In a recent post, Martin made the case — based on his own experience, and the 2009 route-level data — for abolishing the underperforming and almost entirely redundant Route 42. I think that post and the subsequent discussion demolished any reasonable argument in favor of the 42 based on mobility (“mobility” meaning the idea that transit agencies should attempt to provide some service within walking distance of every urbanized part of their service area). In this post, I’ll discuss more recent stop- and route-level data.
As always, refer back to my Route 36 post for a discussion of the format of this chart. Note that I’ve omitted the usual colored lines that break out ridership by time of day, as the sample sizes are very small and that data is very choppy.
One thing is immediately obvious: we’re talking very small numbers here — the maximum average load is about four or five people. These buses are nearly empty. The second is that the ridership pattern is somewhat muddled — there’s not the constant churn seen on Jackson or 3rd Ave, or the steady loading/unloading pattern usually seen out in the neighborhoods. Other than “not much” it’s hard to qualify the way this bus is being used.
We can put some exact numbers to this. In 2010, the service cost about $319,261 to operate (almost unchanged from 2009), at about 7% (from 15%) farebox recovery or $9.60 per passenger (up from around $6). Ridership declined 30% from 2009, bucking the systemwide increase in ridership. Over the course of a whole day of service, about 17 people board or deboard at either MLK & Walden or MLK & Della, the stop nearest Asian Counseling and Referral Services, the group that loudly continues to oppose abolishing the 42.
It’s demonstrably unnecessary for mobility, it’s costing a fortune, and riders are choosing in droves not to ride it. At this point, Route 42 is indefensible.