LAPORTE COUNTY | Plans for round-trip bus service to and from Michigan City, LaPorte and Purdue University North Central are moving forward.
Specific routes and fees recently were unveiled, and officials plan to start the service in August.
"That's realistic," said Tom MacLennan, director of LaPorte Transporte.
LaPorte Transporte and Michigan City Transit are partnering to provide a total of six round trips in the morning and afternoon to each of the three destinations every Monday through Friday.
The idea has been discussed for years, but serious talk began only recently.
"We are moving forward," said Bob Strader, director of Michigan City Transit.
Strader said buses that can hold as many as 45 passengers will leave Michigan City from the Marquette Mall for riders going to LaPorte's downtown and industrial areas then return for riders wanting to come to Michigan City.
Buses also can be boarded at the mall for rides to and from Purdue North Central.
People in LaPorte going to Purdue North Central can catch a ride at the Maple Lane Mall in smaller buses.
Strader said a study in 2008 showed enough demand to provide the bus service. More recent surveys highlight even more of a need, including from Purdue North Central students, he said.
"There was a lot larger demand than what we expected," Strader said.
If students are unable to board a bus filled to capacity, another bus will be dispatched, he said.
Details that still must be worked out include how much money each of the cities, county and PNC might be willing to contribute toward annual operating expenses of more than $300,000, MacLennan said.
Strader said there are federal funds already on hand to fully fund the bus service for three years.
A $3 charge for a ride will likely be assessed, he said.