Los Alamos, N.M.
Atomic City Transit- Los Alamos County
Finish with Employees
If we’re going to keep our customers, we have to give them a great trip. We know we’ll lose some as gasoline prices fall and commuters start adjusting their finances. But as we experienced in late 2005 when we first had $3 gasoline, we can hold on to most of them. That’s where it comes back to us.
We have to continue delivering trips that create connections for the largest number of people safely, efficiently and affordably. That’s how we can have new customers for life.
Atomic City Transit, located in Los Alamos County (approximately 20,000 residents), N.M., began services in October of 2007. Routes were designed around a central transfer location keeping routes as direct as possible and, therefore, competitive with the automobile. Before October 2007, public transportation was provided, at a minimal level, by a non-profit organization dating back to approximately 1980.
Prior to the formation of Atomic City Transit, ridership reached approximately 80,000 annually. It is currently estimated that ridership will reach a quarter of a million by the end of our first full year. Growth in ridership has been especially evident over the past few months. Ridership in May of 2008 was 22,550. In June of 2008, just one month later, ridership reached 39,208. And most recently, ridership reached 47,221 in July. The challenge of ridership almost doubling in one month was difficult especially since Atomic City Transit operates with only a dozen cutaway vehicles — five of which only seat 13 passengers — and a few school buses. The growth has been accommodated by adapting to change on a day-to-day basis using all available resources while at the same time having a long-term phased service improvement plan in place.
The challenge of growing ridership was met by having Atomic City Transit’s Dial-a-Ride service and the fixed-route service work as one seamless system. When Dial-a-Ride customers call for a reservation they are usually informed about the fixed-route service options. Dial-a-Ride ridership has been declining since April. Also, on a few peak hour trips, when a Dial-a-Ride customer was traveling the same route as the fixed route, the Dial-a-Ride vehicle was utilized to back up the fixed-route vehicle to reduce the number of standees. When a Dial-a-Ride vehicle did not have a pickup, they staged at the transit center to assist with fixed-route service as well.
Ridership has also been monitored on a trip-by-trip basis by having drivers call into dispatch when they have standees When customers were not able to board the bus due to overcrowding, resources were moved into place immediately if available. As trends emerged in overcrowded trips, either the bus was changed to a larger size and/or backup buses were added using spare buses. Grab rails were also added to four vehicles, to allow standees better accommodations.
Finally, phased growth has been planned for in theService Plan. The services started with peak-hour service. All-day service was added in December 2007 and upcoming improvements include additional peak-hour service in October 2008. The Transit Service Plan is now being updated and Atomic City Transit is participating in regional planning and funding efforts through the North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD). Through this regional collaboration, a region-wide ballot initiative will go to the voters this November.
The coming months will be exciting as we continue to strive to be an exemplary transit system encouraged by the community benefits that have been realized.
Manager’s Forum goes to the front lines of the transit industry to get feedback on different topics relevant to passenger transportation — and we want to hear from you! If you have an idea for discussion or would like to voice your opinion, please contact Leah Harnack at (262) 446.2816 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.