BisMan paratransit sees drop in ridership

BISMARCK, N.D. - The number of rides on BisMan paratransit has dropped off over the last year. Two transit board members say the drop-off was expected after changes to riding qualifications. But one rider says there are other issues.

Chance Poitra has been using BisMan Transit for about four years. What was once his go-to everyday ride has now become a transportation source he uses just a couple times a month. He says the service has had some issues over the last year.

“I just graduated college here and I just, I was even late for my ceremony, my graduation ceremony,” Poitra said.

He's not the only one that's stopped using the service as frequently. According to data from BisMan Transit monthly bills, the total amount of rides has gone down about 20,000 from 2013 to 2017. Two transit board members say the drop-off is due to a number of reasons, including changes in qualifications for riders, how riders are tracked, and a fare increase, and they expected the decrease.

Board Director Steve Heydt said some were using the service as a cheap ride to the airport for example, so they didn't have to leave their car in the parking lot, but changes in requirements have stopped that.

But Poitra believes the drop-off is due to timing issues and new rules, such as not allowing riders to change where they're dropped off while still on the bus.

“It's kind of a choice if you want to get off the bus or not, and I'll find my own way home you know,” Poitra said. “So they just don't allow stuff like that anymore.”

Prices for paratransit increased $1 last year, making it $3 each way now.