VALPARAISO | The Regional Bus Authority will cease to exist Dec. 31, but it still has money to give to local transit providers and Valparaiso will receive some of it.
The city's Board of Public Works and Safety approved an agreement with the RBA on Wednesday to enable the city to receive $182,400 toward the local share of the purchase of a bus for the ChicaGo Dash and four buses for the V-Line. Planning Director Tyler Kent said that leaves only $9,900 as the city's share for the five buses.
City Attorney David Hollenbeck, who also is the attorney for the RBA, said the agency still has grant money available that it can distribute to any transit agencies in Lake or Porter counties. The money can only be used to reimburse agencies for the cost of new buses.
Kent said he is working on the specifications for the Dash bus with Motor Coach Industries, which built the buses already owned by the city. Valparaiso plans to add a fourth route to the weekday express commuter service to Chicago's Loop. Each 56-passenger bus is estimated to cost $600,000.
The V-Line buses are replacements for the current fleet and cost about $75,000 each. Kent didn't know how long it will take to receive the buses.
To help cover the operating costs of the buses, the board approved the acceptance of $148,693 from the state's public mass transportation funds, which comes from a portion of the sales tax. The money is distributed through a formula and is shared by all the transit agencies in the state.
The board also approved a lease with Porter Regional Hospital for the use of 80 parking spaces in the former 3-D parking lot on Lincolnway as a temporary solution to the parking needs in the Eastgate corridor.
Stuart Summers, executive director of the city's Redevelopment Commission, said the future needs will depend on whatever is built on the former hospital site. The city will work with the hospital on a long-term solution to the parking, he said. The lease is for $12,000, and the commission will pay for snow plowing.