December ridership up 5%

I just got a hold of Cap Metro’s ridership report for December. It looks like more good news for the transit agency as it tries to reverse a multi-year ridership slide.

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This means that year-over-year ridership has increased in six of the seven months since June, when Cap Metro implemented a redesigned network that includes more than twice as many “frequent routes” where buses come every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Granted, ridership still isn’t nearly as high as it was only a few years ago. The ridership in December was higher than December of 2017 and 2016 but slightly lower than in December of 2015 and much lower than in 2014, when there were 2.46 million boardings.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story. It’s important to consider weather patterns or any major events that may have shaped behavior. At first glance, it looks the weather was pretty similar in December 2017 to December 2018. They both had a handful of rainy days and about a dozen days where temperatures dropped below 40. Nothing extreme.

While the new routes have clearly increased ridership, what is not clear is whether they are doing so efficiently. In other words, how much more has Cap Metro had to spend (by increasing frequency) to boost ridership?

2 thoughts on “December ridership up 5%

  1. In June, CapMetro began a pilot program of free rides for K-12 students. It was made permanent in December and supported by many families and school organizations, such as the ACPTA. Having not benefitted from any of the recent route changes (quite the opposite), I know we did our part to increase our usage during the pilot, to demonstrate our support. I think your analysis doesn’t take any of this into account.

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment. I have explored the potential that the free rides are boosting ridership:

      Right now, there is really no way to assess the impact that the free rides are having on ridership. The agency hasn’t broken down that data, or at least hasn’t offered it publicly. Students accounted for about 5% of rides, but what percentage of those students were riding the bus before the free rides? We don’t know.

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