VALPARAISO | Bus shelters should be arriving soon for the city's V-Line bus service, and the city hopes to expand service to evening and possibly Sunday hours when students return to classes at Valparaiso University next month.
Ryan Landers, general manager for V-Line, said June was the best month for ridership since last August, with the numbers rising and new riders trying the buses every day.
"We are changing the routes to accommodate more people," Landers said. "With a little more word of mouth and advertising, the system can definitely grow. People need to understand it's there, and they need to try it out."
For June, ridership had increased on the Yellow and Green Routes by about 300 compared to May, with 2,090 and 2,069 riders, respectively. The Brown Route, which serves mostly VU, has been shut down until university classes resume. The Orange Route shuttle to the South Shore's Dune Park station had increased by 65 riders for a total of 4,224.
Landers said about 20 of those shuttle riders were ChicaGo Dash commuters taking advantage of the guaranteed ride home. Riders on the express commuter bus from Valparaiso to Chicago's Loop can ride the shuttle free back to the Village Station depot if they work late and take the train home. Landers said some people also have asked for shuttle service to the train in the morning to avoid the parking hassles.
"We're capable of doing it and if the city wants to do it," he said. "It's part of our request to the city for later hours and Sunday service."
He said the Sunday service would be north of the downtown. Buses also will begin making stops at Ivy Tech in the months ahead.
Assistant City Planner Tyler Kent, who also is the city's transit director, said two bus shelters are being ordered by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, which serves as the conduit for the federal funds for the city's bus services. The shelters should be up by the end of the summer.
As for the proposal to expand the V-Line's service, Kent said he discussed the options last week with McDonald Transit Associates, which operates the buses, and he's waiting to see its proposal for costs.