At a time when most prices are going up, pass prices on the Mountain Rides Transportation Authority’s Valley Route are going down.
The reduced prices for one-month or six-month passes were announced Wednesday by Mountain Rides’ Executive Director Jason Miller at the organization’s monthly board meeting. Reductions vary from just over 7 percent to up to 16.6 percent for youngsters and seniors.
“We’re trying to price those in a way that gets more passengers,” Miller told the board.
“I’m hopeful this will encourage more riders,” said board Chair Susan McBryant.
Meanwhile, ridership is already growing rapidly on the Mountain Rides system, up 13 percent in April from where it was in April of 2013.
The reduced rates for passes on the Valley Route, which connects the Bellevue and Hailey areas in the south valley with the Ketchum and Sun Valley areas in the north valley, go into effect on June 1.
The price of an adult six-month pass will drop by 7.3 percent, going from $340 to $315. The price for an adult one-month pass will drop about the same percentage, going from $65 to $60.
Seniors and youngsters get the best break with an unlimited summer pass dropping from $75 to $60.
Single or roundtrip Valley Route fares will remain the same, ranging from $6 for a roundtrip between Bellevue and the Ketchum-Sun Valley area to 50 cents for anyone boarding and departing a Valley Route bus within the city of Hailey.
The Mountain Rides town services in Hailey and in the Ketchum and Sun Valley area still remain the best bargain because they are free.
Bus passes can be purchased on line at www.mountainrides.org. They are also available from the Hailey Chamber of Commerce and at several retail outlets, including Atkinsons’ Markets in Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue, Main Street Market in Ketchum, Albertsons grocery store and the Stinker gas station in Hailey and Guffy’s and Splash & Dash in Bellevue.
Bus ridership numbers released on Wednesday show that there were 36,825 rides in April of this year compared to 32,375 in April of 2013, an increase of more than 13 percent.
“Overall, I think this was one of our best months in the history of the organization,” said Miller.
He noted that skier ridership numbers remained steady this season, even though skier numbers overall were down compared to last year. He said the main increase in ridership is coming from regular commuters who use the bus system year-round.
Mountain Rides reported that Ketchum-Sun Valley town routes showed the largest increase, up 46 percent this year compared to last year. Hailey “around town” ridership also increased but to a lesser extent, showing only a 9 percent increase in April.
The Valley Route actually dropped in April of this year by 4 percent compared to April 2013.