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South Bend Transpo gears up for route changes this summer

Photo provided

Quality of life changes are coming to South Bend Transpo routes this summer as part of the bus service’s CONNECT plan that was approved last year after a round of community outreach and ridership analysis.

Late this summer, the bus service will change many of its routes to simplify them in the hopes of attracting more riders.

“We were looking at our current service at ‘Where are the needs and where are the gaps?'" said Transpo CEO Amy Hill. "And also what can we do to improve access to jobs and employment opportunities.”

The new routes largely clean up existing lines and will do away with one-way patterns some routes shift to in the evening. When the new routes take effect, they will operate both ways at all scheduled times.

A few routes — especially in downtown and the northwest side of South Bend — have also been broken into new routes with more direct flows. For example, instead of the 3A and 3B routes which run along Portage Avenue, there will be a new No. 2 route that runs out of downtown down Washington Street and then up Meade Street. Hill said the added Washington Street route will give even more coverage to the west side of South Bend.

In Mishawaka, the reconfigured No. 7 route will run from Notre Dame to the University Park Mall area, down into downtown Mishawaka. Previously that stretch was broken into two separate subroutes, but Hill said there was a focus on adding coverage to the area around the St. Joseph health system.

Some routes stick more closely will main streets so riders in more residential areas will want to check where their nearest stops are. The No. 8 route that runs along Miami Street will be shortened to run every hour instead of every 30 minutes. The route along Portage Avenue will also have run every 60 minutes.

Full maps of the new routes can be found on South Bend Transpo's website.

Hill explained the changes will be budget neutral, though Transpo has published proposed routes that could implimented over the next 10 years if the service receives increased funding. She said the biggest hurdle to clear before making the change is putting up new signs at all the new stops.

Hill added that Transpo is slowly building it's ridership back up from the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, more than 116,000 people rode a Transpo bus, which is an increase of 15% compared to last year.

"Like a lot of transportation systems across the country, we're struggling to rebuild our ridership post-COVID," Hill said. "So we're hoping to get back to those 2019 numbers and the last few months we've been seeing that."

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.