Public bus service in Fort Wayne is taking a big step forward – and the private sector will be paying for most of the improvements.
With the help of about $200,000 from Parkview Hospital, Citilink will begin five-days-a-week service between Parkview's old campus on Randallia Drive and its new regional medical center on Dupont Road effective Jan. 7.
In addition, Greyhound and a new entry into the market – Megabus – will soon be using Citilink's new $4 million transfer station at Harrison and Baker streets.
Parkview's subsidy of the new route is crucial, General Manager Ken Housden said, because otherwise Citilink could not operate buses beyond its service territory, which in this case is Dupont Road. Parkview's new campus is on the north side of Dupont, “and the closest we can come now is about half-mile away,” Board Chairman Fred Lanahan said. Service to Parkview's old campus will also accommodate the adjacent Veterans Administration medical center.
The Parkview route will run hourly between 8 A.M and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the standard fare of $1.25. But the route also means Citilink will have to offer direct-response service to disabled riders, meaning they can now be taken to Parkview north and adjacent medical offices.
“This is a wonderful thing to be able to do,” said Lanahan, who hopes the deal with Parkview – which was years in the making -- can be duplicated with other private-sector funding sources in the future. Citilink already operates “Campuslink” with the help of Ivy Tech and IPFW.
Citilink's transfer station was designed to accommodate inter-city buses, and that is precisely what the addition of Greyhound and Megabus will provide, Housden said. Greyhound currently operates out of a former gas station at Lafayette Street and Washington Boulevard, and Citilink will become its ticket agent after the move takes effect in a few weeks.
Megabus, which began operations in 2006, bills itself as offering “luxury single- and double-deckers (with) free wi-fi, and at-seat plug-ins.” The company says it has served more than 22 million customers in more than 120 American cities. Its tickets – some of which sell for as little as $1 – will be available on line, Housden said. Greyhound and Megabus routes will be scheduled so they do not arrive and depart at the same time.
In other business Thursday, the board approved a new contract with about 100 unionized employees calling for a 2 percent raise in the first and second years and a 2.5 percent increase in the third. In addition, Bruce Miller – currently at Concordia Theological Seminary – was hired as controller.