VALPARAISO | The $4-a-gallon price of gasoline apparently is helping the city's V-Line bus service cope with the loss of Valparaiso University student riders during the summer.
V-Line General Manager Ryan Landers said total ridership in May was 3,585, a decrease of 500 from April. The Brown Route, which serves the university and normally has the highest ridership of the three main lines, had 769 riders. That's about half the April ridership because it was discontinued after school let out in mid-May.
The Yellow Route had an increase of about 150 to 1,350 while the Green Route was up about 100 to 1,288. The weekend shuttle to the South Shore state had 178 riders.
"The Yellow and the Green routes are going up each day," Landers said. "It's probably due to the younger kids being out of school and more people realizing the service is there and they can use it. That's very good news, and we hope it will continue like this."
Landers said the bus service gets several new riders each day who say they are taking the bus because of gasoline prices.
"We have to make a good impression because they could go back to driving if the price goes down in a few months. We want to let them know the service is here, it's readily available and it is a good service."
The opening of the Cinemark theater has helped boost ridership on the Green Route, and overall the service received very few complaints, he said. The rising gasoline prices also are affecting the buses' operation, but some of the impact has been offset by halting the Brown Route for the summer.
"We are not breaking even, but we are doing a good enough job so we are not spending a lot on gas," he said. The city reimburses the operator, McDonald Transit Associates, for the cost of the gas.
He said people are using the new stop on Lincolnway in front of the county courthouse, but sidewalk construction along Lincolnway west of the stop could be hampering its use.