VALPARAISO | As Valparaiso prepares to start a study of how to improve service on the V-Line intracity bus line, monthly ridership took a big jump in August -- shattering the previous high by about 2,000.
City Planning Director Tyler Kent said total ridership in August was 11,809 as each route experienced record or near record highs. The biggest jump was the Green Route, which had 4,683, about 1,000 more than its previous record.
The Yellow Route had 3,589, the Brown Route 2,653, the Orange Route 494, the Red Route 364 and there were 26 rescue pickups.
"This is very good news," Kent said said of the ridership. "Having consistency over the summer helped."
The city decided to keep the Brown Route, designed to serve Valparaiso University students, operating through the summer rather than discontinuing it when classes ended in May as it previously had. Even without the usual student population, ridership on the Brown Route stayed high.
"I'm glad we will be doing the study," Kent said. "If the ridership keeps growing at this rate, we have to figure out if we need more buses or bigger buses to meet the demand. It's a good problem to have."
The city is working out the final details of the transit study contract for the V-Line with RLS and Associates, of Dayton, Ohio. Kent said it should be ready for final approval by the city's Board of Public Works and Safety at its Sept. 27 meeting.
The study probably will run to the end of this year or the beginning of next year at a cost of $100,000 with 80 percent covered by federal funds. The rest will come from the city's share of the county economic development income tax that is budgeted for the V-Line operation.
"We're about to start our seventh year. When we first started, McDonald Transit drew up a plan that was just to get the service going. (The new study will let the city see) what it is doing well what we need to improve."
The consultants will hold a number of public meetings and make other efforts to talk to the public and riders. Those details are still being worked out.