Here are the updated graphs from this post, plus a new one organized by Operations Year instead of Calendar Year. Link’s December ridership numbers led to some discussion last month about growth possibly slowing, but from this graph it is clear that December 2011 was just an abnormally high ridership month, making 2012’s growth appear more sluggish than it actually was. That brings us to my favorite graph, year over year change. After the aforementioned dip in December (note the mirroring spike in December 2011), growth returned to double digits this January. With this kind of sustained growth, it is very possible Central Link will exceed its pre-recession ridership estimates. Link is a 100 year investment and the first few years of ridership are a poor judge of its success or failure. That said, in the short term it certainly helps sell expansion politically. This is especially true now that we could be looking at an ST3 vote as early as 2016.


Traditional charts below the fold.




16 Replies to “A Slightly New Perspective on Link Ridership”

  1. Beyond the obvious trend of increasing ridership from year to year, there’s a strong and consistent seasonality here in the ridership patterns. The warmer the month, the higher the ridership. I wonder to what extent this is due to the seasonality of tourism and airport use. I imagine the seasonal variation will be reduced when University Link opens, as summer is the quiet time at UW.

    1. A lot of the seasonal variation is caused by sporting events. The summer has the Mariners, and the fall has the Seahawks, while September is the only month of the year that has both.

      1. Don’t forget the sounders. The MLS season runs March through December, and the Sounders average over 35,000 fans per game—much higher than the Mariners’ 25,000 average.

      2. That would be interesting to compare. Ridership by sporting event; Seahawks, Sounders, and Mariners.

        Are certain fan bases predominantly located in certain areas of the city that are more accessible by bus, train, car, park and ride, etc..?

      3. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Sounders have a higher percentage of fans in the city than the Seahawks and Mariners. Soccer fans tend to skew a little younger, which leads me to believe there’s a lower percentage of fans in the suburbs. I imagine Link for Sounders matches will explode when you have the Capital Hill and U District stations.

      4. Very much agreed, Andrew. Even now many of the trains are well represented with green on game days, particularly from the Columbia City stop.

      5. The nice thing about the green is that when I take the train southbound to Costco (transferring to the 131/132 at Lander or walking the last mile), it tells me I’d better take it on the return trip too rather than staying on the 131/132 to downtown, because they might get stuck for 10-20 minutes in game traffic.

      6. @Stu, Mariners play 81+ games per year to Sounders 17+. Fan of both. Just had to note. I would bet that a higher percentage of Sounders fans arrive by LINK than Hawks or M’s. Likely not the total number though just because of volume of baseball’s painfully long season… A study would be interesting!

      7. @Brendan The Mariners drew a little more than double the Sounders in total attendance last year. So the Sounders would need to have 2x the number of people riding Link to be the same. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was close. Especially since parking is usually cheaper and more abundant for Mariners games.

        Of course, I take the water taxi to both, so what do I know. :)

      8. @Brendan: I understand; I was just making sure it gets mentioned. And for the record, with CONCACAF and friendly games, the home number is closer to 25. Still not the same, but asdf mentioned the Seahawks who play less than 10 home games. With 65,000 seats for Seahawks per game, Sounders with 35,000 and a longer season come out ahead ;)

  2. I guess January 2013 is just a dot so we can’t see it in the “traditional charts” – could you fix that? Thanks!

    1. Sorry, that is beyond my limited Excel graphing skills. I got around it by shifting the order of the months (the Operations Year graph).

  3. Didn’t December of 2011 have a lot of snow? I seem to remember that. And during the snow Link was one of the few things running uninterrupted.

      1. I couldn’t remember. I had so much extra vacation that year I basically didn’t work most of December, and then the snow forced me to work from home. So it all runs together.

    1. In December 2011 Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve were on Saturdays and Christmas on a Sunday. In 2012 they fell on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. So December 2011 had 22 weekdays, all work days; December 2012 had 21 weekdays, three of which were holidays.

      If weekday holidays are included in “weekday” ridership numbers, this probably explains why 2011 had unusually good December ridership.

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