STERLING – What's that thing Indiana Jones said? It's not the years, it's the mileage.
In the case of the Whiteside County Public Transportation agency, in existence only since 2009, the mileage is getting better and better as the years progress.
Thanks to a combination of high gas prices, the rocky economy, and, most importantly, a higher profile in the county, WCPT ended fiscal year 2014 on June 30 on a high note, with 16 percent more riders and 18 percent more miles traveled than in 2013, Executive Director Tori McDaniel said.
"I think really what has kind of helped increase our ridership is just getting out into the community," McDaniel said.
Less than a year in the executive director's position, she has made an effort to raise the agency's public profile, meeting with community leaders throughout the county and increasing her agency's marketing efforts.
WCPT also has formed and is forming partnerships with a wide variety of other agencies and organizations, such as Sauk Valley Community College, Sinnissippi Centers and the Sterling-Rock Falls YMCA, she said.
As its popularity is growing, so is its visibility. More and more county residents outside Sterling-Rock Falls are scheduling rides, she said, and folks are seeing those white buses all over the area.
McDaniel has said she expects annual ridership to more than triple over the next decade-and-a-half, to more than 123,000 in 2030.
The increase in mileage also can be attributed to more out-of-county trips to cities such as Rockford, Peoria, the Quad Cities and Iowa City.
In fact, because of the Peoria increase, WCPT also has partnered with the Bureau-Putman Area Rural Transit. Riders tansfer to BPART to get to Peoria, and take it to hook up with WCPT to get home.
For more information on routes, fares and how to catch a ride, call 815-625-7433, go to ridewcpt.net or find Whiteside County Public Transportation on Facebook.