FallsRide Sees Increase in Riders as Pump Prices Rise

How high do gas prices have to rise before you'll consider using public transportation?
   Transit Administrator Dennis Burket says more people are taking advantage of FallsRide.
    Here's a look at this year's numbers so far, compared to last year:
    Last January, FallsRide served about 27-thousand riders ... compared to about 38- thousand people this January.
    February's numbers are up, from about 22 thousand riders, to about 34- thousand.
    But Burket says it's important to note that the new MSU route -- which began in August -- is responsible for a large part of that increase ... with about four thousand passengers a week.
   The folks at FallsRide are hoping *pain* at the pump ....
   "It's just getting worse and worse all the time, yeah."
   "It is 3.65 a gallon!"
   ... might lead to a *gain* in bus ridership.
   Shannon Dowdy
    "If it gets much higher than it is now, I'm not going to be able to afford to drive. You know, on my income. I've got three children you know, & it's just not going to happen. I mean, I'm going to end up having to walk or ride the bus to work."
   Bree Talley
   "That's something that's going to help people save money to get em to & from their jobs."
   Dennis Burket
W.F. Transit Administrator
   "The gas will get some of em on there -- & once we get em, hopefully they'll stay with us."
   By the middle of June, FallsRide will have added two new buses.  That's because Burket says the life expectancy of one of these buses is 10 years, or 350-thousand miles.  But he says many of these buses have already exceeded 500-thousand miles.
   "Well, our new buses are more - instead of on demand, they're on age."
    If FallsRide can increase demand ... Burket says it could lead to more efficient routes.  He says the city would like to decrease average bus travel time from about an hour to half an hour.
   "But if we did, that means adding twice as many buses as we have now - which relates to money." "Which relates to ridership." "So it all is one big circle."
    FallsRide receives about 1.3 million dollars each year in federal grants ...
    300- thousand a year in TxDOT funds ...
    and the city kicks in a local match of about 180- thousand a year.
    So, FallsRide does not make a profit.

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