Transit ridership increases due to changes

A large group of WKU students board the Red Line bus just outside of Mass Media and Technology Hall, on Feb. 3. During peak ride times, in between classes, spots can be hard to come by on Topper Transit buses. Luke Franke/HERALD

Jessica Voorhees

Parking and Transportation Services made several changes to the Topper Transit system last semester, which resulted in record ridership.

Jennifer Tougas, director of PTS, said Transit carried 387,263 passengers in the fall, an increase of 26 percent over last year, at the same time. 

Tougas said PTS implemented the changes to make up for the dramatic loss in commuter parking in the fall, as a result of the rise in housing residents who brought cars to campus.

“I’m happy with the result of the changes,” she said. “Our drive was to improve the situation for commuters.”

Tougas said PTS rearranged parking zones so bus routes would pass by commuter lots. 

Due to the lack of available parking spaces in main campus commuter lots, some commuters parked at South Campus and rode the White Line to main campus.

PTS added a bus to the White Line to increase the frequency of South Campus stops to every six minutes. 

However, Tougas said the biggest change was the rerouting of the Red Line to serve the downtown area. 

PTS redesigned the Red Line to stop near student housing, such as the Campus Evolution Villages and Columns Apartments, as well as 11th Street and the Alumni Square Garage, and then deliver students to stops on State and Normal Street. 

According to a press release from PTS,  Red Line ridership increased 76 percent over last year. 

Tougas said she was unsure if PTS will implement any additional changes soon. 

“We’re still in the process of planning for fall,” she said.

Gary Meszaros, assistant vice president for Business and Auxiliary Services, said PTS is considering several long-term parking solutions, including the construction of a new parking structure.  

“We are starting to have meetings about potentially building another garage or two,” he said.

Meszaros said the Creason lot is a possible site for a new garage, and PTS is looking into buying property within walking distance of campus to lay down temporary gravel lots for students to park  in, during construction. 

“What we’re going to need is some swing space,” he said. “While the building is going on we’re going to be missing those spaces. We need a place to move those people to.”

Meszaros said PTS is looking at this option in response to focus group discussions and “customer responses.”