VALPARAISO | Ridership on the V-Line increased each month since December despite not having a full month of classes at Valparaiso University.
Valparaiso Transit Director Tyler Kent said ridership in February was up almost 150 over January's to 5,672, while March fares rose to 5,741. January had an increase of almost 1,000 over December, when VU students, who provide a significant portion of the riders in months when school is in session, were gone for the holidays.
The holidays took away some VU riders in January and spring break in February and March also had an impact. The lower numbers were on the Brown line, which serves the university and dipped to 1,376 in February and only 712 in March But there were more than made up by significant increases on the two permanent main routes.
The Yellow Route had 1,890 riders in February, an increase of 99, and the Green Route rose 154 to 2,019. Kent said better weather and rising gasoline prices probably contributed to more increases on those two routes in March, when ridership was 2,396 and 2,460.
The Orange Route weekend shuttle to the South Shores Dune Park rail station also showed the effect of the decreased VU attendance. It rose to 333 in February, an increase of 99, but sank to 148 in March. Red Route ridership continues to be low with 54 in February and 35 in March. The Red line runs Friday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday. The Green and Yellow lines only run Monday through Saturday.
"This spring and summer, we will look at the numbers for the Red line to see what we need to do to either get more ridership or possibly change the route," Kent said. "We are not thinking about eliminating is at this time."
Kent said the city will be adding more bus shelters during the spring and summer.
The board will hold a special meeting today to approve a lease agreement with NIRPC for the four new 53-passenger buses bought for the Dash express commuter service to Chicago.
The city plans to preview the buses to the public Wednesday at 4 p.m. in front of City Hall, and they will begin service Monday.