Sen. Hutchinson with Channel 9KANKAKEE COUNTY – Three days a week, Jane Binner wakes up early to catch a River Valley Metro shuttle, her first step in a long commute to the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I will be graduating in the spring with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree,” Binner said. “It’s been a rough journey, but the end is finally in sight.”

Binner doesn't trust her aging car to get her to classes. She's one of thousands in the region who count on the availability and reliability of the River Valley Metro’s shuttle service. Now, that service is jeopardized.

Binner joined local State Senator Toi Hutchinson to tell her story at a news conference Tuesday in response to recent news that the Kankakee-area transit agency would be suspending bus services on November 18 due to a lack of state funding.

110116dh0007SM“The people standing here today are just trying to live their lives, but once again, they are bearing the brunt of the ridiculousness in Springfield,” said Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “To make matters worse, we have a governor and comptroller handing out nearly $4 million in bonuses to state bureaucrats while everyone waiting for funding, including River Valley Metro, gets pushed to the back of the line. This is no way to run a state.”

In an effort to extend bus services for as long as possible, River Valley Metro eliminated two bus routes and ended Sunday and holiday service. The changes, which take effect today, will allow the agency to continue operating until the beginning of the year.

“The elimination of two service routes, and the $600,000 line of credit we are negotiating, does buy us some time, but it does nothing to remedy the fact that we haven’t received any funding from the state since last year,” River Valley Metro CEO Rob Hoffmann said. “At some point, we will run out of options and be forced to shut down.”

River Valley Metro provided approximately 930,000 rides last year and has seen average annual ridership increases of 17 percent since 2004. The agency operates 12 fixed routes throughout the Kankakee urbanized area as well as commuter services to Midway Airport and the University Park Metra station and door-to-door services for riders with disabilities.110116dh0009

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