ST Express increases are inflated by the change in counting downtown rides. Nevertheless, the 550, 554, 555/6, and 577/8 all increased over 20%. The 550 also did it from a huge base of 505,000 boardings, far and away highest in the system. The 555/6 is much smaller, but wasn’t affected by the downtown change and had the largest increase at 31%.
The loss of the ride free area had surprisingly little impact on reliability. ST Express on-time performance slipped from 88.7 to 85.6% from the same time the previous year; Central Link (which uses a tighter standard for reliability) went from 90.8% to 90.2% over the same period.
The other notable event was the drop in scheduled Sounder trips that operated. Largely thanks to a record-shattering mudslide season, ST operated 92.8% of its trips, down from 99.3% (including both lines).
ST Express and Central Link continued their back and forth battle to have the cheapest operating cost per boarding (setting aside Tacoma Link). As Central Link’s ridership peaks in the summer, ST Express was once again cheaper in the 4th quarter, but for the year as a whole Central Link wins 2012 ($6.07 to $6.51).
ST also released its January Ridership Summary. Central Link’s Weekday/Saturday/Sunday average was 24,938/16,025/12,718, a 12.6% increase on weekdays over January 2012. Mudslide-infested North Sounder lost 28% of its total boardings, while South Sounder increased an astounding 35%, partially due to the opening of Lakewood Station. 11,142 riders boarded a Sounder train on an average weekday.
ST Express boardings for the month were up over 18%, partially a result of counting former ride free area trips.