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February 4, 2010

Numbers up and down for buses

Riders decrease but income rises in city

TERRE HAUTE — For the first time in five years, ridership did not grow on the Terre Haute Transit Utility, a decrease officials say is a direct result of a down economy and necessary changes in bus routes.

Yet, despite a dip in ridership, overall revenues are up, largely due to an increase in block ticket sales and higher fees for an Americans With Disabilities Act on-demand service.

Ridership has risen each of the past five years, peaking in 2008 at 338,360 trips, according to survey findings by West Central Indiana Economic Development District (WCIEDD). Ridership dipped to 299,949 trips in 2009.

“The decrease in ridership was in part due to the economy, and we had to adjust two routes and close one due to budget constraints,” said Brad Miller, transportation director for the city of Terre Haute.

Revenue for the bus system has increased annually for the past six years. Revenue was $102,664 in 2004. In 2009, it rose to $188,597.

“We had a banner year in 2009 in terms of selling blocks of tickets to organizations like Head Start,” Miller said. “Instead of buying 14 tickets good for 14 rides, they bought 25 tickets for the same number of rides, which helped increase revenue.”

One other factor, said Pat Macke, transportation planner for transit for WCIEDD, was an increase in the ticket price in 2009 for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) on-demand service. That cost is $1.75 per one-way ride, up from $1.50 a ride. The transit system had 16,100 ADA rides in 2009.

The bus system in November 2008 raised its one-way ticket price to $1.25 from $1, and a 14-ride ticket to $15 from $12. A monthly ticket also was increased to $35 from $30.

The bus system has another “first” with the purchase of seven new buses, to be in operation this year, Miller said. The buses were bought with federal stimulus money.

The city now has two new hybrid buses that operate on both electricity and gasoline. The hybrids are being outfitted with city bus decals. In addition, the city will have three new diesel-powered and two gasoline-powered buses.

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    March 12, 2010