May was another impressive month for Sound Transit ridership, with the latest ridership report showing weekday Link ridership at 65,000 daily boardings, up 83% over May 2015 (36k), and up even 8% over April 2016 (60k). Link set records for total boardings, at 1.8m, and will likely continue to set records through October, when seasonal patterns usually bring a slight drop-off.
Link now has 12% more monthly boardings (1.8m) than all ST Express routes combined (1.6m). ST Express managed to hang on for another month in terms of average weekday boardings, besting Link by 1%, with 66k compared to Link’s 65k
Sounder continued its impressive growth, up 17% over May 2015 with 16,500 daily boardings. With event service included, Sounder ridership was up 22% over May 2015.
Tacoma Link continued its slow decline, losing 5% of total boardings compared to last May (from 86k to 81k), and down 4% in weekday boardings (from 3,600 to 3,400).
June may have a hard time topping these growth records, as UW ended its spring quarter on June 19. Link’s seasonal summer ridership surge may counteract UW’s summer break to keep ridership growing at this record pace, but we’ll have to see.
Since the opening of UW Station and Capitol Hill Station, Link has gotten several micro improvements. First, the schedules were reset to show a more accurate 6 minutes from Westlake-UW Station and 44 minutes SeaTac Airport Station-UW Station. Second, Sound Transit recently announced that all six peak-only trains would be three cars. Third, Sound Transit has recently made 3-car trains the weekend norm. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the all-day 3-car train treatment on other days, such as the entire Labor Day/Bumbershoot weekend. But the real test will come on Friday, September 30, with a UW-Stanford football game overlapping with the Mariners’ third-to-last game of the season.
Will September 30 be Link’s first 100,000 rider day, and can the agency handle it with its limited fleet? File under #goodproblems.