VALPARAISO | The start of classes at Valparaiso University later this month will signal a number of changes in the V-Line bus system, including Sunday service.
When the Brown Route, which serves university students, resumes Aug. 24, the bus will run every half hour, instead of hourly, but it will run two different routes. One route will go to the Porter's Vale Shopping Center, Ivy Tech, Valparaiso Marketplace and, for the first time, Valparaiso Walk shopping center. The alternate route will go to Wal-Mart and downtown.
Assistant City Planner Tyler Kent, who also is the city's transit director, said a new community route is being added as part of the Orange Route, which now runs to the South Shore's Dune Park station. The Orange Route bus will alternate between the Dune Park trips and the community route, which will take in most of the major corridors of the city. Each circuit will take about an hour, as does the Dune Park trip.
The community route will be the only city bus service on Sundays. The Yellow and Green Routes run hourly from Monday through Saturday, and the Orange route will be added to the Friday and Saturday service beginning at 1 p.m. Friday.
"We are staying within budget," Kent said. "I applied for additional funding last year thinking the fuel costs would be $6 a gallon, so the money is available to use for this. We will try the new route for three months to see how it does and then decide if we will continue it."
The buses also will be running later in the evening. Instead of the last bus halting operations around 6:30 p.m., buses will run until 8 p.m. The Green Route also will add a stop at Ivy Tech, he said.
All the changes still have to be approved by the Valparaiso Board of Public Works and Safety, which is expected to take place Thursday. V-Line General Manager Ryan Landers said the changes should mean increased ridership.
"People have been asking for the Sunday service, the Ivy Tech stop and the later hours," Landers said. "That's all the things they wanted, and now we will have the city's support."
Kent said he's also looking for more funding to put up additional bus shelters. The first two are on order. He also hopes to add more benches to the nine already in place. Three will be added to Calumet Avenue after landscaping and sidewalk work is completed between Wall Street and the Canadian National tracks.
Ridership on the Green Route hit a new high in July with 2,120, while the Yellow Route was down slightly from June to 1,896. With 73 riders using the Orange Route shuttle to the South Shore's Dune Park station, total ridership for the month was 4,089, a decrease of 135 from June.
Landers predicted resuming the Brown Route and the additional services will increase monthly ridership to between 7,500 and 8,000 by October with half of that coming from the Brown Route. The previous high monthly total was just over 7,000 with the Brown Route topping out at about 2,700.
-- Buses will run until 8 p.m., instead of 6:30 p.m.
-- The Community Route will run on Sundays
-- Brown Route service to Valparaiso University with run every half hour, instead of hourly, when it resumes Aug. 24
-- The Brown Route will have two separate paths. One will run downtown and to Wal-Mart. The other will go to Porter's Vale Shopping Center, Ivy Tech, Valparaiso Marketplace and, for the first time, Valparaiso Walk shopping center.