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WRTA ridership up 50 percent
Oct 25, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
An advertising initiative spurred an increase in the number of students riding buses.
The Wind River Transit Authority bus line that serves Fremont County has become popular with students at Central Wyoming College.
WRTA transportation manager Ben Eastmond reported a 50 percent increase in ridership earlier this year after an advertising initiative began at the college. And after CWC's Rustler Radio station started airing announcements about free bus rides for students, Eastmond said 38 percent more people began using WRTA.
"It seems our biggest problem isn't lack of services but lack of awareness of those services," Eastmond said last month during a Fremont County Association of Governments meeting.
FCAG executive director Pam Canham said CWC President Jo Anne McFarland was "just gushing praise" for WRTA during a recent meeting.
"And it's not just for students," Canham said. "She was commenting that a lot of instructors take the bus."
Eastmond has followed up at CWC with pamphlets detailing bus schedules for fixed services and on-demand routes. The pamphlets also are available at the Riverton Chamber of Commerce and at the WRTA office, 2554 Airport Drive.
Eastmond has been working to spread the word about WRTA to the Riverton community as well, meeting with civic groups to let them know about available services. He is trying to make the big, blue WRTA buses more prominent too: The vehicles were available to drive people home from the recent Paws and Pearls fundraiser at the Riverton Holiday Inn, and Eastmond said one bus will be parked downtown for the city's annual Halloween celebration on Main Street.
"We'll decorate it and have some employees dress as zombie drivers and passengers to give out candy to the kids," Eastmond said. "That should do well to get our face out there."
Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness said the price of gas may do some natural advertising for WRTA.
"As the price of gas goes up, the services of WRTA will be more and more valuable," he said.
Eastmond was pleased to report that WRTA's expenses were down 27.5 percent this year, with about $74,300 spent monthly to provide rides for a total of 5,593 county residents.
"Ridership was down 3.8 percent," Eastmond said, citing lower enrollment at the Riverton Head Start program as a reason for the decrease. "And employment has gone up 25 percent from last year."
To contact the WRTA, call 856-7118. For bus schedules and other information, visit wrtabuslines.com.