Recently tabulated numbers show that the service had ridership of 253,957 last year — an increase of 1.6 percent over 2016.
“Dec. 18, we had one of our single busiest days on record,” Harbor Transit spokesman Dennis Swartout said, referencing the single-day ridership of 1,027 people.
The transit provider’s ridership has increased by more than 26 percent since 2013, when it was 200,437 for the year.
“It’s a wonderful problem to have,” Grand Haven Transportation Director Tiffany Bowman said. “We’re absolutely delighted people are using Harbor Transit and that we are able to be there for people’s transportation needs.”
With the growth in ridership comes the need to keep up with the extra demand. Additional vehicles will be purchased in the next few years to replace existing buses due to wear and tear, in addition to keeping up with the latest technology to aid in delivering efficient service.
“We’re looking at purchasing new buses and expanding our fleet,” Bowman said. “We’re looking at purchasing four buses.”
Harbor Transit officials also plan to get a better perspective on the needs and demands of the market.
“One of the ways we’re addressing it is (using) a grant we received to do a market study this year,” Swartout said.
A Service and New Technology Grant from the Federal Transit Administration will be used to study the need for, and costs associated with, enhancements to the Grand Haven-area service. The study will focus on expansion opportunities into adjoining counties and using fixed routes as part of the service mix. The study will provide rider survey feedback, detail available options and lay out the costs for achieving the various expansion alternatives.
“We’ve gotten funding to do that over a three-year period,” Bowman said.
Bowman said the continued growth of the service wouldn’t be possible without the work of Harbor Transit employees, from the dispatchers and mechanics to the drivers who are the daily “face” of the organization.
“They are well-trained, safe drivers who are dedicated to doing a great job,” she said.