VALPARAISO | As ridership on the V-Line intracity bus system continues to improve, the city will seek proposals soon from consultants to do a route analysis to see if it could be doing even better.
City Planning Director Tyler Kent got approval from the city's Board of Public Works and Safety on Thursday for an agreement with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission on the ground rules for hiring the consultant. The city has a grant from the Federal Transit Authority to pay 80 percent of the $100,000 cost of the study.
The request for proposals is being reviewed by NIRPC, and Kent said he expects to send it out to consultants in 30 to 60 days. He said the study will determine if the city needs more buses, bigger buses, more routes, more stops or other changes to encourage ridership.
"I wouldn't want them to come back and say we are doing a perfect job," he said. "I'm keeping an open mind. We are continuing to see ridership increases, and the buses at times are at capacity. So, it will be interesting to see what they come up with."
The service started in October 2007 with about 2,000 riders the first month and now regularly gets more than 9,000 a month with a high of more than 10,000. In 2012 total ridership reached 100,000 for the year for the first time. The study will deal only with the V-Line and not include the ChicaGo Dash commuter service to Chicago.
Kent said the V-Line is the more complicated of the two service because of the many stops and services instead of being a direct route bus like the Dash. The study will include opportunities for public comment on the service.
Ridership on the V-Line in February totaled 9,679 and was 9,105 in March. Kent said part of the decrease was attributed to Valparaiso University students being on spring break. Meanwhile, the Dash had a total of 4,050 riders in March, which was an average of 96.4 a day each way.