Amid the breaking news last week of the Sound Transit 3 Draft Plan Update, Sound Transit’s Q1 Ridership Report got a bit buried. The Q2 report will be far more consequential, being the first one with a full quarter of ULink ridership, but even so there are interesting (and mostly positive) trends from the Q1 data.
Even with just 2 weeks of ULink service, Link ridership was up 27% from Q1 2015, with 3 million boardings and an average weekday ridership of 38,371. Subtracting the two weeks of ULink service returns a 12.5% growth rate over Q1 2015. Q2 may be the first quarter in which Link ridership exceeds all ST Express routes combined, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Sounder set a new quarterly record, breaking the 1 million boardings mark with a weekday average of 16,292. The South Line was up 15%, and the North Line up 12%. But the South Line remains an order of magnitude larger, with nearly 11 times the ridership of the North Line.
Total ST Express ridership grew just one percent, with 4.4 million boardings and a weekday average of 62,509. Most routes added a small number of riders, but a few lost riders, including Routes 522 and 574. Route 586 lost 19% of its riders, partially driven by UW students shifting to the 590s+Link in the final 2 weeks of March. New service on Route 541 only existed for one week of Q1, and it didn’t start quickly out of the gate, with just 2,215 riders, or 443 per weekday.
Tacoma Link lost 5% of its riders. Tacoma Link has lost ridership in 4 of the last 5 quarters, though total decline has been small.