The Gary Public Transportation Corp. is considering service reductions that will be subject of a public hearing Thursday.
A budgetary shortfall would impact paratransit service and GPTC's Lakeshore routes, the agency announced recently. The adjustments include:
- Reduced paratransit service on Saturdays. The service provides free curb-to-curb rides to people unable to use the standard fixed-route bus system because of a disability. It currently starts at 5 a.m. Saturdays, but would be delayed until 8 a.m. with the changes. Weekday hours of 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. would not be affected.
- The Lakeshore Connection route would be reduced from once-an-hour departures to once every two hours. The route runs from Gary Metro Center west through East Chicago and into Hammond, with its westernmost stop at Sibley and Morton.
- Lakeshore South service has been cut back, with service suspended between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and after 6:30 p.m. weekdays. Saturday service has also been suspended. Lakeshore South, which runs on a loop between Sibley and Ridge Road, servicing Purdue University Northwest and the Hammond Clinic, could be eliminated completely in December.
The Lakeshore South route is funded by a federal grant paying half its cost, with GPTC picking up the other half.
"We are not at all happy about any of this," GPTC General Manager Daryl Lampkins said. "But we have no choice."
Lampkins said the agency hopes for outside funding to cover the $72,000 of local Lakeshore funding, and said GPTC has had conversations with potential partners. "The need is agreed upon, but no financial support has been offered," he said.
The Lakeshore routes were created in 2014, two years after the Northwest Indiana Regional Bus Authority disbanded.
Lampkins said he would like to see financial arrangements similar to ones with Merrillville for the new Broadway Metro Express and with East Chicago Transit and North Township in the South Shore Transit Alliance.
The Broadway Metro Express will offer more frequent and efficient service along Broadway, with Merrillville contributing money for a feeder service to connect to it.