So far, so good! Cap Metro now has two months of good ridership figures that appear to support its controversial overhaul of bus routes that went into effect on June 7.
Here are the July figures:
So after five straight months (Jan-May) where ridership was lower each month than at the same time the previous year, Cap Metro has two consecutive months with year-over-year ridership increases.
As was the case in June, the main story is the dramatic boost in MetroRapid ridership. As I explained a few weeks ago, the MetroRapid ridership increases began last year:
Cap Metro ditched the higher ticket prices for MetroRapid at the beginning of 2017 and its fortunes began to reverse. In June of 2017, MetroRapid ridership was 37% higher than it was in June of 2016. In August of 2017, Cap Metro sought to further boost MetroRapid ridership by increasing the frequency to every 10 minutes during weekdays (thanks for reminding me, Caleb). Beginning in June, those buses now come at least every 15 minutes on weekends and run until 2:30 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The main effect of CapRemap appears to be reversing the steady decline in ridership on the regular routes. Ridership has not skyrocketed, but at least it’s no longer decreasing as rapidly as it was earlier this year. July 2018 was the first month since May of 2017 that fixed routes experienced an increase in ridership over the previous year.
Again, this is likely due to the fact that many more Austinites now have access to frequent bus service –– defined as service at least every 15 minutes. Under Cap ReMap, the number of frequent routes increased from six to 14.
Cap Metro responsibly noted in its press release announcing the figures that July 2018 did include one more weekday than July 2017. Indeed, the average daily ridership figures aren’t quite as awesome. Or are they?
While the weekday fixed routes ––the main course of any public transit meal –– experienced a decline, look at the weekend figures, particularly for MetroRapid. You’d almost think there are thousands of people in this city with places to go on the weekend. If that’s not a ringing endorsement of frequency, I don’t what is.