It’s that time again…time to report on transit ridership for the previous month…well, for this post, it will be April’s numbers. May’s numbers are just beginning to be released internally, but won’t be available for public access until the end of June.
During the month of April, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) continued to show strong bus ridership, with HART seeing a small increase over April, 2013, and PSTA seeing a slight decrease over that same period. Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) meanwhile, saw another month with a significant decrease in ridership, but the decrease was not as bad as the nearly 12% drop in riders that the agency saw in March. HRT still attributes a portion of the ridership decreases to recent changes made in the GoPass 365 program.
The figures “At a Glance”.
Changes in HART and PSTA ridership (comparing April, 2014 to April, 2013) were rather small (under 1%), while HRT saw a decrease of just over 8%. Despite the numbers, all three agencies are continuing to show strong bus ridership. Actually, HRT is in 2nd place on this chart for April, when comparing the three agencies that I profile.
As I’ve mentioned in my March post, a great increase in transit ridership doesn’t last forever. In fact, ridership levels tend to go up and down each month due to a variety of different factors, including (but not limited to) weather and other unforeseen circumstances, service adjustments (schedule adjustments, route additions/changes/eliminations), funding and finances (both personal finances and the finances of the transit agency), and even rider behavior/trends (for example, are new riders using the system?).
The figures in detail.
So here’s a more detailed breakdown of the numbers, all grabbed from ridership reports put out by the transit agencies. Percent change figures for HART and PSTA are copied directly from the ridership report sections of their board meeting packets. For HRT, their percent change figures are located in the bus ridership section. Respective figures are available for Light Rail and Ferry services.
- April, 2014 against April, 2013
- Fixed Route Bus: 1,269,526 vs 1,257,728 (+0.9%).
- Fixed Routes + HART Flex: 1,277,772 vs 1,265,688 (+0.9%).
- HART Flex: 8,246 vs 7,960 (+3.6%).
- The TECOline Streetcar: 26,809 vs 21,162 (+26.7%).
- Top Three Local Routes in Ridership for April, 2014.
- Route 6: 114,981.
- Route 1: 104,800.
- Route 2: 73,994.
- Non-Comparison Figures:
I wanted to specifically highlight HART’s top three highest ridership bus routes because Route 6 continues to see a rise in usage. So much so, that I expect HART to further increase frequency to the route in the years ahead (barring any unforeseen circumstances). The worst local route in the system in terms of ridership is the In-Town Trolley, with only 2,375 boardings in April. Usage of the line continues to decrease.
The increase in Streetcar usage may have been partially attributed to special events, such as the Stanley Cup playoffs and the International Indian Film Academy Awards. I’m hearing that preliminary May figures are showing a 10% decrease in Streetcar ridership against May, 2013.
May will be the final month by which there will be no revenue service ridership comparison figures for MetroRapid. MetroRapid began revenue service on June 10, but there was a 2-week fare-free period to allow customers to get acquainted with the service and allow HART to smooth out any bumps before the start of revenue service.
- Comparison Figures – April, 2014 vs April, 2013:
- Fixed Route Bus: 1,103,278 vs 1,107,011 (-0.3%).
- “Other” Bus (includes East Lake Shuttle): 38,501 vs 43,720 (-11.9%).
- Looper (St. Pete) Trolley: 4,984 vs 6,862 (-27.4%).
- Jolley (Clearwater) Trolley: 59,068 vs 52,876 (+11.7%).
The whopping 27% decrease in Looper Trolley ridership could largely be attributed to the loss of tourist venues such as the St. Pete Pier. The nearly 12% increase in Jolley Trolley ridership may be attributed to the end of the Spring Break season, as well as ridership along the increasingly popular Safety Harbor/Dunedin branch, which began in February, 2014.
- Comparison Figures – March, 2014 vs March, 2013:
- Fixed Route Bus: 1,242,007 vs 1,352,399 (-8.2%).
- The Tide Light Rail: 126,154 vs 155,329 (-18.7%).
- Elizabeth River Ferry: 24,602 vs 26,901 (-8.5%).
Like many younger transit services, the Tide Light Rail ridership has fallen from its inaugural year (2012/2013) highs to more “sustainable” levels. I expect that the current trends will largely remain in place, barring any unforeseen circumstances.