This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Here are a few different ways to look at the data (again click image for higher resolution images).

The first graph is daily ridership per mile. High ridership per mile correlates with high density and all day activity along the whole corridor. As you can see the center city routes are the highest, followed by major arterial routes and then commuter routes. These are the routes that you get the most bang for your buck if you build rail. Some of these routes are so short that a streetcar would be much more appropriate than light rail. Funny thing is that many of these routes can’t have rail because they are too hilly.

I only did the top 20 routes because I had to manually calculate the length of the routes. If anyone wants to figure out the length of the remaining routes and e-mail them to me I’ll redo the graph.

Ridership Per Mile

The next graph is a little more complex. It shows annual ridership per annual service hour. As you can see the routes are all over the place. I think that it is a combination of lots of factors and can’t be attributed to any one thing. A high ranking could mean:

– it has lots of demand and fewer than average service hours
– it doesn’t have a lot waisted time doing deadheads
– it doesn’t get caught in congestion (thus speeding it up)

Any other ideas?

Annual Ridership Per Annual Service Hour

15 Replies to “More Ridership Data”

  1. It’s dangerous to equate “ridership” with “boardings”. Long haul commuter routes (the 3 digit routes) have a lower number of boardings but those people ride much farther per boarding. So it may be just as crowded at any point on the ride as a short haul route where 5-10 people are getting on and off every couple of blocks. Another example; a 15 Express would likely show lower “boardings” than the 15 but might be just as crowded as the standard 15 at peak hours. In other words, “boardings” doesn’t equate to percentage of capacity used (capacity utilization). Boardings per stop might be a better comparison. They’re all taking pictures of the same thing but what you see varies dramatically with the lighting.

    The Route Performance Reports have a number of metrics to try and examine the relative value of different routes based on goals such as reduced VMT, system ridership, fare recovery, peak hour congestion relief, etc. Metro uses Rides/revenue hour and passenger miles per revenue hour in trying to determine route effectiveness. ST gives us boardings per trip. All of these can be related to capacity utilization whereas boardings per mile of route length is wildly distorted by frequency and trip distance.

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