VALPARAISO | When the V-Line intracity bus service started, the city of Valparaiso set a goal of carrying 100,000 riders in one year. After 2012, they have to set a new goal.
Planning Director Tyler Kent said total ridership in 2012 was 100,581, an increase of almost 13,000 over the previous best in 2011 of 87,718.
Now the goal is to reach 125,000 riders, he said.
"It's a reliable service and individuals have become more comfortable with it," Kent said.
Kent said rider feedback led to route changes and also will have a a route analysis this year.
"We hope the consultant can address some of the weak points in the service and we can get to that number quicker," he said.
The city will seek proposals from consultants in a couple of months for a study that is expected to make recommendations on such issues as whether more routes are needed, more buses, more stops -- and where they should be -- and what funding is available.
The milestone was reached despite a somewhat slow month in December because of the Christmas holiday. The V-Line had 7,881 riders. The Yellow Route had 3,042 riders, the Green Route 3,186, the Brown Route 1,090, the Red Route 352, and the Orange Route 206. There also were five rescue pickups.
Kent said the two-week Christmas break for Valparaiso University had an impact on the total, and the buses didn't run on Christmas. Three replacement buses are expected to be delivered in mid-March.
December also saw a dip in ridership on the ChicaGo Dash express commuter service to Chicago's Loop. The Dash had a total of 3,166 riders for an average of 79 riders each way on the three routes. The city still plans to begin a fourth route.
The new bus for the service will be delivered in June or July, but Kent said he has asked Free Enterprise Systems, which operates the buses for the city, to provide a quote on leasing a bus until the new one arrives. Adding the fourth route could revive talks with Hobart on adding a stop.
Kent said those talks have languished because of the need to find a stop that is on the route to Chicago, has room for the bus to get in and out without interfering with traffic and has enough parking for riders.