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Longview bus ridership up 34% this year

By Mike Elswick
March 20, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Extended hours of operation and rising gasoline prices are being credited for a big jump in passenger numbers for Longview Transit System's bus service.

Since the beginning of the year, the system has posted a 34 percent jump in passenger use, officials report. Ridership jumped from about 25,200 people for the same period in 2011 to 34,000 this year.

In February, the system provided rides for 17,369 passengers, up by 42.5 percent, or an increase of more than 5,100 passengers compared to the 12,186 who used the service in February 2011.

Robert Stephens, general manager for Longview Transit, said revenues for the system are tracking close behind with a 30.4 percent jump for the January through February time period.

"We attribute the increases to a combination of things - rising gas prices and extended hours of operation," he said Tuesday.

The service extended business by an hour, and buses now run 6:15 a.m. until 7:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. Buses also run 7:15 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. on Saturdays. There is no Sunday service.

"That extra hour has allowed people wanting to use the bus for their jobs enough time to get off work and still get home by the time we stop," he said. "Basically, we created an opportunity for those people to use the system when they couldn't use it before."

Stephens also said the transit system has made a concerted effort to market itself better and to make potential riders aware of the services.

"We've started an outreach program to help people better understand how to use us - things like how to make connections and use the fare boxes," he said.

"We've been doing that now a couple of months and feel that marketing effort is helping too."

That marketing effort has included development of a brochure, public presentations to civic groups and agencies, participation in local events, trip planning assistance and mass emails to nonprofit organizations and local agencies serving potential riders.



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