Wichita buses see increase in ridership

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – More Wichitans are taking advantage of the city’s public transportation system.

According to a city report, Wichita Transit saw a 20 percent increase in ridership on city buses.

Courtesy Wichita Transit

Back in December 2016, the Wichita city council approved $4 million from the sale of the Hyatt hotel to go toward improving the transit system. The money helped fund the “Transit Sustainability Plan,” which allowed the city to collect public input about transportation options.

The results led to changes at Wichita Transit, including bus routes.

Scott Wadle, interim transit director, said there was initially a drop in ridership once the routes were changed in early 2016. He believed this was due to people trying to adjust to the new routes.

However, since then, there has been an uptick in ridership.

According to Wadle, the new bus routes are now more convenient for the public.

“On Douglas, we’ve got multiple lines coming down the same street. Also on Broadway, we’ve got different places, different destinations that they’re getting to in terms of shopping, employment and residential centers.”

Courtesy Wichita Transit

The report also showed an increase in ridership on the Q-Line. In July and August 2016, there was over 1,100 rides. In July and August of this year, there was over 10,000 rides.

Wadle said the city wants to create more pilot programs to see what services are in demand.

Right now, Wichita Transit has partnered with USD 259 for the Student Pass Pilot Program. The program is for middle and high school students, plus students at seven Wichita schools that don’t qualify for school bus service. The students can purchase bus passes at a discounted price, and it allows them unlimited access across the city. Wadle said over 700 passes have been purchased.

Wichita Transit is also piloting Point to Point Service until October 21. This is transportation for people living in areas with limited access to grocery stores.

The city is also looking into partnerships with large employers, schools and ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

According to city officials, they’ll be evaluating and modifying the pilot programs — in hopes of boosting ridership.

Wadle added that future funding for the transit system doesn’t look promising, but he said an increase in riders could help.

“We’re working on boosting ridership,” said Wadle. “That’s really a key driver when it comes to federal funding, and so that’s really a large part of this effort is with the pilot projects.”

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