VALPARAISO | Whether it was a couple of feet of snow spread out over a month or a couple feet all in one day, it didn't keep people from riding the V-Line.
General Manager Ryan Landers said Tuesday's blizzard conditions and close to 2 feet of snow forced the city's bus line to shut down at 3 p.m.
"We kept running until around 2 p.m., then we had a delay and we finally shut down for the rest of the day at 3," Landers said. "We had quite a few riders right up until we stopped running. We had people on the buses that needed to get home, so we had the buses drop them off and they would pick up anyone standing by the road."
He said they received a lot of calls for pickups and from people wondering if the buses were running that day, but everyone seemed to understand when service was halted.
About 2 feet of snow fell in smaller doses throughout January. The cold, snow and the concluding week of Christmas vacation for Valparaiso University students didn't seem to have a major impact on ridership.
A total of 6,412 people boarded the V-Line in January, its second highest total ever. The Yellow and Green Routes held steady or gained a little with 1,801 and 2,034 respectively, while the Brown Route, which serves VU, had 2,235. The Orange Route, which runs on weekends to the South Shore's Dune Park rail station, had 342 riders.
"The weather was a little difficult in January, and I think people still need to find out about the V-Line," he said. "A lot of people are interested, and, the more we get it out there, the more people will want to ride. We're thinking of extending the hours for the Green and Yellow routes because we've had some questions about that from riders.
"We are looking to see if it is feasible. We have to look at the numbers in the budget, and I have put in a suggestion. I think it can work, but we will have to wait to see if it is feasible with the money we have. We also are looking at running the Orange Route during the week to go with the ChicaGo Dash. I think that's something we can incorporate."
Assistant City Planner Tyler Kent, also the city's transit director, said a decision on the shuttle service could be made in the next two weeks. It would serve riders of the ChicaGo Dash express commuter bus, who have to stay late and miss the last Dash bus back to Valparaiso. They could take the South Shore to the Dune Park station and ride the shuttle back to the Village Station parking lot.
Kent said the problem with adding service is that it would have to be done with the amount of money already allotted in the federal grants to operate the V-Line. Landers is optimistic expansion of the service could work.
"There is potential for the system to grow a lot," Landers said. "The numbers are fairly good right now, but we're up north where it snows, and we have to deal with those issues."