Transportation: Public transit ailing in Northwest Indiana

2012-10-09T11:00:00Z Transportation: Public transit ailing in Northwest IndianaBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Transportation is going downhill fast in Northwest Indiana, with the failure of regional bus provider easygo Lake Transit casting a pall over efforts to improve mass transit, according to the 2012 Quality of Life Indicators Report.

Transportation was one of only two categories appraised in the 2012 Indicators Report to receive an overall rating of "in decline."

The report states "many of the transit gains of the last decade have been lost."

Bus ridership in Northwest Indiana declined steeply from 2000 to 2010, according to the report. Ridership on the South Shore commuter railroad increased 2.84 percent during that time, according to the Northern Indiana Regional Commuter Transportation District. Average annual vehicle miles traveled on area roads increased by more than 3 percent.

Factionalism and failures to cooperate are the largest barriers to improving mass transit in the region, according to the report. There is now a pressing need to come up with "a fully integrated, regional action plan" for Northwest Indiana's transportation infrastructure.

The report focused on mass transit mainly because of the pressing needs in that area and because prior reports assembled by the Quality of Life Council established baselines for it, according to Tina Rongers, of Karnerblue Era LLC, who was research consultant for the project.

One Region hopes to broaden its transportation efforts to more fully include all modes of transport in the future, Rongers said.

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