STB has obtained the monthly ridership report for Sound Transit. It won’t surprise anyone that ridership has skyrocketed.
Sound Transit continues a record-setting level of growth and carried 57,893 people each weekday in June. Total system ridership is up 18 percent on weekdays, 13 percent on Saturdays and 9 percent Sundays over the same time last year. You may have seen the recent press release about the staggering Sounder ridership increases in June and the second quarter, as citizens across the region saw gas surge above $4.00 a gallon in early June, and flocked to Sounder in increasing numbers. In the month of June, Sounder South Line showed an increase of 37 percent over 2007. With the opening of Mukilteo Station on May 31st, the North Line grew an incredible 44 percent over June 2007, and even increased 22% over the previous month because of the new boardings in Mukilteo. Tacoma Link continued to show minor drops of ridership compared to 2007, however the recent decrease on Sundays has turned around and is closer to previous totals.
Of those 58,000 weekday boardings, fully 44,416 of them were bus boardings. After all, as BRT fans like the Seattle Times point out, buses have the advantage of allowing a “spider web” of routes, so that it can serve more citizens.
Interestingly, the Sound Transit 2 documents indicate that the 2030 ST Express bus ridership (if the measure doesn’t pass) will still be about 52,000 per weekday — inspite of a much higher population, and a Link line that doesn’t overlap very much with ST Express routes. Meanwhile, in that year Central and University Link — claimed to serve a tiny percentage of the population — has an estimated daily ridership of 124,000, although that figure assumes no upzones and development at the stations.
If Sound Transit 2 does pass, bus ridership slides to 48,000, but LINK ridership balloons to 286,000 per weekday. It’s true that light rail won’t reach every nook and cranny of the district, but it’s the only alternative for a truly high-capacity system, one that will pass on lower operating costs to future generations and provide a platform for an even more comprehensive network later on.