V-Line ridership up, again

Valpo seeking grants for operating bus line
2010-05-12T00:00:00Z V-Line ridership up, againBy Phil Wieland - phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Ridership on the V-Line intracity bus line increased for the fourth month in a row to a total of 5,965 in April despite a slight drop on both the Green and Yellow routes.

City Transit Director Tyler Kent said the Green Route had 2,290 riders while the Yellow had 2,356, a total drop of about 200 combined. The Brown Route, which serves Valparaiso University, was up about 300 to 1,039.

The weekend Orange Route shuttle to the Dune Park South Shore station rose 70 from March to 218, and the Red Route, which runs on Friday evenings, Saturday and Sundays in the city, had 62 riders, almost double its March total.

The city is accepting proposals until June 9 from companies interested in operating both the V-Line and the ChicaGo Dash, the express commuter bus from Valparaiso to Chicago's Loop. The proposals will be opened at the June 10 meeting of the city's Board of Public Works and Safety, and Kent said the finalists will be interviewed June 28. A recommendation on the winner will go to the board of works on July 8.

The V-Line service is completing its third year in September, and its federal startup operating grant will be expiring. Kent said the service has enough of the money from the congestion mitigation and air quality program of the federal highway bill to last another six months. He applied for a $138,000 grant to cover the cost of contracting for a company to operate the service for another six months.

That will put the city on the same fiscal cycle as the Federal Transportation Authority, which starts July 1 each year. After that the city will seek funding for a full year.

Of the ridership totals, Kent said, "It's encouraging to see more and more people using it. They are getting acclimated to the service, the time schedule and the routes and fit that into their daily schedules."

He said he will wait until a new operator is hired to determine if any changes are needed to the routes. He is seeking funding for more bus shelters for the V-Line too.

The Dash ridership remained about the same from previous months, averaging a total of 54 a day on the three routes. He predicted it could increase in the coming months as the cost of gasoline rises. Adding a stop in Hobart also is in the works, and he is seeking grants to cover the additional time to pay for that service.

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