More students are using Rapid Ride for transportation to school

RAPID CITY, SD (KOTA TV) - Even though there were two fewer school days in February this year than last, more students continued to catch the city buses.

Rapid City Rapid Ride increased youth ridership by more than 10% in February when compared to the same month last year.

The program started in September of 2016 and since then 173,000 youth passenger trips have been recorded. February added to that number.

City of Rapid City communication coordinator, Darrell Shoemaker, says “February was another solid month for rapid transit service especially for the youth passenger trips. We had about 12,000 youth passenger trips recorded in February. That's a 10 percent increase over February a year ago."

With more and more students taking advantage of the program, Rapid Ride might need to increase their staff and provide more buses.

"Our rapid transit service is monitoring that very carefully. Sometimes we have routes in which there are a number of kids at the stop and so we'll have a backup bus that will go in there and pick up the students and make sure they get where they need to be,” states Shoemaker.

We asked Shoemaker if the city would ever charge the school district for allowing their students to ride the buses for free.

"We are always kind of reviewing the program and we're in contact with the school district officials talking about areas that we can enhance the options. Right now, again, we are just making sure that it's in their lexicon really that utilizing this when it's cold weather, when they have events going on. So we will remain in contact with school officials in ways we can enhance the program," explains Shoemaker.

Katie Urban who is the spokesperson for Rapid City Area Schools told us that the students riding city buses will not affect those riding school buses since the district takes kids home who live outside of city limits.