WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — With the steady increase at the pump, many cities are seeing an increase in riders on city transit.
In Wichita, ridership was arguably at its highest before the coronavirus pandemic. During the month of May in 2019, just under 113,000 people rode the city bus. The 2020 coronavirus pandemic drastically lowered that number.
In 2021, when the transit system was trying to build back the number of riders, they saw an average of just under 60,000 riders, a more than 48% dip in two years.
However, with both the lessening of the coronavirus pandemic and the large increase in gas prices, there has been a huge jump from 2021 to 2022.
When speaking with Wichita Transit’s Nathaniel Hinkel, he says the city was providing reduced fees for students in middle school and high school during the year. Since the summer, they have seen a bit of a dip in riders, but they’re still staying very busy.
“As the gas prices continue to go up, it’s certainly likely that we may see additional ridership as well,” Hinkel explained. “Right now, we’re still providing all of our services as scheduled. We certainly do not want to have any negative impact on the community.”
However, he did say the current cost of fuel has caused the city to take some of its own precautions.
“Right now, we’re just trying to minimize our fuel consumption when it’s possible,” Hinkel added. “At times, we might shut off buses when they’re going to be idling for a lengthy amount of time, just to save fuel where we can.”
Hinkel was adamant that the price of gas has not caused the city to look into any raising of fees for bus riders in Wichita.