‘Understandable’ transit rate increase approved

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com 

HUNTINGBURG — Fees for riding the transit van will increase in January.

The increase will help cover operating expenses, Transit Director Jacque Lueken told the Huntingburg Common Council Tuesday evening. The council approved the increase.

“Increasing the fares is never an easy decision to make,” Lueken said. “But looking at the big picture, the need is there.”

Starting Jan. 1, a round-trip ride will increase from $2 to $3, a one-way trip from $1 to $1.50, and an additional stop on a trip from 50 cents to $1.

The last time the fees increased was in June 2012, Lueken said. The transit fees are still cheaper than other transit companies in the area, she said.

According to Ride Solution’s website, one-way fares are $3 within a community, $5 for a ride to another community in the county, and $7 to ride to a different county. Each additional stop during a ride costs $1, and in-town school-related one-way trips are $2. Orange County’s service charges $5 for a one-way ride in a community, Lueken said.

The transit department sent a survey to current passengers about the increases to give them a chance to comment. “The majority of those that responded said they felt the increase was understandable,” Lueken said.

Mayor Denny Spinner said the demographics of riders is becoming broader. Along with seniors using the service, Lueken said, children ride the transit van to go to school, and young adults are using it to go to work. She added that 30 percent of the ridership is people going to work.

Spinner said there has been a lot of comments about public transportation so far as the city collects information for the upcoming update of Huntingburg’s comprehensive plan.

“The next expansion, in my mind, may be how to continue to expand the hours to meet more of the needs inside our community,” he said. “I think that will be reflected in the results of the comprehensive plan.”

The council also:

• Approved the $8,000 contract for Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission to monitor and make sure the contractors of the water improvement project comply with federal labor standards. This monitoring is required as part of the agreement for the State Revolving Fund loan.

• Approved a salary ordinance for elected officials. The ordinance gives the mayor and clerk-treasurer a 2.5% raise. After a long discussion, the council decided to enact a 2% raise for the council’s salary. Council members said that while they were fine with not getting a raise, they didn’t want to pay to get so far behind that future potential candidates would not want to run for the position. They also don’t want a future council to feel forced to give itself a big raise.

• Gave Clerk-Treasurer Tom Dippel permission to hire someone to work in his officer for about 12 weeks while one of his regular staff members is on maternity leave.

• Approved the 2020 city calendar, which sets next year’s meeting dates and employee holidays.

• Heard update from Dubois Strong head Ed Cole. He gave a summary of the some of the year’s activities, including October’s Tour of Opportunity program for the county’s ninth-grade students, November’s agricultural summit, ongoing workforce attraction efforts and efforts to give enterprise loans to help start businesses.

• Were reminded that the next council meeting will be Dec. 23, since the normal meeting date is Christmas Eve. The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. in the council’s chambers, on the second floor of City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St., Huntingburg.




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