VALPARAISO | Both the city's bus services set new highs for ridership and one received an award from the governor.
The ChicaGo Dash express commuter bus to Chicago's Loop averaged 71 riders each way in September, up from the previous high of 69 set in August. The Dash is just beginning its third year of operation, and it was recognized in September with the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence.
Assistant City Planner Tyler Kent, who also is the city's transit director, said the award was presented to him and City Administrator Bill Oeding on Sept. 22 at the Indiana Partners for Pollution Prevention conference in Plainfield, Ind.
Meanwhile, the V-Line intracity buses had the best August of its three-year service and followed it in September by setting a record for monthly ridership.
Total ridership in August was 6,262, with the Yellow Route carrying 2,498 people, the Green Route 2,578, the Brown Route 1,103, the Orange Route 51 and the Red Route 32. Summer months usually average 4,000 to 5,000 riders because the Brown Route, which is designed to serve Valparaiso University students, is shut down while classes are out.
When classes resume late in August, V-Line ridership rises somewhat, but it was the record highs for the Yellow and Green routes that boosted the service this year. August also was the final month of the city's contract with McDonald Transit Associates for operating the buses.
In September, Ride Right took over and had a record-breaking start with 7,238 riders. The Yellow and Green routes were down a little from August at 2,356 and 2,343, respectively, and the Brown Route rose to 2,115, the Orange had 298 and the Red had 126. The Orange Route is the weekend shuttle to the South Shore's Dune Park station, and the Red Route runs only on weekends in the city.
"I'm extremely happy," Kent said of the ridership numbers. "It's very encouraging that riders are continuing to use the service in growing numbers. We are getting the new operators settled in, and in the spring or early summer we will have a consultant come in and assess the routes and review the services.
"We just started the third year of operation, and it's probably a good time to assess the service and see if improvements can be made."