Transit ridership has reached a 52-year high, reports APTA, with 10.7 billion transit trips taken in the year 2008. This represent a 4% increase over 2007, and vehicle miles traveled decreased 3.6% nationwide during the same period of time; it also represents a 38% increase since 1995, a rate that outpaces growth in both population and VMT. APTA’s data indicates that light rail systems enjoyed the largest ridership jump (8.3% increase), followed by paratransit (5.9% increase), commuter rail (4.7% increase), buses (3.9% increase), and heavy rail subways (3.5% increase). Although the Overhead Wire cautions us with a reality check, it is so encouraging to see that interest in transit nationwide survived both job losses and the decline in gas prices from a high near $5/gallon earlier in 2008.
With the notable exceptions of VTA’s light rail system and San Francisco Muni generally (both of whose ridership growth per mode fell behind the national average), ridership increases for major Bay Area transit operators not only reflect, but in most instances actually outpace, the national trend. Our commuter rail operators (ACE, Caltrain, and Capitol Corridor) significantly outpaced the national average, as did bus ridership for AC Transit and VTA:
|Operator||% Change (2007 to 2008)
||Unlinked Trips (2008)
|Golden Gate||Total: 2.73%
|SF Municipal Railway||Total: 2.55%
Trolley Bus: 2.56%
Muni Metro (LRT): 5.90%
Cable Car: 1.53%
Trolley Bus: 73,351,200
Muni Metro (LRT): 48,889,600
Cable Car: 7,833,800
|Santa Clara VTA||Total: 5.43%
Light Rail: 4.81%
Light Rail: 10,797,600
APTA’s statistics also noted that some of the largest jumps in bus ridership occurred in cities with population under 100,000 (9.3% increase for smaller communities, compared to a 3.9% average increase across all bus operators). This trend was also reflected in the Bay Area. Some of our smaller bus-only transit operators enjoyed comparable increases in ridership, e.g. Fairfield-Suisin Transit (9.73% increase), Tri Delta (9.91% increase), and Rio Vista Delta Breeze, whose 3,400 daily bus riders in 2007 jumped to 8,400 in 2008. WHEELS ridership increased just 5.35%.
Ok, so I’m no math major, and I know much is involved in these decisions, but … ridership of AC Transit increases, yet not only have fares been hiked, but a 20% cutback in service is a strong possibility? What gives? And I mean really, $2 for a ride on the vaunted 72R? Outrageous!
Scott, I agree it’s a shame that fare hikes and service cuts are coming at a time when more and more people are switching to transit. But the other factor here is that the State yanked operating funds away from transit agencies, so the money has to be made up somehow.
70 million bucks was just spent on BARTs oakland airport connector in the stimulus package. 25 million was spent on AC Transit. Perhaps more should have been spent on the needy bus systems which gets used more than BART does. BART always had a better lobby for it than AC Transit though, and it has richer riders. i think it’s politics as usual.