MITS interested in campus shuttle

About 10 years ago the federal government passed regulations that were interpreted to mean that the Muncie Indiana Transit System could no longer operate the campus shuttle at Ball State.

The university took over the operation at a cost MITS estimates to be $325,000 to $330,000 per year. But a more recent interpretation of those regulations would make it possible for MITS to provide the service to the university once again.

In 1995 MITS made an informal proposal to provide bus services at BSU once again. Formal proposals were offered in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2001. They have never received a formal response from the university, according to King.

"They always say they are still considering it," said Larry King, MITS bus manager.

"I really don't have any good answer about that," Thomas Spangler, Ball State assosciate vice president for finance, said. "Like any negotiations, there has to be give and take on both sides."

Spangler said that the university is currently having discussions with MITS, but he said he could not comment on what specific changes Ball State wants in the proposal.

"I'm sure there will be positive benefits, if we can reach an agreement," he said.

The proposal from MITS is based on operating the service during the same hours as the current shuttle, at a cost of $95,000 per year to Ball State.

"We've offered to do it at a very low cost," King said.

Also, included in the proposal would be an "unlimited access plan," allowing anyone with a Ball State ID to ride any MITS bus anywhere in the city for free.

"We think this has a lot of advantages with regard to parking issues and environmental issues on campus," King said.

MITS would purchase eight new buses for the service.

King said the buses Ball State currently operates are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because they are not easily accessed by a wheelchair.

"According to legal opinions we have, that is incorrect," Spangler said.

The new buses would cost MITS as much as $1.8 million, but some of that cost could be offset by federal money.

MITS would also stand to gain a significant increase in their state funding due to the additional number of passengers and vehicle miles that would come along with operating the BSU shuttle service.

"We could receive additional state funds that would be very favorable to us," said King. Although he emphasized that the amount of additional funding was far from certain.

The drivers who are currently employed at Ball State would be "more than welcome" at MITS, King said, so long as they meet the requirements for employment regarding licensing and driving records.+â-ä+â-è-¬


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