Two-and-a-half months ago, when I was writing an article for the Chronicle about Cap Metro’s improving ridership figures, I asked the transit agency for ridership data for each route. They told me they didn’t want to do that so soon after the overhaul of the routes (Cap ReMap). I suspect they wanted to focus on the positive news about the systemwide ridership gains, and didn’t want people wigging out about declines on certain routes. Like a good reporter, I politely disregarded their preference and requested the data anyway. Like good government gatekeepers, they responded with silence. And as is often the case in such instances, I decided that I didn’t actually care enough about the information to raise a stink about it, plus I had a deadline to meet.
Alas, it was only a couple weeks after stonewalling me that Cap Metro published the route-specific figures on its website. I was just belatedly perusing the September figures and a few things struck me:
MetroRapids are killing it. It’s hard to understate just how dramatically the fortunes for CapMetro’s two “MetroRapid” routes (the 801 & 803) have changed since the agency stopped charging 50¢ more for those routes. Daily ridership on both routes has nearly doubled since the fall of 2016.
801: 5,868 –––> 11,052
803: 3,414 ––––> 6,008.
Now, because service on 801 & 803 has improved (lower fare, greater frequency, a few more stops), ridership on Routes 1 & 3 (nearly the same routes, except a lot more stops) has declined.
1: 6,165 –––> 3,799
3: 4,127 –––> 3,580.
But the overall ridership on those two corridors has increased.
801/1: 12,033 –––> 14,859
803/3: 7,541 –––> 9,588.
More importantly, the plunge in ridership those two corridors experienced after the introduction of MetroRapid in 2014 (and the marginalization of the 1 & 3, whose frequency was decreased) has been reversed. Back in the fall of 2012, the daily ridership on the 1 and 101 was 17,417. Still work to do on that. But ridership on the 3 and 103 was 5,197, just over half of current 803/3 ridership.
The particularly great increase in ridership on the 803/3 corridor may correspond with the rapid development of new apartment buildings on S. Lamar.
New Frequent Routes Are Mostly Working. Here’s how the frequent routes are doing compared to two years ago. The ones in red were already frequent.
2: 823 –––> 1,080
4: 1,219 –––> 1,870
7: 7,868 –––> 7,494
10: 4,378 –––> 7,401
17: 2,341 –––> 1,663
18: 957 ––––> 1,240
20: 4,208 ––––> 6,078
300: 5,967 –––> 7,194
311: 1,356 –––> 2,236
325: 2,363 –––> 3,318
333: 1,389 –––> 1,772
335: (Didn’t exist) ––––> 705
*A couple things to note. First, some of these routes were substantially reconfigured back in June, so it’s hard to determine to what extent the ridership increase is the result of the increased frequency. Second, it’s still unclear whether some of the ridership boosts have come from increased transfers, which Cap Metro anticipated when it implemented a more logical, grid-based system of routes.
As you can see, 7 has declined slightly and 17 has declined significantly, but the others have also seen ridership increases, some very dramatic. The new route, the 335, which runs east-west along 38th Street, is not doing very well. I wonder how its performance compares to Cap Metro’s projections.
Correction: I previously erroneously reported that daily ridership on the 801/1 was 17,217. In fact, the ridership is 14,859, and I neglected to take into account the old 101 in my assessment of that corridor (see update at beginning). Thanks to Caleb Pritchard for pointing out my error.