The additional hours also allow the transit agency to continue providing service to the daily riders who are able to extensively plan their respective transportation needs accordingly.
Willoughby resident Judy Linn-Zellhofer agrees, stating in a telephone interview that regular riders are glad to see the busier buses.
“It’s great to see all of the people taking the bus,” she said. “Many of the people I talk to have cars but still take the bus to the mall and work. And the extended hours allow more riders to save gas. Since everything is centrally located, it’s very convenient to us all. With later hours, I have more time in the evenings to shop or get to the library.
“I work in Kirtland and I’ve been riding for eight years and what I’ve learned is Laketran is here for us, they provide a valuable community service,” she said. “Even when I had a car, I’d ride because it just made sense. The increase in riders is great. Hopefully people realize that the bus is always here.”
With passengers utilizing Laketran’s services during the holidays, the agency’s ridership has shown notable growth, according to General Manager Ray Jurkowski.
“Since Laketran initiated the extended holiday hours, ridership has grown by 9 percent,” he said. “In the first week of service this month, we saw a 34 percent increase over 2015 ridership which is probably due to the great weather we’ve been having as well as the economy doing better.”
Usually experiencing a decline in ridership in conjunction with lower or falling gas prices, Laketran’s ridership has remained steady, said Julia Schick, director of communications and marketing.
“This is our sixth year to offer extended holiday hours and our riders and their families have come to rely on it,” she said. “We are seeing the most growth on Saturdays which makes us believe riders are using it to get to retail and service jobs or shop locally.”
One of those individuals is Annie Nesbett, an Eastlake resident who works at Dillard’s in the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor.
“The bus I take has been busier but it’s very helpful,” she said. “When the mall’s hours extend, mine will too, so it’s nice to know I’ll still have a ride home after work.”
Linn-Zellhofer said she appreciates the feeling of independence Laketran provides.
“This time of year gets really busy, so to see people taking advantage of Laketran’s service is great. It makes sense and the company really does go above and beyond.”
Laketran’s extended holiday hours are: