By Martin Munguia
Transit ridership is always a sticky subject. You can look at hard numbers, but mode-to-mode comparisons, and sometimes even year-to-year or month-to-month snapshots on the same system can be apples to oranges.
But as we close in on a year of data, we can unequivocably say that Swift has met or exceeded all ridership expectations.
We had forecast that Swift corridor ridership would increase 25 percent in its first year. Considering that ridership on our buses overall has dropped this year, it is impressive that we’ve met this goal. The corridor statistic is important because when we started Swift we eliminated the one-way, peak-hour Route 100. Six months later we reduced frequencies on Route 101. While we knew we’d have people already riding buses on the corridor switch to Swift, we also expected overall ridership to increase.
It certainly did!
Corridor ridership is up about 24 percent since December 2009. If you take the Community Transit routes that run primarily on Highway 99/Evergreen Way/Rucker Avenue, you see that the corridor had about 6,600 passengers per weekday last December. In October 2010 those routes had about 8,200 boardings each weekday.
Swift bus rapid transit service is the reason for that increase. December 2009, the first full month of Swift, saw an average daily ridership of 1,699 passengers. Word was just getting out and we’re sure people still hadn’t figured out the differences between Swift and Route 101 or Everett Transit Route 9.
That changed right away, as January 2010 saw average weekday boardings climb to 2,367 passengers, a 39 percent increase!
Ridership continued to build all year and by October the average daily boardings were about 3,500 passengers. We had hoped to hit 2,500 boardings after the first year, but instead are closer to our four-year goal of 4,000 daily passengers on Swift.
Of course, one would expect the route on which we run the most service to have the greatest ridership, but Swift is also one of our most productive local routes. Our local routes carry about 20 people per bus per hour. In October, Swift carried nearly 25 people per bus per hour, even with more buses running from 5 a.m. to midnight.
Where do people board Swift? While every station has seen good activity, solidly a quarter of all boardings in either direction originate at the terminals of Everett Station and Aurora Village in Shoreline. Northbound, 216th Street by Stevens Hospital, 200th Street near Edmonds Community College and 148th Street are the next most popular boarding stations. Southbound, Casino Road, Pacific Avenue near the county campus and Airport Road are the next highest boarding stations.
What are your Swift impressions? Has Swift changed your travel habits?