VALPARAISO — The Greyhound Bus Line that runs between Chicago and Indianapolis will be adding a Valparaiso stop early next year.
During a Wednesday meeting, the Valparaiso Board of Works and Safety approved a service agreement for a bus stop located at the 260 Brown St. parking area, where the ChicaGo Dash and South Shore Connect bus stops are. The Greyhound will make two trips through Valparaiso a day, one northbound and one southbound.
Currently, the Greyhound stop closest to Valparaiso is in Portage. The city's ChicaGo Dash travels from downtown Valparaiso to Chicago and the South Shore Connect Shuttle takes riders to Chicago and South Bend.
Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy supported the new stop, calling it "fantastic."
The Board of Works and Safety also approved contract amendments with Royal Excursion, the company that Valparaiso contracts with for South Shore Connect Shuttle, ChicaGo Dash and V-Line. The amendment will increase hourly pay for drivers.
After the COVID-19 pandemic took buses off the road, "ridership has come back very slowly," Valparaiso Director of Planning and Transit Beth Shrader said.
Before the city shut down all bus services in March 2020, Valparaiso had a fleet of five buses with plans to add a sixth and even a seventh. Now the city runs three buses, a number Shrader said is "the right amount right now" because of the decrease in ridership.
Amending the three contracts, which all last until September 2023, would help Royal Excursion "recoup" some of the losses the vendor suffered during the pandemic, Shrader said. The hourly raise would also help maintain good drivers.
"It is important to ensure continuity of service, making sure we have sufficient drivers," Shrader said.
As of now, bus fare will not be raised to pay for the increase included in the amended contract, though Murphy said that may be a possibility. Shrader said potential increased fairs will be evaluated at the start of the year, but that it will require a "lengthy federal process" and public input.