“It’s cheaper overall if you include gasoline prices, insurance and the time you might get stuck in traffic in your car,” she said. “If someone takes the bus or train, it could conceivably take them less time than if they were driving.”
The increase in riders can also be attributed to the inherent strength of the bus system and personal finances, Emmer said.
“I like it because I don’t have to catch three or four buses to reach my destination,” said Mike Quinn, 66. “I just need one, and it connects me with the train. I’ve been riding BurbankBus for a couple of weeks and I can’t find one thing wrong with it.”
Some riders, however, are a bit more lukewarm on the service.
“I wait a lot for buses in the afternoon, and sometimes they don’t even stop; they just keep going,” said 52-year-old Burbank resident Sue Wyatt. “I’ve been riding it since it first started, and I like it OK.”
BurbankBus has also made strides toward an environmentally friendly fleet that could lure some riders away from cars and to buses, some of which are easier on the atmosphere, Emmer said.
“Environmental concerns are a significant reason that people look to alternative modes of transportation,” he said.
Within a year, BurbankBus is set to unveil its hydrogen- powered bus — one of the first city-run hydrogen-powered buses in the country — and five new compressed natural gas buses that will replace an outdated line of vehicles that have outlived their shelf life, he said.
“We look forward to being on the cutting edge,” he said.
Emmer also points to an October accident on the Golden State (5) Freeway in which a truck collision caused the deaths of three and temporarily closed the freeway.
“We benefited from the closure,” Emmer said. “During the closure, BurbankBus provided the final link to the city’s employment destinations.”
While those riders may be temporary, as the freeway is once again operational, Emmer hopes that at least some will continue to opt for the bus.
“The [Golden State Freeway] incident allowed us the opportunity to provide service to new riders,” he said.
“Hopefully they will continue to utilize us as an option. We hope we’ve been able to demonstrate that we are a viable source of transportation.”
BurbankBus officials are encouraged by the fact that most of its riders are what Emmer refers to as “choice riders,” more permanent passengers who choose the bus over their cars.
“These are people that have chosen to use public transportation rather than take their vehicles,” he said.
“They are typically commuting to work and make up a large portion of our ridership.”