VALPARAISO | Rising gasoline prices apparently are bringing rising ridership numbers on both the city's V-Line and ChicaGo Dash bus lines.
Assistant City Planner Tyler Kent, who also is the city's transit director, said Dash ridership was 4,064 in March, for an average of 88 riders a day for the weekday express commuter service to Chicago's Loop. Both numbers are all-time highs.
The V-Line intracity bus service had 7,791 riders, the second highest total in its 3 1/2 years of service, and two of the routes set new highs. The Yellow Route's 3,131 riders was the first time it topped 3,000, and the Green Route set a new high with 2,734.
The numbers for the other three city routes stayed consistent with recent ridership figures at 1,433 for the Brown Route, 320 for the Orange Route weekend shuttle to the South Shore's Dune Park station and 173 for the Red Route's weekend city service.
Kent said the Dash topped 100 riders on four different days during March. He said the Dash already has set new records in April with a high of 111.
"I'm elated," Kent said. "For the Dash, the gas prices are continuing to help, along with word of mouth and people just seeing the buses on the highways as they drive to and from work."
Riders are asking when a fourth bus will be added, but Kent said that's isn't being talked about yet. As for the V-Line, he said people are finding it easier to pay the $1 fare than pay for gas.
Two new buses are on order for the V-Line to replace two of the original buses, and the service now has a van to help when one of the routes gets behind schedule because of route deviations to pick up passengers or is delayed by traffic or a train. The city's newly revamped website has improved route maps and information about both bus services.