Sep14WeekdayMovingAVGFollowing the pattern of the last 5 years, Link ridership began it’s winter lull in September, however weekday ridership still grew an amazing 15.2% over September 2013.

September’s Central Link Weekday/Saturday/Sunday average boardings were 35,157 / 28,778 / 25,580, growth of 15.2%, 14.2%, and 13.3% respectively over September 2013. Sounder’s weekday boardings were up 15.0% with ridership increasing on both lines. Tacoma Link’s weekday ridership increased 0.4%. Weekday ST Express ridership was up 7.2%. System wide weekday boardings were up 10.2%, and all boardings were up 13.6%. The complete September Ridership Summary is here.

My charts below the fold.

Sep14WeekdayRidership Sep14WeekendRidership Sep14WeekdayChange Sep14WeekdayMovingAVG Sep14WeekdayMovingAvgChange

62 Replies to “September 2014 Sound Transit Ridership Report – Rolling Along”

      1. That’s pretty incredible improvement bringing down monthly Access boardings (these are the ones that are like $30-40 per boarding, right?) Anyone have any idea what’s caused the drop over the past year?

      2. Maybe I’m missing a tab, but all I see here is system boarding information and not route boarding information.

  1. It’s amazing what … Eliminating school buses for high schools and forcing kids to ride Link, Eliminating parking spaces, increasing fees associated with driving and owning a car, Eliminating road lanes, Reducing the speed limit, Demonizing parking spots and garages, Creating gridlock by building millions of bus bulbs around the city under the guise of safety that drivers get stuck behind, Eliminating the competition, Forcing people to move from the suburbs to urban centers along Link’s route, Ruining the economy so that people can no longer afford houses and have to live in micro apartments in the city; Gerrrmandering an alignment to serve an airport and sports stadiums to give the illusion of popularity so the gullible sheeple thinks the line is legitimately popular, Demonize anyone who dares criticize Link in comment sections as being a troll … etc, etc, etc.

    1. How exactly is it gerrymandering to provide connections to major activity centers like stadiums and the airport?

      And “forcing” people to move from the suburbs to urban centers along Link’s route???

      I did enjoy your post for the comedic value though, so thank you. It has kind of a Lloyd Christmas quality to it, which I appreciate!

      1. Thank you for the compliment. Dumb and Dumber is one of the top three greatest movies ever made.

        I forgot to finish my comment. I started out by saying “It’s amazing what …” Then I proceeded to list a bunch of devious plots and schemes designed to increase ridership on public transportation. But I should have ended it with … “will do for Link ridership numbers.”

      2. When I saw those numbers, my first thought was, “Sam’s not going to like this.” And I was right.

        Also, my favorite part was “forcing kids to ride Link.” It sure beats walking 6 miles to school every day in the snow, and uphill both ways, too, like I had to do!!!!

      3. Sam’s going to really like the Gerrymandering that was done for U-Link. How dare those fiendish transit villains build a rail line between downtown and a major university!

    2. Sure lets go with more broken down Berthas and tolled tunnels; this seems to be working out well for us. Oh, and heck lets build the link to the dumps and low demand areas, this will maximize subsidies to help pay for link. Oh and lets support the cost of the auto so we can fund GMs and Cryslers type bailouts. And what about the human fulfillment factor gained through the support of garage builders, car insurance and petro companies, along with parking garages and state fees. Oh, and heck, continually building vertically without room for accompanying horizontal space for roads and parking will just take care of itself. Tail-pipe CO2-suckers unite and reclaim our Koch Brother ideals.

      1. Here is my point. There is one side saying look at these great numbers! People love Link! And that is part of what goes into the numbers. But there’s something else that goes into the numbers. There’s something else that making people ride Link besides just people just choosing it of their own volition. There are other things going on out there that are, yes, forcing people onto the train. Don’t be naive. Much of this is by design. Do I used exaggeration and hyperbole to make my point? Absolutely not.

      2. Sam,

        “Ruining the economy”? “Ruining the economy”? In one of the fastest growing inner cities in the country? Dude, take off your ideological glasses and look at the real problems the region is facing.

        #1 is that it’s running out of sprawlable room. Yes, down by Covington, Sumner and Enumclaw there’s still land available. And on the Highlands east of Sammamish Lake and on out the I-90 corridor there’s some. But there are no more Kent’s to be had, at least not in less than an hour plus commute, even at highway speeds.

        #2 is that many — almost all within Bellevue and Seattle — of the existing freeways have been widened to the limits of their rights of way, and buildings exist just beyond those limits in many places. They can’t effectively be widened without taking blocks of buildings to one side or the other, and neighborhoods simply won’t stand for that these days.

