Valpo buses have more riders, higher fuel costs

2011-05-15T00:00:00Z Valpo buses have more riders, higher fuel costsBy Phil Wieland, (219) 548-4352

VALPARAISO | The cost of fuel is going up and federal operating funds are going down for the city's two bus services, but ridership continues to hold steady or grow.

Assistant City Planner Tyler Kent said the average daily ridership for the three ChicaGo Dash routes was just under 91 during April. Total ridership of 3,807 was down from March's record high of 4,064, but March had two more service days, which made the April average the highest yet.

Kent said fuel cost an additional $2,000 on the Dash in March, but he didn't have the invoice for fuel from the operator for April yet. The Dash had 32,260 riders for all of 2010 and has had 14,605 through April this year. The city is putting together specifications to get security cameras for the Village Station area.

With its three-year federal startup funding ending later this year for the Dash, Kent said the city is working to control expenses and raise revenue. So far, revenue this year has exceeded expectations, and Stuart Summers, executive director of the city's Redevelopment Commission, which is helping fund the bus service, said an effort is being made to build up a cushion.

Kent said the service will still be eligible for operating assistance from the feds, but it will only pay for a third of the cost. Summers said the city is paying $18,000 a year to rent the space at the Franklin House for the station. To cut costs, the city plans to end the lease when it runs out.

The city can do that because it is getting a heated facility soon that can accommodate the passengers while they wait for the bus and provide secure storage for a dozen or so bicycles for those who want to leave the car at home. Kent said several people now walk or ride to the station daily to catch the buses.

The V-Line intracity buses continued to show good ridership numbers in April with a total of 7,162. Kent said total ridership so far this year has been 30,177 compared to last year's total of 22,906 through the first four months.

Ridership on the individual routes was as follows: Yellow, 2,570; Green, 2,391; Brown, 1,582; Orange, 404, and Red, 177.

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