While much of the debate about the possible Queen Anne-Downtown-First Hill-Madrona restructure I presented last week centered on the long tail of the 4S, some commenters raised good questions about current ridership patterns on Queen Anne, and whether abolishing local service on the northern tail of the 2 in favor of more service on the 13 left too big of a gap in all-day service at the top of Queen Anne.
If you’re not already familiar with the details of Queen Anne service, I recommend opening this Google map and this Metro map in separate browser windows, and examining on each the alignments of the 2 and 13. The Metro map gives a better sense of context, but the Google map will allow you to zoom in and see the street grid in more detail.
Data and analysis after the jump.
Ridership Patterns on Route 2
As always, an explanation of the meaning of these charts is available in my post about Route 36. Here’s what I see in the data:
- 1st & Mercer stands out as an activity center. Other routes that serve this stop (or the southbound stop on Queen Anne & Mercer) include the 1, 8, 15, 18 and 30, making this an important transfer point.
- Density drives ridership, which will come as no surprise to long-time readers. You can guess the density of the walkshed very well just by looking at the boarding activity at a particular stop.
- People like riding buses up big hills, another shocker. Note the asymmetry between southbound and northbound boardings, in the section between Galer and Mercer.
- Ridership is strong across the board until Galer St. After that, something interesting happens. Ridership to Downtown essentially disappears in all time periods. Northbound ridership almost disappears, except in the PM peak and evening, where on average a handful of people use the bus, some almost to the end, on every trip.
- 6th & McGraw is unusually strong for northbound deboarding. This stop is only three blocks from the 13 and four blocks from the terminal of the 3, making me think that some riders are using the 2 (plus a short walk downhill) as a substitute for those routes.
Ridership Patterns on Route 13
Between Downtown and Galer St, this chart is basically the same as the 2N. Between Galer and Crockett, the 13 exhibits more ridership and boarding activity, although still an essentially residential pattern of loading up inbound and unloading outbound. The service is little-used past McGraw.
Ridership Patterns on Route 2X
Operating only the peak, the 2X behaves as you’d expect from an commuter variant of the 2N, with only the 1st & Mercer stop showing any significant churn of riders. Interestingly, the AM trips to Downtown are stronger than the PM trips to Queen Anne, all the the way to the northern terminus. This goes against the general observation thet the PM peak is usually stronger than the AM peak.
Comparing the Tails
It’s evident from the chart that the tail of the 13 (i.e. north of Galer) is utilized rather more than the tail of the 2N, but the raw data allow me to quantify how much. This table summarizes the numbers:
Some caveats about these results:
- If you look at the schedule for the 2 and 13, you’ll note that they have similar frequency and span of service (if anything, the 2N has more service than the 13) so this should be an apples-to-apples comparison.
- I have defined the tail of the 2N to begin at the second stop on Galer after leaving Queen Ann Ave, as the stops adjacent to Queen Anne Ave are extremely close to the 13.
- I have omitted values for times when the 2X operates, as ridership loss there from deleting the 2N tail would presumably be insignificant. I have also eliminated early-morning service, as ridership on either tail is insignificant.
- This analysis slightly overstates the importance of the 2N tail, as some stops near the end and on Galer are still very close to stops on the 13.
The Value Judgement
Ultimately, whether you think it’s right to delete the 2N in favor of (more than) doubling the frequency on the 13 comes down to whether you’re willing to make a smaller number of people walk further than most to the nearest bus (and make small fraction of that group switch to paratransit) in order to simplify and streamline the bus network and make it more convenient for a rather larger number of riders. My generally-utilitarian philosophy, the existence of other distantly-served little pockets of the city, and the compelling need to reduce costs and drive ridership suggest to me that it’s the right thing to do.