Indiana Time

Debate 1:
Daylight Saving

Debate 2:
Eastern vs Central 
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South Bend Time - St Joseph County Indiana
The decision to place a county in a time zone is up to the Secretary of Transportation. All decisions are made "for the convenience of commerce".

(Please see Eastern vs Central for an overview of the Eastern vs Central debate.)
Politicians and residents of St Joseph and Marshall County are typically the leaders of efforts to either move all of Indiana to Central Time or to cease observing Daylight Saving Time. Ending Daylight Saving Time would be a statewide issue (please see Daylight Saving for a discussion). This page will focus on the issue of changing the time zone for South Bend (St Joseph County) and Plymouth (Marshall County),

The South Bend TV Market
With the majority of TV Stations in the South Bend TV Market being in St Joseph County a change in St Joseph County would affect eight other counties currently on Eastern Time (shown in yellow above). (Starke County is also in the South Bend TV Market but they observe Central Time. LaPorte County and other dark red counties are in the Chicago TV Market.)

While not all counties in the South Bend TV Market would be required to move to Central Time with St Joseph and Marshall Counties, the TV market is an area of commerce that is tied together. Viewers in that area see the same TV stations and the same commercials as other viewers in that area. Viewers outside of that area see stations and commercials from other markets.

The current time zone boundary follows the TV Market, except for Starke County which has no TV stations and has proven to the USDOT that their commerce connections are stronger to LaPorte and the Chicago market than to South Bend and Indianapolis.

Basic Economic Area

Basic Economic Areas are another way the Federal government divides the nation into commerce areas. The South Bend BEA includes all of the counties in the South Bend TV Market plus St Joseph County Michigan. All counties except Starke County (as noted above) are in Eastern Standard Time).

Economic Growth Regions

The Indiana Department of Workplace Development has divided Indiana into 11 regions. While Region 1 in northwest Indiana and Region 11 in southwest Indiana are larger than the Central Time footprint in those areas, Region 2 covers the five county area of St Joseph, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Marshall and Fulton counties. Further supporting the concept of a Greater Michiana area.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation also groups the five counties together as their North Central Region.
Commuter Flows
According to figures available from the US Census, 104,227 people resided and also worked in St Joseph County. St Joseph County drew 9,831 workers from Berrien and Cass County Michigan (10,307 from all Michigan counties). St Joseph County drew 4,935 from Elkhart County, 3,260 from Laporte County, 3,181 from Marshall County and 238 from Kosciusko County. More people commute to St Joseph County from Elkhart County alone than all Central Time counties combined (including Illinois).

12,920 commuters leave St Joseph County to work in Elkhart County. 7,790 commuters leave St Joseph County for any other county in Indiana, Michigan or Illinois. It is obvious that there are strong ties between St Joseph and Elkhart Counties. The map above shows the total commuter flow between St Joseph and other counties (inbound and outbound). The map to the right shows Elkhart County's commuter connections.

What separates St Joseph County from Elkhart County?
Politics. St Joseph County is a "blue" county, generally voting for Democratic party candidates for local and national elections. LaPorte County and others to the west also lean Democratic. Elkhart County and the surrounding counties in Michigan and Indiana are "red" counties, generally voting for Republican party candidates. If time zone boundaries were drawn by political party St Joseph County would be in Chicago Time. Time zones boundaries are drawn based on commerce. Commerce based reasoning should be followed.

Results from 2006
If it seems like we have discussed this all before one should look at the results of the last attempt to change the time zone in South Bend. Here is what the DOT wrote about St Joseph County:

         St. Joseph County addressed all the factors that we consider in its petition and explained why changing to the Central Time Zone could serve "the convenience of commerce." Of all the petitions received by DOT requesting a move from the Eastern Time Zone to the Central Time Zone, however, the petition from St. Joseph County was the most controversial and generated the most comment. One third of the 6000 comments to the docket addressed the St. Joseph County petition and more than 200 people attended the public hearing in South Bend, with over 150 presenting comments.

The written comments to the docket concerning the St. Joseph County petition were almost equaIIy divided between supporting and opposing a change from the Eastern to the Central Time Zone. Those supporting a change cited the close ties of the county to Chicago and the Midwest and the fact that their neighboring counties to the west were all in the Central Time Zone. A representative of the South shore railroad complained that it was the only commuter railroad in the country that deals with two time zones for its schedule.

Significantly, a substantial number of those supporting a move to the Central Time Zone acknowledged that the surrounding counties to the east and south, Elkhart, Kosciusko, and Marshall, should also be moved to the Central Time Zone because of their close ties to St. Joseph County. Even though Elkhart and Kosciusko had not sought a change and DOT did not propose to move Marshall, these commenters urged that St. Joseph County be changed in hopes of "forcing" the other counties to move to the Central Time Zone.

On the other hand, a sizable number of commenters (40%) opposed moving St. Joseph County to the Central Time Zone citing the close ties of the Michiana area, including workforce districts and media markets as well as educational, recreational, and health care opportunities. Many of these commenters spoke about their frequent cross-county trips and trips between Indiana and lower Michigan for personal and business reasons, complaining that they would be made more difficult by changing the time zone boundary of only a single county. They feared that this would create problems for businesses and citizens alike. Indeed, one might characterize these commenters' view of moving only St. Joseph County as promoting the "inconvenience of commerce" rather than furthering the statutory goal "for the convenience of commerce."

We give substantial consideration to the views of local elected officials because the foundation of our time zone boundary proceedings rest upon their requests. We note that although the President of St. Joseph County signed the county petition, spoke in favor of it at the South Bend hearing, and subsequently submitted an additional letter of support to the docket, as a member of the Michiana Council of Governments (MACOG), she also made a motion to "support the sending of a letter by the policy board to ask that the four county region all remain in the same time zone." In addition, a second St. Joseph County Commissioner submitted comments to the docket opposing a move to the Central Time Zone. Based on the conflicting views of the county commissioners in St. Joseph County and 2 local mayors and the information submitted showing St. Joseph's ties to the Michiana area including Elkhart and Kosciusko Counties that did not petition for a change, we believe that a time zone change, at this time, would not be for the convenience of commerce. DOT, therefore, is not changing the time zone boundary for St. Joseph County. St. Joseph County will remain in the Eastern Time Zone.

Has anything changed? While St Joseph County petitioners were able to present a petition that was good enough to warrant a public hearing, they were not able to demonstrate a consensus among county leaders or the public. When Central Time proponents raise the issue the reasons for change are typically the same reasons rejected by the USDOT in 2006 - non-commerce reasoning.

Until St Joseph County can get a consensus of their own leadership and of neighboring counties and present and sustain a commerce based rational for changing to Central Time it is better that the time and energy be spent elsewhere. The status quo should be followed. Eastern Time for Indiana.