The Radford Transit System saw a slight increase in ridership in 2016-17 over the previous year, Operations Manager Trevor Sakry reported to Radford City Council on Monday.
That statistic means the city bus system is faring better than most of the public bus systems in Virginia, with ridership down by five percent statewide, Sakry said.
He added RT is hoping to increase ridership further by analyzing routes to better serve neighborhoods in the city.
A new automated rider counter system, which should be in place by February, will go a long way to help in that effort, Sakry explained, as customer counts are currently taken by hand and are therefore not always accurate. The automated system will also include the ability to play recorded announcements and advertisements.
“This is a good way to increase revenues through advertising,” Sakry said.
Radford Mayor Dr. Bruce Brown and Vice Mayor Dr. Richard Harshberger said they hope the data collection will lead to more neighborhood routes to better serve citizens. Brown said he voted against the approval of the transit plan at city council’s September meeting because he would like to see a citizens advisory committee formed, among other concerns.
Brown said he hopes under the leadership of Sakry, who has been in place since May, the bus system will find ways to best serve the citizens and increase revenues.
Councilman Rob Gropman asked if the city is looking for additional funding sources for the system, as state funds for capital needs for transit systems is expected to dry up in 2021. Radford City Manager David Ridpath said the transit team is aware of the upcoming funding strains and is looking toward advertising and other sources of revenue.
Radford University currently pays 80 percent of local costs and the city pays 20 percent, but the local costs are a low percentage of total cost with state funds making up the majority.
Also at Monday’s council meeting, city council passed a proclamation in honor of grace Episcopal Church’s 125th anniversary. The proclamation names Oct. 15, 2017 as the 125th anniversary of the church.