Sound Transit’s quarterly ridership report is out, now with 300% more color. Total system ridership was up 10% year on year. ST Express (led by explosive growth in Snohomish County) and Central Link were right about there; Tacoma Link was up 16%, and Sounder was flat.

Over the same period, CT was down 3%, PT down 11%, and Metro up 4%.

24 Replies to “ST 2Q 2011 Ridership”

  1. Some of this could just have been all the UW passholders now swiping their Orca cards that before we just showed.

    1. ST’s Metro and Pierce buses use APCs. ST’s Snohomish buses use a manual driver count. So, no, that has nothing to do with it.


    SWIFT bus total boardings were up 16.2% in July 2011 over July 2010.

    SWIFT bus average weekday boardings were up 21.4% in July 2011 over July 2010.

    Central Link average weekday boardings were up 6% in July 2011 over July 2010.

    SWIFT bus averaged 4,053 boardings per weekday in July 2011.

    1. “Central Link average weekday boardings were up 6% in July 2011 over July 2010.”


      Guess “build it and they will come” really wasn’t anything more than a trite phrase . . . .

      Still LOTS of TOD apartments left at Othello Station; the prices of those will be dropping fast.

      1. Well, maybe if the Rainier Valley wasn’t so undesirable, it’d have a greater effect. Also, a lot of mistakes were made with that section of Link, such as at-grade alignment, and lack of transit connections. Bottom line is that that area requires a lot more work from planners and SHA.

  3. 511 and 513 definitely had big jumps due to the opening of the Mountlake Terrace flyer stop. They grouped 510 and 512 together for this mini-report, which is interesting; 512 is new, a combination of 510 and 511 that replaces those two routes on Sunday. So the 2010 column is 7 days of 510 ridership, and the 2011 column is 6 days of 510 and one day of combined users of 510 and 511 riders. That probably accounts for at least a significant part of the 510+512 growth.

    I’ll really have to take a look at a more detailed report. The 511 added lots of service hours, so it’s good to see the ridership payoff.

    1. I love seeing the 512 brought back. Having connectivity within Snohomish County is cool, and enables better headway to all the locations north of Lynnwood. I rode it a couple months ago, and people were really using it for intra-county trips.

      Given that Everett commuters have Sounder (if it becomes reliable), is there really a need for the 510 (instead of a 7-day, all-day, 512), once the Sounder reliability problems are solved?

  4. I like the idea of combining the 510 and 511 to create the 512 on Sundays. I’m just wondering if it should be expanded to include other times too, such as evenings and Saturdays. The saved service hours could be used to improve the frequency, so you could have a 512 every 15 minutes, rather than a 510 and 511 each every 30 minutes. For people going to Everett, it would be a wash between time on the bus vs. time waiting. For people going to Lynnwood, it would be a huge win, as they’d get double the frequency, with no increase in travel time. Other people would benefit as well, for example, I sometimes use the 510/511/512 to go between downtown at 45th St. as an alternative to the slow and overcrowded 71/72/73.

    Similarly, could the same idea happen in the south area too? The few times I’ve ridden 577 or 594 on a Sunday, both routes have been mostly empty. Had they been combined, ST could have saved half the service hours while providing the same level of service. Plus, if on Sundays, the 594 stopped in Federal Way, maybe the 574 could be truncated to a non-stop airport->DT Tacoma run only, or even cut altogether. Is it really worth all these extra service hours just to get from Seattle to Tacoma 5-10 minutes faster? Could the lost riders be won back through higher frequencies across the board that the saved service hours might enable?

    1. Combining the 510 and 511 doesn’t really enable doubling of the frequency. Adding the route length to the 511 to get to Everett is a substantial addition. Combining the two routes on Saturday, evenings, midday, or peak, is primarily a question of capacity. Namely, is there enough excess capacity on the existing 510 and 511 runs to be able to turn four runs of the two separate routes into two or three runs of an interlined route?

      Converting a 510 into a 512 would be much less expensive, albeit increasing the travel time between Seattle and Everett. But if there is latent demand to travel between the intermediate stops (including between Lynnwood and Everett), it will improve fare recovery.

