Sound Transit has released new station level boarding data that, unlike past releases, covers entire years instead of periods between service changes. Here is the raw data. In all cases the figures below refer to daily weekday boardings.
Total weekday boardings are still highest at the terminus stations, with the Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill making up 27%.
In absolute terms, daily boardings at SeaTac and Westlake also grew the most. Southeast Seattle stations were mostly in the middle. The y-axis is weekday daily boardings.
However, the Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill had four of the five highest percentage growth rates.
About 1 out of 3 new boardings took place in Southeast Seattle.
When looking at the data, it’s important to remember that almost every trip has a return, and this data only looks at boardings, not exits. For example, every morning I get on the train at Columbia City, adding a boarding. However my evening International District boarding is also due to there being a Columbia City station for me to exit. So while Southeast Seattle may only directly account for 27% of the boardings, it likely has a role in over half of all boardings. Similarly, as Southeast Seattle accounted for 33% of all new trips in the 2011-2013 time period, as many as two thirds of new trips are likely starting or ending in Southeast Seattle. Although some trips may well be intra-valley or one-way, these are likely very small as the 7 and 8 are often far better suited for the former.
I don’t think it’s coincidence that the two Rainier Valley stations with the most new development have had the highest ridership growth. The North Rainier Rezone and Bowtie plan will hopefully generate stronger growth at Mt. Baker as well. While Rainier Beach station doesn’t currently have the fundamentals for strong residential growth, there have been some great bus reorganizations suggested by Aleks and Bruce that would improve personal mobility and increase ridership.
Overall, ridership is heading in the right direction. There is no need to listen to calls for a one-time bump in ridership that might come from subsidized parking. Instead we should keep to the path that’s generating all day, sustainable growth: increase the number of people allowed to live near the stations and improve the bike, pedestrian, and bus connections to them.