GPTC announces ridership gains after banner 2018

Contributed By:The 411 News

Broadway rapid service and smartphone payment more popular than anticipated

The Gary Public Transportation Corporation ended 2018 with its highest ridership in almost a decade, bucking a national trend of declining ridership and realizing positive results from service changes, while creating momentum for 2019.

For 2018, GPTC carried 800,645 riders, an increase of 4.6% over 2017. It is the transit agency’s highest posted ridership since 2010. The crux of the ridership increase, GPTC officials cite, is the launch of Rapid Bus service and the introduction of a smartphone fare payment option, both of which were more popular than anticipated.

In February 2018 GPTC launched the Broadway Metro Express (Bmx), introducing to Northwest Indiana the concept of “Rapid Bus” with more frequent service, limited stops and high-profile bus shelters.

By the end of 2018, the Bmx and new feeder service had created a demand by Broadway businesses for new bus stops and became the focus for farmer’s markets and station-area art funded by the Legacy Foundation. The Bmx system carried 214,455 passengers – a 33% increase over conventional service from 2017 and over twice the 16.3% ridership increase that planners anticipated.

February also saw the introduction of mobile fare payments. GPTC partnered with San Francisco-based Token Transit to provide this fare option, which allows transit riders to purchase single-use fares and multi-ride passes using an app on their smartphone. GPTC officials hoped the option, which reduces boarding times and allows for credit card purchases, would be used by about 2% of customers. By year’s end, however, 4.6% of total transit trips – over 32,000 mobile fare activations – were via the Token Transit app.

Another ridership success was the restoration of service to GPTC’s Lakeshore routes. GPTC reduced service to routes in Hammond, Highland and Munster in 2017 due to funding cutbacks. Assistance from Lake County and the City of Hammond allowed GPTC to reverse some of the reductions and, as a result, Lakeshore-area ridership rebounded by over 8%.

“The financing by the County, the City of Hammond and the Town of Merrillville [which helps fund Broadway feeder service] was a measure of confidence that had positive results. It proves that when communities invest in transit, they reap dividends in improved mobility and improved ridership,” GPTC’s General Manager Daryl Lampkins explained. “These 2018 numbers show the immediate impact of regional transit support, and how support should be used to build momentum beyond Gary taxpayers shouldering all of the burden.”

Other banner transit highlights for GPTC include increased ridership of 1.1% on complementary paratransit service for riders with disabilities, and the completion of improvements at the Metro Center in downtown Gary.

Story Posted:03/10/2019

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