LAPORTE COUNTY | It's been talked about for years, but providing public transportation between Michigan City and LaPorte and even Westville is back on the minds of local officials.
For the past six months, officials in Michigan City, LaPorte and LaPorte County have been at the table figuring out ways to make it happen.
"We get requests every day for transportation up to Michigan City and we just can't provide it at this time," said Tom MacLennan, director of TransPorte, the city of LaPorte's bus service.
MacLennan said a major key is involvement by the county, whose interest runs very high.
LaPorte County Commissioner Dave Decker said Purdue North Central is also at the table, feeling there's enough of a demand for bus service by students.
"If we can get some kind of a bus service going it would help everybody out," said Decker.
One of the driving forces is demand from LaPorte residents, especially the elderly, who want to shop, go to a tourist attaction or doctor's appointments in Michigan City but either don't have transportation or are no longer able to drive such distances.
MacLennan said there are jobs in LaPorte that residents in Michigan City can utilize public transportation to reach.
Right now, LaPorte and Michigan City provide bus service within their respective city limits.
One of the obstacles is deciding whether to offer direct round trip routes or establish a midway point where passengers would transfer from one bus service to the other.
Decker said funding is another issue with state or federal dollars likely the key to supplement the cost.
MacLennan said there is no exact timeframe for starting bus service given the issues that still must be worked out, but the sooner the better.
Michigan City Transit director Rob Strader said a survey from PNC shows a real interest among students.
Strader said a meeting is scheduled Tuesday among all of the players involved to further move the proposal along.
"There's a lot of moving parts with this," said Strader.