VALPARAISO | Bad weather and the holidays cut into V-Line ridership in December.
Total ridership was 4,640 for the month, about 1,000 less than November. General Manager Ryan Landers said the buses shut down at 3 p.m. on both Christmas and New Year's Eve. No buses operated on Christmas, and the Red Route was discontinued for the Sunday after Christmas.
The Brown Route, which serves Valparaiso University, shut down Dec. 19 when students went on Christmas break and did not resume until Monday.
"It wasn't too bad," Landers said of the drop in ridership. "Even some of the days we had a lot of ice on the roads, and we were running a bit behind schedule, we still had our regular riders. Our numbers are basically keeping steady. I think the Brown Route will go up this semester as the students get familiar with the routes. We could see a big jump in the numbers with no time off in January and February."
With weather and traffic, Landers said the V-Line had to use the dispatchers to drive the buses to try to keep up the schedule.
"We're doing as much as we can so people will not have to wait too long. Any way we can help the drivers and the passengers is what we want to do," Landers said. "At times it does get really busy in the office and it's hard to get out there. We got a couple of comments that the afternoon routes usually are behind from 2 to 6 p.m. People don't understand there is a lot more traffic and we pick up a lot of passengers in a small space of time."
In looking for ways to reduce the time people ride the buses to reach destinations, Landers said he would like to change the routes to run every 30 to 40 minutes instead of every hour. He said that would require taking stops off the routes and readjusting the route as well as possibly adding buses to the fleet. While the passengers would like to see it, more buses are not in the plans because the ridership is low.
"If we averaged 400 to 500 riders a day, we could justify it, but now we get 200, 250 or 300," Landers said.
The city is looking for ways to tweak the routes to be more rider friendly, and Landers said people should call if they have any suggestions.
"If there are other places people would like to go, that might help us in making decisions on how to fix the routes," he said. "We are a service, and we are here to do what the people want us to do -- to a certain point."
Yellow Route: 1,656
Green Route: 1,865
Brown Route: 859
Red (Sunday) Route: 49
Orange (Dune Park shuttle): 211