The CONNECT Transit Plan (CONNECT), a collaborative, 10-year plan for interurban transportation in the Michiana area, has entered its final stage of development and is seeking to make major improvements to the area’s transit systems over the coming decade.
It is not the fastest way to get there, but ... generally it has been on time when I have ridden it.
— Kathy Meyer Reimer
It is also especially important to Goshen College’s community, since students, staff and faculty have free admission with their GC IDs.
The plan has been spearheaded by the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) and funded by a Federal Transit Grant.
When it’s all done, it will be a road map for improving transportation systems in the area for the next 10 years.
Among the systems a part of this development plan that they hope to improve is Elkhart County’s very own interurban trolley.
In 2022, the trolley saw 618 reported rides specifically from GC ID cards. With differences in how farebox data and overall ridership data is calculated accounted for, this came out to around three and a half rides from members of the GC community per business day.
Eduardo Curvo, a junior accounting major, uses the trolley every weekday to commute to his internship and relies on it consistently.
“It feels like a mix of a bus and a train,” he said. “They’re somewhat similar to school buses but more comfortable, and with better seats.”
Curvo also noted that arrivals are “consistently within a ten minute window from the scheduled time.”
Kathy Meyer Reimer, a professor of education at GC with years of experience riding the trolley, stated, “It is not the fastest way to get there, but you can read on the way and they drop you right at the door and it means you aren’t driving a car with one person in it. Generally it has been on time when I have ridden it.”
As Meyer Reimer hinted, effective public transportation systems present greener alternatives for riders concerned with limiting their carbon footprint.
However, there are students who have expressed complaints about the trolley.
Jakyra Green, a junior English and education major, said, “I haven’t used the trolley since last semester because it is so unreliable with either extended wait times or canceled bus routes. It’s even worse when it’s cold outside and the bus never shows up.”
MACOG and the other coordinating organizations are looking to hear as much as they can from the community about any issues they can solve.
Although the draft for the plan will be finished in the near future, CONNECT is still soliciting feedback. A survey can be found at https://bit.ly/3jpqopS and will be available to the public until Feb. 7. In an event held on Jan. 12 in Goshen Public Library, MACOG and the South Bend Transportation Corporation showcased CONNECT’s draft, open to feedback from members of the public.
It was announced then that the city of Goshen has already committed to adding two more buses to its arsenal. They are also considering the possibilities of adding more stops and increasing service to once every 15 minutes, rather than once every 30 as is currently provided..
Furthermore, MACOG has considered extending the trolley’s route within Goshen to increase the number of options available to the people who use it.
With CONNECT, MACOG hopes to improve the scope and consistency of all of the public transportation in Michiana, but it expects to make a big positive impact in Goshen.
And, as Curvo noted, the trolley is important “for international students or anyone without a car,” which makes up a large part of GC’s student base.
As plans for the interurban trolley’s improvement develop, students hope to see a fully accessible and reliable public transport system implemented in their area.