        #3 is that the suburbs are boring, and the kids know it. They had to grow up in them and want no part of that blandness. In the sixties the first generation of sprawl kids went to San Francisco and got a taste of the city. Many liked it and said good-bye to Omaha and Little Rock, for good. They aren’t going back, even in retirement. And new kids are arriving every day and again, finding that they prefer the vibrancy and opportunities for random meetings with interesting people more compelling that suburban sameness. If you want to be a full time unpaid landscaper, the burbs are for you. If you want something else, they can be a burden.

        #4 is that the cities are where economic opportunity exists. “Cities” obviously in our region includes Bellevue and Redmond.

        Take all those things: interesting jobs increasingly concentrated once again in city centers rather than suburban office parks, people wanting to live densely in order to have a more interesting life, limited to no possibility of expanding roadway capacity, especially in geographically very constrained Seattle, and the relative dearth of land suitable for the classic suburban sprawl model here in Pugetopolis, and one is left with no transportation alternative except maximization of the existing roadway capacity.

        That means giving transit, which uses road space much more efficiently than do private vehicles, aggressive, even pugnacious, road priority. It means favoring clusters of relatively high density so that high capacity transit which avoids roadways can be efficiently provided to large concentrations of riders. And it means removing car storage from the roadways so that extra lanes to service greater volumes of peak hour capacity can be supplied, often in the form of reserved bus lanes, which have the highest capacity in terms of people transported per hour of any roadway structure.

      3. There are still some vacant lots on Fox Island. Granted, it’s an hour drive or so to the nearest employment center of any size and taking transit isn’t an option unless you drive into Gig Harbor, but there are vacant lots there.

      4. Glenn,

        Ah, Fox Island, hearth and home of the inimitable Rixie Delay. My sincerest apologies for having omitted such a magnet for development.

    3. “Forcing people to move from the suburbs to urban centers along Link’s route”

      Were you forced to move to an urban center? How? People are choosing to move to urban centers, and their higher real-estate value proves it. Nobody is forcing existing suburbanites to move. At most, new suburbanites are finding fewer new subdivisions available, but they still have many choices besides urban centers. The people who don’t have choices are those who want to live in urban centers but can’t because there aren’t enough of them to go around.

      “people can no longer afford houses and have to live in micro apartments in the city”

      A huge exaggeration. Micro apartments are a small fraction of the housing available. The people going into them are entry-level renters, short-term leasholders (3 months), and those who really want to live near an urban center like those tiny-apartment dwellers in Mahattan. That’s a different market from would-be homebuyers who have more money, enough for a regular apartment. And microdwellers have a choice too: large apartments at the same price or less are in Kent, Federal Way, and even Tukwila and the 101 part of MLK.

      “Gerrrmandering an alignment to serve an airport and sports stadiums to give the illusion of popularity”

      Airports and stadiums and other large collections of pedestrians are what HCT is for, and what other kinds of transit can’t serve effectively.

      “millions of bus bulbs around the city under the guise of safety”

      That’s not what bus bulbs are for. They’re to eliminate the delay of buses waiting for an opening to pull back into traffic. A bus carries twenty or fifty people, so it should have ten or twenty times priority as the two or three cars it’s displacing. The bus bulb is a lot less advantage than that.

      It’s an interesting question how much eliminating school buses, parking spaces, and bus routes contributed to Link’s ridership. Why don’t you research it and write an article?

    4. Demonize anyone who dares criticize Link in comment sections as being a troll

      It’s true. Every time someone makes fun of Sam in comments I go ride Link a few times to celebrate.

    5. Hilarious! yes! That’s exactly what an anti-transit troll would sound like. Well done. I especially liked the part about not demonizing someone as a troll, just because they go out of their way to come to a pro-transit blog to post anti-transit rhetoric.

      The bit about ruining the economy is also hilarious.

      4 stars! great satire.

    6. Yes Sam it is all true. Even now blue helmeted UN troops are fanning out to remove suburban dwellers from their homes at gunpoint to march them into cell-like micro apartments. All to further Agenda 21, the war on cars, and to boost link ridership numbers.

      1. Look up Pol Pot. He emptied Cambodia’s cities and forced people to live and work in the countryside. “Sam, that happened like a hundred years ago. There’s no way that could happen today!” Uh, try the mid to late 1970’s. So if a government as recent as a few decades ago could force people out of the cities, why couldn’t a government today merely create policies to move people into the cities? Something to think about. And China plans to move 250 million people into the cities by the year 2025. Bing it if you don’t believe me.

