Sound Transit’s second quarter numbers are out, and the agency posted an 11% year-over-year gain in ridership. ST Express Bus was up 11%, Central Link is up 10% to 26,268 weekly boardings, and Sounder is up 15% on weekdays. Paratransit decreased 29% due to an accounting change.
The Sounder numbers are interesting because they come despite a decrease in event drips offset by an even larger increase in commuter trips. No doubt higher gas prices and falling unemployment are playing a role here and in the Central Link numbers. Seattle unemployment is now at 7.8%, down 1% from a year ago and 2% from the 2009 peak. Gas prices in Seattle peaked at $4.33/gallon in May, up $0.27 from May 2011.
Also, Sound Transit seems to be getting more efficient with its service hours. ST Express ridership increased 11% even with a 3% drop in overall revenue vehicle hours operated. This lead to a 15% increase in boardings per revenue hour, bringing the cost per boarding down to $6.04 from $7.49, a whopping 21% drop. This efficiency comes at a price, of course, and Routes 540 and 560 were the ones paying it. Both had their hours reduced and in turn showed double-digit decreases in ridership.