GJ bus service hitting near-record numbers

The year 2008 was no record for the number of people using public transportation in the Grand Valley, but it was close.

“We had just above 750,000 riders,” said Todd Hollenbeck, director of the Mesa County Regional Transportation Planning Office. “We missed 2006 numbers by about 4,000 riders.”

In the last quarter of 2008, when gas prices peaked and the economy started to tank, the number of bus riders started increasing. That trend continues.

“It is strange. Even with gas prices going down we are still seeing an increase in ridership,” Hollenbeck said. “But if the last four months were any indication of the numbers we can expect for 2009, we will definitely crush those numbers from 2006.”

The year-end total for 2006 was 759,239 riders, Grand Valley Transit’s all-time high for a year. The total number of riders for 2008 was 755,659, according to data compiled by Grand Valley Transit.

While 2008 was not a record year for the number of bus riders, the month of December was, according to an internal report prepared by Valdon Lewis, general manager of Grand Valley Transit.

Lewis wrote the 17.69 passengers per service hour on fixed-route service “indicates a significant increase over previous years and sets an all-time ridership record for the month of December.”

Bus riders in December totaled 70,865. During the record-setting year of 2006, December had 55,457 riders.

Compared with the last four years, the months of July, September, October, November and December for 2008 had the highest number of riders in each month.

Just in time to meet the upswing in demand for public transportation, the bus service’s new downtown hub and administrative offices, on the southeast corner of South Avenue and Fifth Street, is nearing completion.

“It’s moving along, and we expect a completion date in May,” Hollenbeck said.


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