BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Taxpayer money will be utilized less in funding Bloomington-Normal’s public transportation service.

Connect Transit said Thursday it will not seek any capital funding from either the Town of Normal or the City of Bloomington in a historic first. General Manager David Braun said it’s due to a wider resource of federal and state grants.

“Over the last five years, we’ve received over $50 million in federal funds so we don’t really require the additional capital from the city and the town this year,” Braun said.

For the Town of Normal, the action will save them $550,000 in the next budget cycle and in the City of Bloomington, it will be a savings of $800,000. Braun said they were able to make many purchases and upgrades thanks to federal grants.

“We received some bus and bus facilities money from the federal government and that paid for our vehicles. We also received rebuild grants from the State of Illinois that also went to purchase about eight vehicles,” Braun said.

Braun said most of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and other COVID relief funds were spent toward improving driver safety.

“A lot of the pandemic funds, the CARES Act funds and the ARPA funds were used to purchase barriers for the buses on the drivers side so they wouldn’t have that interaction with passengers and potentially get sick,” Braun said.

Braun said they will consider doing this again in future years depending on their budgetary outlook. Regardless, Connect Transit will still rely on some sort of funding from the two municipalities.

“We still will require some operating dollars paid for just for our operations, the salaries and things like that. From the city it’s about $760,000 and the town it’s about $390,000,” Braun said.

Officials from the City of Bloomington declined to comment. However, Cathy Oloffson, director of communications at the Town of Normal sent WMBD a statement that reads:

Connect Transit notified the Town they have adequate funding to support their needs and will forego our planned support for the upcoming fiscal year. This is great news and demonstrates the true partnership between the Town and our public transit agency. Public transportation plays an important role in the lives of our residents and in the health of our community overall. The $550,000 originally budgeted for Connect Transit with be reinvested in our community.