VALPARAISO | The V-Line buses now go to Porter's Vale shopping center and Wal-Mart.
The buses on the Green Route and the Brown Route began taking passengers to the new destinations on Monday. So far, only Office Depot and J.C. Penney are open at Porter's Vale, but the 12-screen Cinemark theater plans to open in May while a Rue21 store will open this month and a Justice Just for Girls store in May.
V-Line General Manager Ryan Landers said total ridership for March was down about 500 because of the spring break at Valparaiso University when no classes were held for two weeks. That reduced traffic on the Brown Route to 638, less than half the February total.
It also affected the Orange Route shuttle to the South Shore's Dune Park station, which operates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Landers said the midnight runs on Friday and Saturday were eliminated for the three weekends of the spring break and total ridership for the month was 243 as compared to 377 in February.
Ridership on the two city routes, the Yellow and Green routes, both topped 1,000 for the first time since bus service began in October. The Green Route had 1,136 riders and the Yellow 1,116. That was a total increase of more than 300 over February.
"More and more people are on the city routes," Landers said. "It was a little slow because of the students not being there, but it was good because we planned the new routes that started (Monday)."
Plans to have all the buses equipped with bike racks and electronic destination signs over the doors had to be postponed because of the need to repair some buses. Landers said the work probably will be done in late May when things slow as a result of the summer break at VU.
"We keep encouraging people to ride the bus, especially with the gas prices the way they are now," he said. "It's the smart thing to do."