New GPTC Hammond bus route delayed

2014-05-08T18:15:00Z New GPTC Hammond bus route delayedBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Gary Public Transportation Corp. has pushed back the launch of its Lakeshore South route in Hammond to May 27, the second delay in getting the much-anticipated route started.

The service will mark the return of local bus service to Hammond. The Northwest Indiana Regional Bus Authority collapsed two years ago, ending all four of its Hammond routes.

GPTC is still putting additional staffing in place for the route and reviewing maintenance to make sure its current services in Gary and the region are not negatively affected, according to Clay Cates, GPTC interim general manager.

GPTC had originally set a target date of the past Monday for getting the service started, but later pushed that back to next week Monday.

Adjustments to the route of the Tri-City Connection, which will be newly dubbed Lakeshore Connection, also will be delayed until May 27, which is the day after the Memorial Day holiday. That route runs from Gary's Metro Center, through East Chicago and turns around in downtown Hammond.

The new Lakeshore South route will serve Hammond stops such as Purdue University Calumet and the Walmart on 169th Street. It will then head on to shopping centers and medical centers in the neighboring communities of Munster and Highland.

According to GPTC estimates, the new route will attract an estimated 45,000 riders per year. The fare is $1.60. The new route was approved by the GPTC board in March.

The board also approved adding a new Lakeshore North route to serve the north side of Hammond and Whiting if local funding of $70,058 can be found to help fund it. So far, no one has stepped up to contribute that money.

GPTC buses serve passengers in eight communities in Northwest Indiana. In 2013, ridership increased 5 percent, according to GPTC ridership data.

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