Bus use showing gains
Julia Sullivan began riding public buses in Fargo-Moorhead 55 years ago. The 73-year-old retired Moorhead elementary school teacher believes more metro residents should take the bus instead of a car. "You'd think they would want to save money on ...
Julia Sullivan began riding public buses in Fargo-Moorhead 55 years ago.
The 73-year-old retired Moorhead elementary school teacher believes more metro residents should take the bus instead of a car.
"You'd think they would want to save money on gas, especially the way gas prices are now," she said Wednesday as she waited for a bus to take her home after a morning outing.
A growing number of area residents are doing just what Sullivan recommends.
Through August, ridership on Fargo public buses is up 17 percent from the same period a year ago, said Julie Bommelman, Fargo transit manager.
The number of rides grew to 527,000 from 448,000.
"It's wonderful," she said.
Some of the increase might reflect increased bus service to downtown Fargo because of North Dakota State University's campus there, Bommelman said.
But higher gas prices definitely are causing more people to ride the bus, she said.
Ridership on Moorhead public buses rose 9 percent through August from the same period last year, said Lori Van Beek, Moorhead transit manager.
"The higher gas prices are making a difference," she said.
Gas prices haven't had much effect on ridership so far at Clay County Rural Transit, said Georgia Beaudry, its coordinator.
Her organization provides Dial-A-Ride service for seniors and people with disabilities.
It also provides commuter bus service between Moorhead-Fargo and Detroit Lakes and Moorhead-Fargo and Barnesville.
Beginning Monday, Clay County Rural Transit begins offering commuter bus service between Fargo-Moorhead and Wahpeton, N.D.-Breckenridge.
There's been strong response to the new route, although it's uncertain whether everyone who's expressed an interest in riding will do so, she said.
A new metro vanpooling program is drawing considerable interest, said Mikel Kunza, regional transportation coordinator for the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments, which is involved in the program.
For more information on van pooling and other metro transit opportunities, check out MetroCOG's Web site, www.fmmetrocog.org .
Kunza said the site is being accessed more often, which indicates public interest in public transit is growing.
Higher gas prices have many people nationwide turning to public transportation, according to the Associated Press.
Ridership on a commuter rail between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, is up 15 percent this month, and average weekday ridership on the Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco up 3.5 percent, the AP reported.
But there's been no significant increase in ridership on New York City's mass transit system, the nation's largest, the AP said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530