By Howard Packowitz
NORMAL – Normal Town Council member Stan Nord claims he was literally sick to his stomach this weekend.
Nord and Bloomington City Council member Jeff Crabill experienced first-hand what wheelchair-bound bus riders would have to do if Connect Transit eliminates the Olive Route.
Nord and Crabill said they used wheelchairs to follow disabled rider Bradley Morris for nearly a half-mile, navigating streets and sidewalks from near Orlando Avenue and Northbrook Drive to a Main Street bus stop in north Normal.
“Jeff and I are about worn out. (Bradley) has to do this all the time, every day. He doesn’t have a choice. He doesn’t have the option to get up,” said Nord, who made his comments in a video posted on his Facebook page.
“Now we want to take this bus stop away from these folks? I’m literally sick to my stomach now after experiencing this,” said Nord.
I think it should be mandatory training for anybody in public service, and especially in public transportation that they do this route at least once, so that way they have perspective,” Nord said.
Connect Transit General Manager Isaac Thorne is scheduled to appear before a Bloomington City Council committee-of-the-whole meeting at 6 p.m. Monday and Normal Town Council’s regular meeting an hour later.
Transit leaders said the Olive Route has very few riders, and eliminating the line will save $156,000 a year.
Both councils will discuss whether to reject Connect Transit’s budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 unless the transit board delays getting rid of the Olive Route, which runs from north Normal to east of Veterans Parkway.
Connect Transit also plans to implement a series of fare increases starting in October.
Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said rejecting the budget is a nuclear option because it’s not clear whether bus service can continue running without a budget.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org