Burlington’s Link Transit bus system seems to be picking up momentum – and additional passengers – as it continues to emerge from the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.
The bus system’s increasing ridership was ultimately one of the highpoints of a year-end report that Burlington’s city council received earlier this week on Link Transit’s operations.
During the council’s latest monthly work session on Monday, John Andoh, the city’s interim transit manager acknowledged that the bus system’s ridership had bottomed out during the pandemic – sinking to just 57,770 passenger trips in 2020 after reaching a high of 112,479 trips a year earlier. Andoh added, however, that ridership rebounded in 2021 thanks, in part, to a decision by the city council to eliminate the bus system’s fares. Since then, Andoh said that the bus system has continued its upward trajectory and is currently on track to reach a new annual record of 135,000 for the current calendar year.
Andoh informed the council that this increase in ridership coincides with a number of big changes to the six-year-old municipal bus system, which includes service to Gibsonville, Alamance County’s headquarters, and the main campus of Alamance Community College in addition to its core service area in Burlington.
Andoh noted that, in the coming calendar year, the bus system is slated to upgrade its entire motorfleet, beginning with the addition of two electric buses that are scheduled to hit the road next June. In the meantime, the interim transit manager said that he and his colleagues are preparing to add 25 new bus shelters to the 10 which presently line the bus system’s routes and will use ridership figures to determine precisely where the new shelters are to be located.
Andoh told the council that additional changes may also be in the offing thanks to a regional transit study that aims to better integrate Link Transit with the four other public transportation services that crisscross Alamance County. Meanwhile, Andoh asked the council to authorize another study of Link Transit’s own services in order to make recommendations about future expansions and identify a location for the bus system’s permanent transfer hub.
At Andoh’s behest, the council has agreed to green light a search for a consultant to handle this “development plan and transit facility study,” whose cost will be covered entirely by funds from the Federal Transit Administration.