For transit agencies, figuring out how much service to put on the road on holidays is a guessing game. In good times, you might err on the side of providing more service and risk having empty buses. In frugal times, you might constrict service to the point that it inconveniences some riders.
Well, these are frugal times and many riders have been inconvenienced by the fact that Community Transit no longer operates on six “major” holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The rationale for cutting service on those days, along with Sundays, was that those holidays are more universally observed and transit demand was much lower. Plus, drivers were paid premium pay to drive on those low ridership days, making that service very expensive to operate.
Community Transit still operates on four “minor” holidays: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Friday. These are days when some businesses are closed and transit demand is lower than a typical weekday, but there are still a significant number of people riding the bus.
On these minor holidays, Community Transit usually runs a regular local service schedule. Even if people aren’t working those days, they still travel to do shopping, run errands or visit family.
On these days we reduce commuter service to downtown Seattle and the University District based on expected demand. For instance, this Friday, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. History tells us that few people change their work schedules and demand for commuter service that day remains high, so we’re running a regular schedule on all service that day. However, on Thanksgiving Friday, Nov. 25, we will operate only Route 414 with extra trips into downtown Seattle and only Route 855 to the University District. Past experience has shown that few people (about 20 percent) take our buses to Seattle on “Black Friday.”
As we prepare to cut service a second time in three years, it is a coincidence that our first day of the new service change is Presidents Day, Feb. 20, 2012. We might have run a reduced commuter schedule, but because our service will be reduced from what we operate now, we have decided to run a regular schedule that day. We’ll see how that goes.
Do you, or did you ever ride the bus on holidays?