An enthusiastic public response to evening and Saturday service is the result of a new grant secured by the Rogue Valley Transportation District. Ridership jumped 17 percent from March to April 2012. In fact, April fixed-route ridership rose to 120,528, a new record that bests the October 2008 ‘gas crisis’ mark by 8 percent.
According to RVTD Senior Planner Paige Townsend, Saturday service has been very popular, delivering more rides per hour than on any other day of the week.
“This is something our riders told us they wanted most, so we adopted it in our 10-year plan,” said Townsend. “Typically, transit agencies can expect it to take 3-6 months before a new service is fully embraced by the public. Our new service has been very busy from day one.”
The evening hours and Saturday service are grant funded for three years, through 2015. RVTD is working to secure additional funding to make the service financially feasible beyond that three-year window.
“We wanted to provide more opportunities for people to get around without having to use their cars,” said Townsend. “Transit only works for people if it gets them both to and from their destination. Our recent expansion covers more trips, providing a transit option for evening shifts, classes and errands, along with all kinds of Saturday trips.”
Most routes have an 8:30 p.m. last departure time which enables riders much more flexibility in scheduling their activities, class times and return times.
RVTD encourages alternatives to driving alone. Its Sept. 21-27 ‘Drive Less Challenge’ offered activities and events involving alternative transportation. The Challenge also encouraged commuters to use the DriveLessConnect.com website, a ride-matching database with a Southern Oregon division, to log their trips and arrange a carpool.
“We really wanted to encourage active and shared transportation to give people the opportunity to feel what it’s like to get around without their car even if it was only for one day,” said RVTD Travel Trainer Mike Bowman. “I commute by bus two days a week, when I can. And I love the mile walk to and from the bus stop. It makes me feel good.”
The Drive Less Challenge is held annually but the benefits of using alternative transportation never go away. Now, with RVTD’s evening hours and Saturday service, Rogue Valley residents have more choices than ever before — and they’re taking advantage of them.