Sunday, September 24, 2017

Chico Municipal (KCIC), Butte County, California: Airport bus ridership growing slowly



Chico >> Bus ridership to the Chico airport is growing, but it needs about double the amount to become permanent.

Jim Peplow at the Butte County Association of Governments, which found a grant to pay for three years of its operation, says ridership in July and August have been averaging about 33 passengers a day on the B-Line bus.

“That’s better than when it started,” Peplow said Tuesday.

Among the early riders was Justin Swital, who doesn’t own a car and takes the bus to his job at About Trees. Swital said the bus service is easy to use and recommends it to others.

The best benefit? “Not paying for fuel.”

Association data showed that for the first week, the bus had an average of 21 riders a day, which has been increasing gradually each month.

Peplow said for Route 52 to find a permanent home, the average needs to grow to about 64 passengers a day.

The route debuted at the end of February after the association landed a state transportation grant of $230,926.

With the number of employers at the airport, and the condition of Cohasset Road, the bus is considered a valuable addition to residents working in private or public employment there. While some bicycle out there, most employees drive.

For Chico riders, the fare is $1.50 each way. For passengers from Oroville, it’s $2 each way. The route actually starts at the Oroville Transit Center, and then swings to downtown Chico at the Chico Transit Center, then north along Mangrove Avenue, to Cohasset Road, Pillsbury Road and to the airport.

There, it swings on Ryan Avenue, Marauder Street, down Boeing Street and back along Fortress Avenue out to Ryan again, making stops on most cross streets along the way.

It’s an express service so it doesn’t stop at all the regular stops going out to the airport, Peplow noted, saying it makes three trips out in the morning, one at noontime, and then two in the afternoon.

As far as ridership, Peplow is anxious to see what the September numbers bring. He may have to help with marketing to bring up awareness.

“We have a little less than three years to make those numbers.”

Originally the grant time frame was for two years, but Peplow found the route is considered to be serving a rural area, since it begins and ends in Oroville. That gives the bus route a third year to get its footing.

Peplow is looking to boost ridership and has a couple of options, but one needs the buy-in of airport employers. It’s called an Employer Smart Card. This Employer Smart Card program is already in place at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Basically, an employer requests the cards for employees, who aren’t charged anything. BCAG tracks the number of rides and then bills the employer at the end of the month.

The airport bus helps employees, because it protects their cars, and helps employers since employees presence is more likely.

Peplow says he can visit airport businesses and explain the program to employers and employees. 

While the city will be improving Cohasset Road in 2018, repair stops short of the airport.

“Yes, we are working on the design for road rehabilitation on Cohasset Road from about East Avenue to Eaton Road. This will not do anything to widen or improve Cohasset to the airport from Eaton Road,” Chico Public Works Director/Engineering Brendan Ottobani wrote this publication on Wednesday.

While there is no precise data on the cost of wear and tear on vehicles encountering potholes on Cohasset Road, AAA has determine that nationally potholes cost drivers about $3 billion annually.

Hitting potholes and deep cracks can damage tires, rims, struts, steering and suspension, according to AAA, but what may be worse is that the damage may not be immediately noticeable and deepen as travel continues.

Buses also help curb air pollution from vehicles.

Peplow said passengers can benefit from a new program called Map My Bus that allows them to see the bus progress in real time, and get updates on a more accurate arrival time. The mobile app can be downloaded from app stores to cellphones, and well as seeing the program online at www.blinetransit.com

The map for Route 52 to the airport can be downloaded from the above site.

A new B-Line bus schedule brochure will be coming out later this year and will include the airport route information. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.chicoer.com

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