WRTA’s Warren Express sees growth in ridership after trips and route expand

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Bolstered by operating 11 trips per day instead of six and an expanded route, the Western Reserve Transit Authority’s Warren Express saw a 15 percent increase in ridership from 2017 to 2018.

According to WRTA, ridership already was on the rise the first eight months of the year, increasing 7.4 percent from 2017 to 2018 from 36,533 rides to 39,220.

But on Sept. 4, the route added six trips per day to 11, an 83 percent increase in frequency. And on Dec. 10, the route began serving Tod’s Crossing and the Hampshire House apartments off of Tod Avenue Southwest.

The last four months of 2018 saw a 29.3 percent increase in ridership from 2017 to 2018 from 19,624 to 25,386.

The route now leaves Federal Station in Youngstown hourly from from 6:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday and makes various stops, including the Eastwood Mall, Alorica, Trumbull Regional Medical Center and into Warren before returning to Youngstown.

A congestion mitigation/air-quality grant from the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments pays for the additional frequency. One-way adult fares are $1.25.

Within the statistics are a few surprising increases.

The number of elderly or disabled riders jumped by 33.6 percent from 2017 to 2018 from 15,696 to 20,955. The number of people getting a ride and having their bicycle attached to the front of the bus increased 140 percent from 158 to 379.

Revenue from riders increased from 2017 to 2018 14 percent from $35,418 to $40,402.

Jennifer Laughner, WRTA’s director of finance, said it’s possible the unusually warm weather in November and December was a factor in the higher number of bicycle riders using the service.

But otherwise, she believes the increased elderly and disabled riders and overall increases result from the increased frequency of trips and the expanded route.

“We appreciate the increase in frequency of the route and the change in the route,” said Janet Hazlett, a Warren resident and advocate for public transportation.

The route has increased in ridership 65.8 percent from its debut in 2012 through 2018.

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