Bis-Man Transit ridership numbers down in 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. - Ridership on Bis-Man transit was down last year. For the fixed and para-transit routes in 2017, riders were down just about 16 percent compared to 2016.

The trek from the University of Mary to downtown Bismarck isn't that far, less than 10 miles. Students without cars are usually at the mercy of friends to make the trip. But a new route on the Bis-Man Transit is allowing some to hop on a bus to get into town.

“So far I’ve just used it like I said, going into town to get food and stuff for my dorm and getting supplies for my dorm going shopping at the mall,” said Elias Haddad, freshman.

While some students may be new riders, others have stopped. Between the fixed routes and the para-transit, which serves senior citizens and those with disabilities, ridership is down 15.7 percent. Ridership on just the fixed routes is down 21.5 percent. Roy Rickert with Bis-Man Transit blames the numbers on new routes, weather and gas prices.

“Ridership has remained fairly stagnant and that's what we're working on is trying to increase that ridership,” Rickert said. “And it's not something that happens overnight, you know we've been here for a while and we're just now trying to make these changes.”

The new line that goes out to the University of Mary campus isn't doing as well as expected, transporting fewer than 500 riders a month. If the route doesn't generate $40,000 by the end of the school year, the school will have to make up the difference. Rickert says Bis-Man Transit and the University of Mary will re-evaluate the route at the end of the year to see if it is worth keeping. He says he hopes the changed routes, reduced veteran prices and word of mouth will help increase ridership.