      2. It’s private industry that wants people to live in cities. It creates a more favorable labor market for employers as there are more employees to choose from.

        Government policies in the Seattle area actually encourage people to move outside the city, which is why you see so much sprawl into neighboring areas. The fact that people would rather defy those policies and live in the city anyway speaks volumes.

        If Seattle area government policies encouraged people to live in the city, the population density would probably be closer to that of Paris (54,000 per square mile) rather than the 6,700 per square mile that is Seattle.

        Seattle doesn’t even make the list of the top 131 densest populated cities in the USA:
        The least dense city on that list is around 10,000 per square mile.

        In fact, Seattle is so light on density that in terms of the density of the most crowded city, Washington (with Seattle as its most crowded city) ranks #25:
        behind Idaho, Missouri, Arizona, Texas, and a few other bastions of the conservative movement.

      3. Sam, if you hear of any plans from DC or Olympia to enact a genocide anywhere near as severe as Cambodia’s, please let us know so we can fight against it. Until then, we’ll go on freeing people from obstructive anti-urban coercion.

      4. Sam,

        “Bing” is not yet a verb. When “Bing” presents search results for anything except paid placements, perhaps it will gain the status of an “adverb”. But the train has left the station for “Bingleberry”. It’s just another has been from MegaHard’s stirring Ballmer era.

    7. Probably getting a wrong impression from the media as usual, but have this picture of people forced out of their homes as desperate victims of torture and shrapnel wounds, robbed of their possessions and fleeing in terror with black smoke boiling up in the background.

      But all along, I’ve been blind to the wretched sorrow in which real refugees sit at their fireplaces above Lake Union, having choked down a meal costing only slightly more than the average person’s yearly food bill.

      And worst of all, being brainwashed by the dreaded ST to constantly outbid all competition for the pathetic luxury condominiums which the tyrants are forcing them to accept in place of the ugly viewless homes which suddenly plummeted in value from ten million dollars to nine million due to transit taxes.

      And the still poisonous remnants of the Glass-Steagall act. In spite of Steven’s best efforts to kill this family disgrace with karate.

      Initiative whatever about guns won’t help the oppressors. In their fury, when they find out the truth, these people will use their iPhone’s “Freedom from Transit” app to spring the locks and will go roaring up Westlake waving fireplace pokers and tongs, down to the Tunnel, and leap aboard the 550 and the 512 (since the evil ST will have put it in the Tunnel out of sheer sadism) to Go Home. Guantanamera!

      So unlike all these other mean people, Sam, I’ll never tell you to crawl under the SR99 bridge in Fremont and help your buddy finish eating the VW. Your tormentors are only angry because they’re too weak to resist the temptation to write refutations when they be texting somethng.


    8. Ya. Eliminating school buses for high school kids is certainly responsible for this ridership increase because, you know, ridership peaks in July when school is out! Huh?

      Only in the Dr. Suess world of Sam does that make sense. Eaten too much green eggs and ham lately I’d guess……

  2. These graphs tell part of the story. …much like the report. I want to see a more complete report showing the boardings from each station. Are more people hopping on downtown because fare enforcement doesn’t exist? There were a bunch of home games during September, so numbers could be skewed. …especially with the September spike.

    October had very few home games scheduled, so I’m curious to see the comparison.

    1. I’m consistently baffled by the argument that sports games “skew” the numbers. Transit isn’t just for commuting, people! It’s just another way to get around the city. And one of the things people do in the city is attend sporting events.

      1. *puts on commentator hay*

        “but we all know that nobody who goes to sports games lives in SeaTac/SouthSeattle or SLU! HA! They are drive from Bellevue and Puyallup!”


      2. I’m befuddled by all the conjecture from my earlier comment.

        I never said anything against people using transit to reach events. In fact, I advocate people us transit to reach major events in town. Less stress, less money, less drama….usually.

        I had stated that may skew the numbers. Remember, in September there were a number of Mariners games with ticket sales that almost filled Safeco Field (when they had a chance at the Wild Card). In addition, there were Seahawks and Sounders games that mucked up traffic triggering warnings of apocalyptic commutes from WSDOT and SDOT.

        I simply want to see the O&D numbers.

      3. You say that, but then you use the use the word ‘skew’. Please explain how taking cars off the road during the most acute traffic situations in any way ‘skews’ the numbers.

