Rockford city buses are still running, for now, but two threats hover over the Rockford Mass Transit District: the possibility of a driver’s strike, and the state’s budget woes. A spokesperson saying they may have to cut services beginning in January if a budget is not passed.
“If there’s no state funding coming anytime soon and we end the year with no state funding. January will be a different story,” says Lisa Brown, a spokesperson for RMTD.
The state funds 65% of RMTD’s budget for the more than 1.6 million rides it provides each year.
With such a large percentage of funding counting on the state, riders are worried what will happen to them.
“I don’t have a car,” says Rockford resident Deborah Horton. “I’ve been here for over 45 years. How am I supposed to get around if I can’t ride the bus?”
Most people who take public transportation don’t have the means to afford a car and rely on it daily.
“Don’t shut down, cause we don’t have no other way to get to our destinations,” says community activist Prophet Yusef.
Some, like resident Horice Modest, even fear that if the buses are cut back or taken away, then the crime rate in Rockford will go up with it. “If you ever want to see crime raise up, take away the bus system.”
As for the threat of a drivers’ strike, one was scheduled for this week, but was canceled because their union did not provide enough notice. It could begin as soon as next week.