Campus passes boost WTA bus ridership

People boarded Whatcom Transportation Authority buses nearly 10 percent more often in 2007 than the previous year, largely because of heavier ridership from university students, according to WTA.The 9.8 percent increase in ridership — counted as every time a person gets on a bus — came largely from Western Washington University students in the fall using their new universal bus passes, paid for with student fees, said Rick Nicholson, WTA director of service development.Some of the increase also came from a 4.7 percent boost in hours that buses are on the road. The agency started the red Go Line — bus service every 15 minutes — in 2006, and that led to an increase in ridership in 2007, the first full year of the service, Nicholson said.“Anytime we see ridership up more than hours, that means our productivity, the number of people per hour, is going up,” he said. “We love to see that number going up.”Go Lines are increasing in ridership, he said. WTA added a fifth Go Line last week: the Plum line, which serves Lakeway Drive.“I thought they would do well. I really didn’t think they’d do as well, as quickly, as soon, as they’re doing,” Nicholson said.