Instead, like a rock, ridership numbers suddenly and sharply dropped on July 18.
Coincidence or not, July 18 stands out as the day newspapers and this TV station carried stories containing questionable allegations about internal matters at the Luzerne County Transportation Authority.
Councilman Edd Brominski was first to mention the phrase ghost rider. At a county council meeting the evening of July 17, Brominski publicly disclosed that bus drivers had told him they were ordered to inflate the number of senior riders on buses.
Brominski said at the time Patrick Conway, a recent appointee to the Luzerne County Transportation Authority, had spoken to as many as 10 drivers who it's alleged were instructed to "hit the button." Brominski, on Wednesday, said the phrase "hit the button" was used internally to describe the process by which drivers were told to inflate senior ridership.
The I-Team obtained a daily breakdown of July ridership figures from the transportation authority through a Right to Know request filed last week.
The figures reveal a significant decrease on July 18. Rider numbers slipped by more than 30 percent. The day before, total ridership was at 6,795. On July 18, the numbers were reported to be at 4,718. That's a loss of 2,077 in a single day.
The figures provided by the transportation authority do not break down numbers for senior riders.
Both Conway and Brominski on Wednesday evening said the figures obtained by Eyewitness News really came as no surprise. Conway again accused managers at the transportation authority of lying.
Eyewitness News was unsuccessful in reaching Stanley Strelish, executive director, on Wednesday evening. Authority offices had closed by the time Eyewitness News had reviewed the information provided through the Right to Know request.
Ridership numbers from July 1 through July 17 showed more than 6,000 passengers on weekdays. After July 18th's low of 4,718, the numbers rebounded slightly on Friday, July 19 to 5,564. For the remainder of the month, numbers remained between a low of 4,286 (July 30) and a high of 5,044 (July 23). The highest number clocked was on July 11 at 6,812.
Figures previously provided to Eyewitness News by the authority showed breakdowns by month only. In June, senior rider figures were reported to be 71,754. July, a noticeable decrease to 55,584. There was another substantial decrease in August of 36,253. September, the figures bottomed out at 32,856. Recently released, October's numbers showed a modest improvement to 36, 594.