      I’m not really advocating in either direction, as long as 512s become available all week.

      Similar math applies to the 577 and 594. Riders trying to get between Federal Way TC and downtown Tacoma are victims of the higher demand for rides to and from downtown Seattle, since Tacoma riders are not terribly interested in adding stops, and will always chime in that the 594 is always full, even if it isn’t.

  5. CT and PT ridership numbers are down, are we really surpised? With all of the cuts that they doing, the munbers seem to be a little low.

    1. CT hasn’t made its big cuts yet, though the writing on the wall can’t help. A big chunk of ST’s “explosive growth” in Snohomish County was essentially taken directly from CT because of service changes at Mountlake Terrace. So you’d have to look at different types of routes separately to see how CT is really doing in ridership.

      1. CT cut off Sunday service a year ago. When people are forced to buy cars to get around on Sundays, we shouldn’t be surprised that they then use their cars throughout the week.

  6. The effects of going to single car trains is showing up in the numbers.
    Vehicle service hours are down 13% for Link, and total trips YTD are down by 1,002.
    At the same time ridership is up 13%, which really helps out on the riders per hour, rising 22%.
    With an expected ridership gain of 30,000 per day in the first couple of years when U-Link opens, or just about double what Link is currently carrying, it looks like keeping the same schedule and adding back cars for 3 car consists is about the right level of service.

    1. When has Link ridership ever reached what Sound Transit “expected”?

      Those projections for the first couple of years after U-Link opens are likely just as unrealistically high as Sound Transit’s projections of Central Link’s ridership in its first couple of years, which ST made a few years before Central Link opened.

      ST’s riderhips projections for a few years in the future have been proven to be meaningless.

      1. Again, last I checked, ST’s Central Link projections were originally made for a Central Link which was an expansion of U-Link. The standalone numbers were… not adjusted properly, from what I can tell. The U-Link numbers are much more likely to be accurate.

    2. 3-car consists may be the “right level of service” for train passengers, … except that it reduces the allowable bus throughput in the DSTT.

      Again, I’m willing to put up with 10-minute all-day headway (vs. 8-minute peak headway) *if* that 10-minute headway allows for an easily-memorizable, public schedule. (That’s after U-Link opens.)

      It’s not as if any more buses will be transfering their duplicate-head over to Link, anyway.

      1. Since the train occupies an entire signaling block within the tunnel and buses cannot occupy the same block as a trai, a 1 or 4 car train will not drastically effect bus service since it all fits within the same signaling block. The only problems may be at the conflict points where the buses and trains merge together as the buses will have to wait a few seconds longer.

  7. At 498,046 boardings, the 550 boardings will be a nice addition, some day, to Link’s stats. I’d love to see per boarding costs broken down by route. I suspect the 550 is well below the average boarding cost of $7.49 for ST Express, but by how much?

    1. Word I hear is that more runs on the 550 will be coming in February, with some peak-hour routes being pushed out of the DSTT. I saw a crush-loaded 550 yesterday packed almost as tight as a can of 522.

      Metro keeps asking how to get more people to ride the bus. My answer: Add more buses to the most popular routes! (Same answer for ST.)

      One thing Metro glossed over in the suggestions for improving flow in the DSTT is the fact that more people will opt to take Link for intra-downtown trips, now that the buses won’t be free.

      Still, I think we need to keep at least one or two free north-south buses in downtown, lest we have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more on bus ticket books to sell below face value to human service agencies. According to a recent article in Real Change, the city and county each pitch in $750,000 annually toward those subsidized ticket books. My suggestion would be to make the RapidRide C, D, and E lines free downtown, providing more than adequate frequency, and enabling the free-ride options to match a brand. Until the E starts up, let the 358 be free downtown.

      But I still hope ticketbooks stop being sold to the general public after the end of this year. Metro is the only agency still doing this.

      I suggest buying a copy of the latest Real Change, as it has two full pages on the effects of the fare payment system on some of the homeless population.

      1. That word about more 550 runs, BTW, comes from an email response to one of my emails as a private citizen.

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