Sound Transit released its September ridership numbers yesterday, and it was another impressive month for Link and Sounder. Average weekday Link boardings held steady at 68,358 (+76% YOY), average Saturday boardings were 51,799 (+100%, thanks Huskies!), and average Sunday boardings were 39,919 (+116%, thanks Seahawks!).
As usual, weekday Link ridership dropped slightly from August to September, but September still bested July for Link’s second-best month to date. The total drop was a mere 767 weekday riders, or about 1.1%. Last year the August-September drop was 888 (and against a much smaller baseline), or 2.2%. The U-Link extension is flattening Link’s traditional seasonal curve, with summer-like numbers extending into autumn. With Angle Lake’s first numbers expected next month, October could be another summer-like month.
As ticket-buying tourists were replaced with UPass riding students, Link’s farebox recovery fell from 60% to 37%. Sound Transit also says the “timing of outbound payments” affected the large drop as well.
Sounder ridership was up another 6% YOY, with a record-setting 16,261 weekday boardings. As we predicted back in August, the new mid-day service is performing better southbound, with 115 weekday riders on the 10:18am northbound train, and 300 riders on the 2:32pm southbound train. With 2-car trains and 150 seats per car, that means the northbound midday train is 38% full, while on the southbound train every seat is taken. Sound Transit has appropriately right-sized the capacity of the trip so far.
ST Express was up 5.1%, and for the first time in months Tacoma Link ridership didn’t fall, instead edging up by 0.2%. Sometime in October, Link likely exceeded total ST Express boardings for the year, despite having nearly 3 months without ULink.