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One-third of GroveLink riders started using service in last six months

NEWS-TIMES FILE PHOTO - GroveLink, Forest Groves local transit service, attracts riders who use it to go shopping, to health care appointments, for recreational purposes and to connect with TriMet.A third of the riders on GroveLink, Forest Grove’s local transit service, just started using the service in the last six months, according to a rider survey taken in late January.

Average daily ridership was 166 in 2015 — up from 126 in 2014 — and survey results indicate ridership will continue to grow.

According to the survey, 81 percent of riders take GroveLink at least once a week, 64 percent use both the East and West loops, and 20 percent have been riders since the service launched.

The number of low-income riders has grown — from 30 percent in 2014 to 40 percent in the January survey.

Senior and disabled ridership has held steady at 31 percent, while 33 percent of riders identify as Latino and 59 percent identify as white.

In the “comments” area of the survey, the most common request — from 40 percent of riders — was for weekend service. Currently the buses run only Monday to Friday.

Lydia Corran, development and outreach manager for Ride Connection, the nonprofit which operates the service, said there is no funding for such an extension of hours and that it is not a priority.

But “we continue to advocate for it,” she said.

Currently, most riders (46 percent) use GroveLink for commuting to work. Other uses are:

Shopping (44 percent)

Completing a trip in conjunction with TriMet line 57 (31 percent)

Trips to health care facilities (19 percent)

Recreational purposes (22 percent)

A majority of riders (56 percent) use the transit service for more than one kind of trip.

Overall, customer satisfaction is high, the survey reports. “Drivers are well liked and often referenced in customer feedback.”

GroveLink was rated four out of five — or better — by 99 percent of its riders. Even the 3 percent of respondents who said the service quality had declined since they started riding it still rated the service as five out of five.