RBA may look to Porter County to survive

2012-10-24T20:15:00Z 2012-10-24T23:05:03Z RBA may look to Porter County to surviveKeith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com
October 24, 2012 8:15 pm  • 

The Northwest Indiana Regional Bus Authority may have to look to Porter County for its survival, even though that county has only marginal participation in the regional bus agency.

RBA attorney David Hollenbeck told the RBA board Wednesday that although the Lake County Council has rescinded its ordinance establishing the RBA, Porter County still has its ordinance on the books.

At the RBA regular meeting Wednesday in Merrillville, Hollenbeck and several RBA board members resolved to meet with Porter County Council members next week to see if they want the RBA to carry on.

Earlier this month the Lake County Council voted to rescind its enabling RBA ordinance and end its participation, which basically consists of two board appointments, by the end of this year.

The discussion adds one more ironic twist to the RBA's eventual fate. Before its funding ran out, the bus agency operated fixed route, paratransit and express bus services in Lake County. In the past it also subsidized Gary Public Transportation Corp. regional routes.

But in Porter County, its most significant action was funding bus purchases for a social service agency. The V-Line bus service in Valparaiso and the ChicagoDash express bus to Chicago operate independently of the RBA. Some RBA board members are appointees from Porter County.

RBA Treasurer Lynn Duttlinger said she had discussed the issue of the RBA's fate with Valparaiso Mayor John Costas and former RBA Chairman Dennis Rittenmeyer, who now heads up the One Region community development group.

"We do not want the message of transportation to be lost in the region," Duttlinger said. "So in the event there is no RBA, we are looking to One Region to take over."

Also at Wednesday's meeting, East Chicago Transit head Sandy Martinez asked the RBA if her agency will be paid nearly $70,000 the RBA committed to bus purchases it made in 2008.

GPTC Planning and Marketing Director David Wright had a similar question, asking how the RBA intends to honor its commitment for about $40,000 to design and construct a transit center with the GPTC at 35th Avenue and Broadway.

Board members decided both issues will have to be discussed further with RBA Executive Director Tim Brown and others.

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