Ridership is down across Transit Authority of Warren County programs and no one is quite sure why.
A report presented to the authority's board of directors showed significant declines compared to the same month last year.
The Medical Assistance program, which provides transportation for people to doctor's appointments who have an eligible ACCESS card, saw a decline of 557 riders in September compared to a year ago.
The Shared Ride program, which provides door-to-door service, is available for trips to "senior centers, medical appointments, visiting, shopping or just for a day out," according to the authority's website. Ridership in that program stood at 3,952 in September of 2011, but fell back to 3,075 last month.
Fixed Route ridership, which has routes that criss-cross Warren County, fell even further, from 6,179 in 2011 to 5,160 last month.
With a couple exceptions, ridership in each program has been down in a similar comparison for July and August.
The findings reflect ridership for the first quarter of the authority's fiscal year.
Board members expressed concern at the decline and said that they can't figure out why the declines occur, but noted that ridership does go through cycles.
A 25-cents per ride fee was attached to the shared-ride program earlier this year. The program was previously free of charge.
Aldrich was asked whether the fee might be limiting ridership. He said that very few have complained about the fee but noted that some may be making two to three stops, instead of four or five, because of the 25-cent fee in effect for each time they get on the bus.
He was also asked if the issue was the inconvenience of needing additional quarters or the added expense. Aldrich indicated that the added expense is more likely a factor.
It was noted that one to two people not riding each day can make a substantive effect in the numbers, compounded by the fact that if someone stops riding, they're gone; leaving the authority without the option of asking why someone might have stopped riding.