      4. It’s not skewing the numbers because Link is serving ballgames just as it was designed to do. There’s also another thing Link is doing. It’s not only taking people to work and to the ballgames, but it’s absorbing spikes in demand. So this may not be regular ridership, but it’s a spike in demand, and Link is serving it better than a bunch of shuttle buses would (or no shuttle buses if Metro doesn’t increase service for the event).

      5. Having sporting events doesn’t skew the numbers, but having a greater (or smaller) number of them than usual certainly does.

        We’re interested in the long term trends- if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be looking at multi-year graphs or using the word skew. If a month has all (or no) home games, that month is not reflective of the long term average, and so it is “skewed”.

    2. Dudette,

      If folks are “hopping on downtown without paying a fare”, THEY DON’T GET COUNTED! Link doesn’t use “door counts”, not does it need to. They have an electronic record of every boarding tallied by ORCA and every one-way fare issued from the ticket machines.

      1. Anandakos, if they didn’t use the APC hardware on the LRVs for their ridership counts, how would they track fare evasion? They could use the rate at which the fare checkers find offenders, but that would likely undercount fare evasioon, since some evaders will successfully avoid fare checking.

      2. Right. If you want to attack link for its fare collection method by theorizing about massive fare evasion, you’re going to have to concede it has far better ridership numbers than these reports suggest. It’s a bit of a catch-22 for the anti-transit propagandist.

      3. aw,

        If you say that they use door counts, I guess I’ll have to concede. How, then, do they do the station by station breakdowns? Do the counters “know” where the train is? The electronic station signs are incorrect fairly regularly and I expect that if the counters are getting location information it would be sourced from the same unit which powers the signs.

      4. Okay, so I don’t know how station locations are determined from the APC data, but here’s a way it could be done without depending upon GPS or some other station location information.

        Suppose that fhe APC data consists of a sequence of records each with a timestamp that record the start and end of train movement, door openings and closings and passenger counts for each door open/close.You could later process that data to assign station ids to each train movement and door event. The result might need need to be massaged in case of closed stations or emergency stops, but those are not common events.

      5. aw,

        I think your algorithm is accurate, but in all honesty, why do it at all, except to compare fares and physical boardings? There is no way except as noted in the next paragraph that a person can be on Link “legally” without having paid a fare which is recorded exactly. Either she or he must tap on and except when traveling to the terminal station and not caring about the fare charged, off OR visit a ticket machine and select an origin station (typically the “default” selection of “here”) and a termination station. Either of those methods represents a legal boarding.

        Now as I recall there are now daily passes available from the machines and there is the possibility for a ticket purchaser to get off the train short of the destination station and then reboard a following train to continue to the destination, so there’s some ambiguity about riders who purchase machine tickets.

        It would be good to see the totals from fare payments as well if in fact they are reporting door counts.

      1. No I don’t. I’ll ask in Jan. for this years numbers.

        What do you think of the station numbers posted?

      2. I think the numbers are great. I just wished the development that has taken place over the last four/five years extended further south towards Rainier Beach Station and Othello Stations. While ridership is up, the area seems to remain in some decay.

  3. Why is growth ACCELERATING?

    Is this because more housing is coming online in the Core, or because of Rezoning in the MLK region?

    Or is this an effect of new Seattle workers and residents choosing to live along MLK because of the transit and lower costs. They wouldn’t have the history to steer them north when looking for a house or apartment???

    It just seems weird to not only have it growing ridership, but growing the growth rate?!?!

    1. Actually, I’m not sure that we’re still “growing the growth rate”. Those are twelve month moving averages in Matt’s second derivative chart. There was a significant downward inflection in September’s raw boarding figures, vis-a-vis September for all previous months. The slope between the August and September data points is more negative for 2014 than for any previous year. The weekend seasonal decline is milder than usual, though, but not the mildest of all time. That was 2012.

    2. I think part of it is that folks new to Seattle don’t have the outdated, negative stereotypes about south Seattle. They see the town’s only train line, crime stats that are better than the bad neighborhoods in Des Moines, Iowa, and affordable housing. And think long-time residents are nuts for living north of the ship canal.

      1. I expect we’re also seeing sorting of long-time residents. People who a) prefer to use transit and b) are finding themselves priced out of their native North Seattle are finding their way to the valley.

    3. That’s what I want to know too. Who are these new riders, why are they taking Link, and what did they do before they took Link?

    4. I also wonder why the line is still growing. I thought Rainier Valley was struggling to attract new housing projects. Where did these extra riders come from?! But I re-read Matt’s post on individual station numbers, and I’m starting to think it’s mostly local residents who are now deciding to ride Link.

      Also amazed how Sounder South was able to get a 23% ridership increase from last Sept…

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