Sound Transit recently released their Second Quarter Ridership Report. Overall boardings were up over the same quarter last year, as usual, partly due to ever-increasing service levels.
Pierce County and South King buses and trains experienced a general decline in ridership, aside from Tacoma Link. As these subareas make up the vast majority of Sounder ridership, Sounder boardings overall took a hit.
The final version of the 2009 Service Implementation Plan (SIP) has hit the street. It details all the planned service changes through next February, as well as provisional changes through 2013. It’s also the most thorough data source about each route that I’ve seen released by any transit agency.
A cursory glance at the ridership numbers tells you something about the transit market in various corridors. Specifically, the 545 and 550 together carried 10,112 people a day in 2008. Not every 545 rider will end up on East Link, but then I’m counting nothing from the 554, 555, or 556, nor all the Bellevue/Redmond traffic on Metro.
The anti-transit Eastside Transportation Association slams East Link and prefers BRT on I-405 instead. Somewhat less ridiculously, Eastside Rail Now wants to emphasize the BNSF North/South rail corridor.
So let’s add up the riders. The 532, 535, 560, 564, and 565 feed Bellevue and Redmond from a huge area, Everett all the way down to Federal Way. Total ridership on these routes? 6,171.*
Dedicated believers, if they’re so inclined, can always dismiss ridership projections as biased by the agency that released them. But they can’t as easily dismiss the empirical data from Sound Transit’s ongoing experiment of connecting Eastside jobs to both densely packed residents in Seattle and widely dispersed residents to the North and South. Add in the fact that you have even more traffic passing in the opposite direction — Bellevue and Redmond to transit-optimized locations in DT Seattle — and it becomes a no-brainer.
* There are also a few Metro and CT routes in this corridor.