Friday, April 20, 2012

Bus ridership declines in first quarter

Drop attributed to lower skier numbers


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Ridership on the Mountain Rides Transportation Authority commuter bus and van service declined 5 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

According to information released to the organization's board of directors Wednesday, ridership numbers were fairly consistent compared to those of 2011 in the first two months of the quarter, but took a 12 percent nosedive in March.

Total ridership numbers for the first quarter of 2012 were 189,453, compared to 200,107 in the first quarter of 2011.

Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller attributed the March decline to lower skier numbers this year compared to last year.

"I think the numbers will get better," Miller said.

The decline in ridership for the quarter follows Mountain Rides' strong showing in 2011, when ridership for the year was 15 percent higher than in 2010.

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The biggest ridership loss in March was on the organization's Ketchum-Sun Valley free bus service, which suffered a 16 percent decline compared to March 2011.

The Mountain Rides Valley service, which provides paid-fare bus service between the north and south valleys, also declined in March, with 10 percent fewer riders than in March of2011.

Free around-town Hailey service, however, showed a 75 percent increase last month compared to March 2011.

Miller said the Valley service fell in numbers because more people are using the free Hailey service instead of the Valley service to get around in the city. Mountain Rides implemented a 50 cent fee in November 2011 for Valley service rides within the city. Before that, the service was free.

Commuter van service between the Wood River and Magic valleys also increased last month with 14 percent more riders than in March 2011.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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