Online Staff Report
Rockford Mass Transit District will start fixed-route bus service to Belvidere Monday, Oct. 24. Service will run Monday through Friday, from 7:20 a.m. until 5:20 p.m. A ribbon-cutting will be at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Oct. 24, at the Boone County Council on Aging to launch the service. The public is invited to attend.
This historic event marks the first time Belvidere has had fixed route bus service in the community. The bus route will originate at the RMTD East Side Transfer Center, 725 Lyford Road, at 20 minutes after every hour. The hour route will traverse through the main streets of Belvidere, stopping at key locations including the Keen Age Center, City Hall, SwedishAmerican Medical Center, and Kmart.
The No. 24 Belvidere route is designed to work in cooperation with the origin to destination transit services provided by Boone County Council on Aging. “With the limited seed money we have available to us, we have put forth a route that will hit the central corridor of Belvidere,” states RMTD Executive Director Richard W. McVinnie. “However, Belvidere is a large area. Therefore, those that cannot easily access the RMTD route can schedule a ride with Boone County Council on Aging. BCCA will pick up anyone living in Boone County and take them to the nearest point along the RMTD route or take them from the route to the final destination within Boone County. It is a great cooperative effort for all concerned,” adds McVinnie.
The cost to ride the RMTD route is $1.50 for adult riders. Students, persons with disabilities, seniors and those enrolled in the Illinois Circuit Breaker Program will be allowed to ride at the designated discounted fare provided they have valid RMTD ID cards to correspond with the fare category. Passengers utilizing BCCA services to connect to and/or from the RMTD route will be subject to BCCA rate structure.
The Belvidere service is being funded through a federal Job Access Reverse Commute grant (JARC grant), which provides up to 50 percent of the cost of service. The remaining cost of service is being funded through the State of Illinois Downstate Operating Grant. The intention of a JARC grant is to provide seed money for new start transit services. The seed money usually funds approximately 12 months of service. When the grant is finished, it is then up to the individual communities to determine how they will fund the portion of service not covered by the state operating grant.
RMTD has been working on developing service to Belvidere for several years. In 2005, a Transportation Summit was held with community leaders and stakeholders addressing transportation barriers to employment. Public transportation to Belvidere was identified as the number one area needing to be addressed. Since that time to the present, Belvidere service continued to be a need, although the economy was the main factor in service delays. “We are very excited to be offering service at this time,” states Belvidere Mayor Fred Brereton. “Our community has a lot of opportunities which can now be available to the entire region. From increased employment opportunities to unique retail destinations, Belvidere offers a lot to RMTD riders. We also know that Belvidere residents are eager to go into Rockford for goods and services, so this new route is definitely a benefit for all,” continued Brereton.
The community is invited to join the City of Belvidere, Boone County, Boone County Council on Aging and the Rockford Mass Transit District at the service Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Oct. 24, at the Keen Age Center, 2141 Henry Luckow Lane, Belvidere.
RMTD provides more than 1.6 million rides each year. The District has a fleet of 64 fixed route and paratransit vehicles, and offers 18 hours of service, Monday through Fridays, 13 hours of service on Saturdays, and eight hours on Sundays. RMTD also provides service to Loves Park, Machesney Park and Belvidere.