A number of Arlington Transit (ART) buses have been painted by local artists. (Arlington County government)

There is some cautious optimism among regional transportation officials that the Arlington Transit – ART – bus service may be turning a corner after several years of declining passenger counts.

The bus system, operated by a private firm under contract to the Arlington government, recorded a ridership of about 757,600 in the three-month period ending June 30, according to figures reported to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

That’s a rise of 2 percent from the same period a year before.

But the system still has some ground to make up: Its average daily ridership in the fiscal year ending in June (9,434) was down from 11,350 two years before.

(Ridership on local transit systems has ebbed and flowed in recent years, in part, depending on whether portions of the Metrorail system are shut down for maintenance, which does skew direct apples-to-apples comparisons between various time frames.)

For the quarter ending in June, ART service represented 2.2 percent of all Northern Virginia transit usage. The total of 34.4 million trips during that period counts Metrorail, Metrobus, Virginia Railway Express and local/regional bus systems.

Also posting year-over-year increases for the period were the Fairfax County Connector, Fairfax City CUE, Loudoun County Transit and OmniRide/OmniLink (Prince William) bus systems. Metrorail ridership dropped 3 percent, with Metrobus and Virginia Railway Express service off slightly.

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