While they are pre-audited numbers, Community Transit’s ridership totals for 2009 are in – a 4.6 drop in ridership after four straight years of record highs.
Thar’s not unexpected given high unemployment and downward national transit trends due to the recession. The American Public Transportation Association last week released a report showing an overall decrease of 3.8 percent in transit ridership in the U.S. last year.
The bright spots for the agency are the Highway 99 corridor, where the Swift bus rapid transit line has become the highest ridership route and helped ridership on the corridor increase 11 percent.
Also, the vanpool program hit its all-time ridership mark, climbing 1.6 percent higher than 2008 numbers, when high gas prices created a huge demand for these agency-sponsored pools.
Total ridership on the agency’s buses, vanpools and DART paratransit vehicles was 11.4 million last year, down from an agency record 11.9 million passenger boardings in 2008.
By transportation mode, that can be broken down to:
· 5.2 percent decrease in fixed-route bus ridership
· 1.6 percent increase in vanpool ridership
· 0.9 percent increase in DART paratransit ridership
On June 13, Community Transit will suspend all Sunday and holiday bus and paratransit service – including Swift, and will cut service on many routes the remaining days of the week. This is being done to balance the 2010 budget.
Swift, Highway 99 ridership
· Nov. 29, 2009, Swift begins service with 1,523 boardings that day
· December , 1,699 average weekday boardings
· January, 2,367 average weekday boardings
· February, 2,660 average weekday boardings
While many Swift riders have switched from Route 101, the local bus route that runs from south Everett to Aurora Village along Highway 99 as a companion to Swift, Route 101 ridership remains healthy and is second highest in Community Transit’s system, with an average of 2,218 weekday boardings in February.
Combined, Swift and Route 101 carried 4,878 passengers each weekday on February 2010, compared to the 4,376 combined weekday boardings of Route 101 and Route 100 (which Swift replaced) in February 2009. That 11 percent increase on the Highway 99 corridor came as other transit ridership in the system dropped 8 percent February 2009 to February 2010.
Importantly, Swift is already near the system average of productivity for buses, even with more Swift buses running than on other routes.
Weekday Productivity by Boardings/Hour per vehicle
December January February
Swift 11.6 16.1 18.1
Local 18.9 19.7 19.8
System 19.7 21.7 21.9
This statistic represents how many passengers get on one particular bus in a given service hour. Keep in mind that on each route there are multiple buses in service at the same hour.