VALPARAISO | A fourth bus began running on the ChicaGo Dash service to Chicago's Loop in April, and the city's Board of Public Works and Safety approved the federal grant to pay for it on Thursday.
Assistant City Planner Taylor Wegrzyen told board members the weekday ridership on the buses averaged 120 in July and has had a high of 128 for one day. The grant for $308,000 in federal congestion mitigation/air quality funds will cover operating costs for the bus through 2014.
Wegrzyen said the total operating costs for the Dash was about $600,000 a year for the three buses. The CMAQ grant is to cover startup costs for the fourth bus, and the city is eligible to receive the funds for up to three years. It covers the actual cost up to a maximum of $308,000 for the first grant. The city would be eligible for additional grants for 2015 and 2016.
The express commuter service is operated by Free Enterprise Systems for the city. The city is leasing one of the company's buses for the fourth route until its own bus arrives. City Planning Director Tyler Kent said that bus now is expected sometime in September.
The board also approved a request from Robert Cotton to allow use of the sidewalk around the Porter County Courthouse for a rally to be held Aug. 17 in connection with the Florida jury verdict finding George Zimmerman innocent of the slaying of Trayvon Martin.
The rally will be held on the grounds of the courthouse, which is under the county's jurisdiction, but the sidewalk is under the city's authority. The rally will feature several speakers.