All ST service was higher in March of 2017 than last year. With University Link opening in March of 16 this is the first month with partial U-Link numbers, which showed in Link’s Year over Year growth finally dropping down from the 80s and 90s.

Average daily ridership for Link in March was:

  • Weekday: 67,174 (+54.4%)
  • Saturday: 43,824 (+11.5%)
  • Sunday: 34,688 (+30.0%)

Other weekday modal ridership stats:

  • Sounder: 17,172 (3.8%)
  • Tacoma Link: 3,279 (3.5%)
  • ST Express: 64,080 (2.6%)
  • Sound Transit Systemwide, +20.8% Weekday, +19.7% Total Boardings

My charts after the break.

19 Replies to “March 2017 Sound Transit Ridership”

  1. This is all great news. No, great and wonderful news.

    However, [ot], how much of this is bus routes truncating to feed the light rail spine? I’d like a response to that please.

    1. Joe, If you compare bus ridership stats, I’m guessing you’ll find that boardings haven’t dipped much if at all by truncation. By truncating buses, they can serve local neighborhoods more efficiently and frequently. We reduce congestion of buses competing with cars and trucks in our downtown core and in the DSTT. There should be no expectation of a one seat ride from your house to downtown. Overall for most people connecting to a train will be a more consistent and better experience than on a bus. This will be our future. As more stations get built, fewer buses will operate to/from downtown. Get used to it.

      1. One-seat rides are critical to making it practical to live car-free. Since losing my one-seat ride to Capitol Hill and Downtown I can’t stay out late anymore. That transfer from light rail to a frequent bus sounds great until you’re waiting for 25 minutes in the cold somewhere at 11:30pm because “frequent” doesn’t extend past certain hours.

      2. Truncating buses and forcing transfers may (or may not be more efficient), but the point stands. Breaking a one-seat-ride into a two-seat ride doubles the number of boardings which means the boardings are an imperfect measure of demand/utilization. We may have to wait for the ACS commute mode share numbers or some other rider survey. Having said that, it’s hard to believe that all of the 20K net increase came from transfers from existing busses.

      3. A connection-based network can serve twice as many trip pairs twice as frequently compared to a network based on one-seat rides. So while the one-seat ride may serve you, somebody else has no bus, a less frequent bus, or no bus going crosstown. Having said that, an ideal network will either be a high-frequency grid so there are no 25-minute waits, or it will try to strike a balance between connections and one-seat rides.

        Chicago has a frequent grid, with routes a half-mile apart coming every 5-15 minutes daytime and 15-20 minutes evening, and 30-minute night owls a mile apart. So anywhere to anywhere is one bus north and one bus west. Additionally the el lines form a radial network with one-seat rides to downtown.

        Metro historically was based on one-seat rides but it’s moving toward more of a balance. Our topography hinders a complete grid, nd the islands of urban villages surrounded by a sea of low-density houses argue for connecting the villages even if they’re not on a straight line (because e.g., a route straight up 15th NE missses Roosevelt, Northgate, and the Crest Cinema where people are going, to take them to houses where they’re not going). So Metro does things like through routes and combined markets. For instance, the 62 and 106 primarily serve smaller markets (downtown to Fremont, Fremont to Greenlake, Greenlake to Sand Point, Renton to Rainier Valley, Rainier Valley to downtown), but secondarily you can ride them all the way from 65th to downtown or Renton to downtown if you really want to. Metro’s frequency drops off after 10pm, but that’s mainly because it has a limited budget and lots of suburban miles. It also has L-shaped routes, which are like two grid routes connected, and that gives somewhat more one-seat rides.

      4. The solution is to run more frequent service, later into the night, every day of the week, like every other world transit city. you wouldn’t be left waiting long if buses were frequent for as long as Link was running.

      5. If you wanted a one-seat ride in pre-Link Seattle, you had to live along a bus line that ran reliably, frequently, all day, and late enough into the evening, and that bus had to go where you needed to go.
        This meant thousands upon thousands of homes did not have this service, and if you wanted it, you had to choose your living location very carefully, and potentially move if you changed jobs.
        We need quality transit service for everyone, not just some people who have decent service, and the rest of the people with crappy service.

      6. “the 62 and 106 primarily serve smaller markets”

        By “smaller” I mean shorter distance (between places in the middle), not lower population.

      7. I bought a house on a frequent route to downtown because I don’t drive. Then the u-district light rail bus restructure mostly eliminated that route. It’s a good thing I’m physically capable and not afraid of walking around at night so I can still get around. And thank goodness for Uber and Lyft.

      8. That was the perrenial problem when Metro didn’t have a long-range plan: you didn’t know where to live that would have frequent buses in your direction in 5-10 years, or whether Metro would yank your service in the middle of your annual lease. Now at least we have some indication of which neighborhoods will most likely be connected and where the transfers will be.

  2. U-Link had a short phase-in period from opening day until May 1st, reaching average weekday boardings of 65,000. Since then it has varied according to (reduced) seasonal variation and (perhaps) a slow increasing ridership trend.

    Beginning with the May ridership data, there will be true year-over-year comparables for Link with U-Link. Based on previous year’s March-to-May trend, Link could be at 70,000 by May.

    1. Don’t forget Angle Lake. That opened in Sept of last year and is producing 5ish percent of total Link system wide ridership. Meaning we won’t get a true year-over-year comparison of Link ridership until sometime after Sept of this year.

      1. True, I had forgotten about Angle Lake.

        If Angle Lake has 3,000 boardings, and Link in May 2016 had 65,000 boardings, then May 2017 should be 68,000 boardings without any growth in the past year. So if 10% year-over-year growth has continued, then May 2017 boardings could be 75,000.

      2. @Chad,

        I do the math a bit different, but with so many things in flux it is hard to know anything exactly anyhow.

        The way I view it every boarding at a given station generates on average another boarding elsewhere in the system on a return trip. So if there are 2000 boardings at Angle Lake that should generate 4000 system wide boardings in total.

        But hey, it will all work out in the end. We should have stable data come this fall, and after that we should have a few years of a stable configuration. But then big additions with NG Link, East Link and Lynwood Link. Somewhere in all that we will leave Portland in the dust per total ridership. Then there is no looking back.

  3. Look at the “bus passengers lost to trains” business this way. You’ve got a ten mile walk to work. A rapid transit line straight to your destination opens a station a block from your house.

    Your pedometer could start asking you questions about drastic falloff in steps. But doubt the city would get too many complaints that the trains are just draining passengers from the sidewalk. Which should probably go to Fare Inspection.

    But Metro Transit still maintains its rolling trolleybus museum with long leisurely rides on the 49 and the 70. Also no reason the 43 can’t be re-started with the old Brill and the Pullman in the Atlantic yard.

    Though friend of mine knows how to work those old cam controllers so they really violate slowness standards mistakenly thought to be historic. Legend has it that the fleet used to hit 50 mph on Elliott and across the Aurora Bridge.

    And stole so many passengers from the streetcars they all had to be junked.


  4. Hi Matthew and Team,
    Is the data charted here available in raw form to the public? I’m curious about diving into the data to find other insights.


Comments are closed.