, to run the service; the state allocation will be about $25,100.

Lueken said she also would like to submit an application to receive a capital grant to purchase a new van to replace the 2012 van that is being used. The current van is starting to have problems due to age; transmission repairs were made recently, she explained.

A new van will cost about $47,000. The grant would cover $37,600, which is 80% of the cost. The transit department has enough money in its budget to cover the other 20%, which would be about $9,400, Lueken said.

Council members approved the plan to apply for the grants. They also approved a marketing plan, which promotes the service and a written safety plan that has also been approved by the Indiana Department of Transportation, Blessinger said.

The council also:

• Received a list of the many places where water department equipment is being stored. Water Superintendent Gary Meyerholtz suggested to the council in April that the city look at possibly purchasing a building to store all the equipment and to have space for offices. Councilmen Tim Wehr and Jeff Bounds are visiting the different storage locations on the list, Wehr said. “We understand the need for it now,” he said.

• Found that Indiana Municipal Power Agency is in compliance with the tax abatement the agency received in 2016 for solar panels.




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