No buses on Sunday? This issue won’t walk away
“This is a really, really bad situation,” said Gregory Johnson. He’s a cashier at the East Peoria Kroger’s Store. He normally takes the bus to work. Except Sunday. On Sunday he walks. And it isn’t for the exercise.
The problem is two-fold. The Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (City Link) doesn’t have late evening bus service to the communities surrounding Peoria (like East Peoria and Bartonville), not to mention some busy lines inPeoria itself. And, there is no bus service — period — on Sunday. People who need a City Link ride simply have to make arrangements elsewhere.
So Johnson walks. It takes him about an hour.
Fed up, he started a petition to urge City Link to expand services.
“This is long overdue,” he said. “People are very eager to get a modification.”
And is he getting an earful from other riders.
He talked with one man who literally sleeps outside, on the ground, overnight on Saturday so he can get to work in North Peoria on Sunday. Another lady begs and pleads with her employer to give her enough hours on Sunday to justify the taxi-cab ride into town. Anything less than five hours, and she’s essentially paying for the privilege of working.
He’s gotten some publicity, but little else.
He appeared before the mass transit board. They sat there politely and thanked him for his comments, then took no action. He also spoke before the Peoria City Council. They also politely listened, and then Mayor Ardis directed him to the transit board saying any decisions are up to them. Which isn’t exactly true. The Peoria City Council appoints three out of six members of this board. One would think this situation gives the city some say in bus service policy.
This issue has come up before. The board always shrugs its collective shoulders and does nothing.
But it’s not going to go away.
“This is just going to get bigger and bigger, Johnson said. “I’m not going to calm down without getting an answer. I’m tired of walking to work on Sundays.”
He said money is not the issue.
Well, it’s not the only issue. Oil prices are sky high. And there are environmental concerns. With everyone thinking “green” why isn’t City Link trying to expand bus service to get people driving cars less and taking the bus more? City Councilman Gary Sandberg — perhaps jokingly — suggested to me that the city stop subsidizing parking decks for businesses that operate down town and start subsidizing bus service.
We should have Sunday bus service. We should have expanded late evening service. We also need “neighborhood circulators” and every-15-minutes pick ups on heavily trafficked routes.
And I contend that it’s a far better way to spend transportation dollars on bus services than establishing rail service — either Peoria to Chicago or Peoria to Bloomington to Chicago — or an eastern bypass for cars.