VALPARAISO | The ChicaGo Dash ridership continues to increase, and, on Nov. 1, so will the fares for single ride and round trip tickets.
The city's Board of Public Works and Safety on Thursday approved the first fare increase since the service began in 2009. One-way fares will go up 50 cents to $8 and a round trip ticket will go up $1 to $16. The 10-ride and monthly passes will not change.
Planning Director Tyler Kent said the increase is expected to raise about $10,000 a year to help cover the rising operational costs for higher tolls, fuel prices, credit card fees and the route tracking system now available on the four buses.
The increase comes after ridership for September was the highest ever with a total of 4,894 for an average of 122.4 riders each way on the weekday express commuter routes.
The board also approved a contract with RLS and Associates, of Dayton, Ohio, to do a route study of the V-Line service to see how service might be improved. Cost of the study is $68,000 with an option to do a survey of riders and potential riders for $29,000.
Kent said the city is still discussing the cost of the survey. He said RLS proposed doing a random phone survey, which the city is not convinced will provide the information it wants. It prefers surveys of actual riders and working with focus groups of potential riders and Valparaiso University students.
The study will start over the next 30 to 60 days.
Ridership numbers seem to indicate the V-Line is doing something right. After breaking the previous record by about 2,000 in August, the V-Line had another 2,000-rider jump in September to 13,482.
"It's good to see consistency and growth with both services," Kent said. "The Green Route grew the most, and it could be because more Valparaiso University students live on the north side."
All the routes showed new record ridership. The Yellow Route had 3,687 riders, the Green Route 5,109, the Brown Route 3,224. the Orange Route shuttle 815 and the Red Route on weekends 534. The V-Line also had 113 special pickups.