HRT departs from daily ridership reporting

A Norfolk NET bus passing by Commerical Park in downtown Norfolk. Photo taken by HARTride 2012 in April, 2013.
An HRT Route 17 bus passing by Commercial Park in downtown Norfolk. Photo taken by HARTride 2012 in April, 2013.

For quite a while now, Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) has been able to post ridership numbers on its bus system, as well as its light rail (LRT) and ferry lines, on a near-daily basis. Numbers would be posted on the agency’s website homepage for each of the three modes, and a calendar underneath its “Public Records” section would archive that month’s daily ridership figures. For myself, and several other transit supporters and bloggers, the daily reporting of ridership numbers was really a positive rarity in the transit industry, since most transit districts only report ridership figures on a monthly basis, and usually only through prepared, but comprehensive reports.

During the month of February though, I’ve noticed HRT posting daily ridership less and less. The homepage started to be filled with “TBA” (To be announced) or “N/A” (not available), and the ridership calendar stopped being updated after February 4th. During the week of February 20th, I noticed that the ridership modules on the homepage had been removed entirely, being replaced with a clickable banner about the recent implementation of early morning Ferry services due in-turn to the implementation of tolls along both tunnels connecting Portsmouth to Norfolk.

Upon noticing these changes, I immediately knew that this could only mean one thing; that HRT has decided to go with comprehensive monthly reports, instead of reporting ridership figures daily. My suspicions were confirmed by HRT on Monday (2/24) when they replied to a post that I wrote on their Facebook page (please see screenshot below).

My post on HRT's Facebook page and their response.
My post on HRT’s Facebook page and their response. Click the image for a larger view.

Basically, what HRT has informed me of, is that by doing a comprehensive monthly report on ridership, customers would be able to gain a more accurate analysis of what the numbers mean, rather than just seeing each day’s ridership numbers on the calendar. When it comes to determining if a transit system is doing well, ridership numbers really matter. However, if most people can’t interpret what the numbers mean, then what’s the point of posting the information in the first place?

As for what you may be seeing in the future from HRT, here’s a link to their December, 2013 ridership report. It definitely provides some detailed insight into their ridership numbers. Many transit agencies prepare reports similar to this.

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