Million-rider barrier broken by Grand Valley Transit

Grand Valley Transit reached a milestone Wednesday, topping 1 million riders for the first time in its 11-year existence.

Trouble is, though, Grand Valley Transit officials couldn’t say who exactly was that millionth rider.

So, instead of trying to figure that out, they gave about 500 people who were on the system’s 11 buses around 1 p.m. free goodie bags and a chance to win a one-year bus pass. Four of those 500 riders will win the free passes during a drawing next week.

Todd Hollenbeck, manager of the Mesa County Regional Transportation Planning Office, which operates the bus system, said ridership steadily increased over the years as people began to realize how easy and inexpensive it is. Plus, he said, the recent recession helped boost ridership.

“After initial use, they discovered it meets their needs, and it’s safe and reliable,” Hollenbeck said. “But I think part of it is the economy. These are tough times, and people are looking for alternatives, or cheaper alternatives to get them around the community.”

The milestone comes at a time when the service is eyeing expanding its hours and making changes to its 11 routes, Hollenbeck said.

Earlier this year, the system signed a contract with MV Transportation of Fairfield, Calif., which will take over operation of the buses from First Transit of Cincinnati at the start of next year, in part, because the new company said it could expand nighttime service by three hours at the same cost.

Hollenbeck said that expansion likely won’t take place until sometime in March because the service also wants to re-examine the stops on its routes to see if it can find other efficiencies.

“We’re looking at modifications and improvements to the existing route structure, and with that will be an expansion of hours,” he said. “But whether that is with all routes, or routes that show that an increase until 10:15 in the evening is needed, we want to make sure, if we’re expanding those routes, that we’re going to have people utilizing them, and not just running buses that are empty.”

Buses run from 5:15 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. six days a week. A single-fare cost, with transfers, is $1.50.

Grand Valley Transit recently added two compressed-natural-gas buses to its fleet, and it hopes ultimately to replace its 25 diesel-powered buses with CNG buses by 2020.


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