Slamming Transit Ridership

Aside from the fact the economy has less people going to work than it has in a long long time, it seems TriMet’s ridership stats aren’t getting any love from other angles either.  Gas prices haven’t resumed their highs of last year (which wouldn’t really make sense anyway, about $3.00 a gallon is economically reasonable).  Overall, juts not a whole lot of inner city reasons to travel.

With that bus ridership saw double digit ridership decreases, while MAX saw high single digit decreases.  Overall, it seems the MAX & bus lines continue a running decrease from the highs of last year, but the overall trend year over year is still up.  These slight bounces down in ridership just put ridership closer to the average upwards trending that TriMet has seen over the last decade.  I guess next month we’ll probably see a continued ongoing dip of between 5-15% for buses & MAX, while WES ridership will remain at a low of 1100-1300 for weekday boarding.

July ridership report

8.5 million trips taken in July

For the month of July, there were 8.5 million trips, down 8 percent from July 2008. Ridership is impacted by the recession, double-digit unemployment and lower gas prices that were at records levels last year. All ridership categories were down and figures below are compared to July 2008:

Bus, MAX & WES
  • Weekly trips were 1,907,350, down 8.8 percent
  • Weekday trips were 308,300, down 9.6 percent
  • Weekend trips were 365,700, down 5.4 percent
  • Rush hour trips were 92,130, down 14.3 percent
  • Weekly bus trips were 1,172,100, down 10.3 percent
  • Weekday bus trips were 193,800, down 11.2 percent
  • Weekend bus trips were 203,100, down 5.7 percent
  • Rush hour bus trips were 58,800, down 17.3 percent
  • Weekly MAX trips were 729,600, down 7 percent
  • Weekday MAX trips were 113,400, down 7.6 percent
  • Weekend MAX trips were 162,600, down 5 percent
  • Rush hour trips were 32,200, down 11.5 percent
WES (weekday rush hour service)
  • Weekly WES trips totaled 5,650
  • Weekday trips averaged 1,130 boardings.

A few things I would like to point out.  The MAX during rush hour carries 32,200 people into town.  The equivalent of a 4+ lane Interstate in the space of only 2 lanes (i.e. 2 tracks).  No other Interstate, including the 4 lanes of I-84, the 4 lanes of Hwy 26, the 6 lanes of I-5 south or the 4/6 lanes of I-5 north carry that many people in and out of downtown.  That statistic, 32,200 is without the Green line being open or the Yellow line using the north south mall tracks.  When the other line is running and the Yellow line flows the alternate way we could very well see this number grow dramatically.  I look forward to those numbers.

The buses, also bring in more than any particular major arterial all while not requiring ROW (right of way), nor significantly impacting any traffic flow.  A major bang for the buck.  The entire TriMet system cost less than it would cost to put a new 8+ lane Interstate into town (the minimum it would take to flow this number of trips into and out of the city).  With that, and operations covered at about 57% on average (75% if MAX only) I’m feeling pretty good about my tax dollars being spent via TriMet.  I know however, there is more to do and more improvements to be made.


  1. I saw a huge decrease in ridership on my 67 during the heat wave.
    People don’t want to subject themselves to abuse when they can just drive to max.
    The bus service sucks, and that’s why people abandoned it during the heat wave.
    30% clunkers without air!
    Would you ride it if you had a choice?


  2. Well, I ride and I have multiple choices; drive, bike, walk, etc. I could technically take a "boat" even. 🙂

    But yeah, the heat wave sucked. It was even worse in Seattle I hear, because they have even MORE buses without air conditioning. That should change with their new purchase they just put in though.

    However, even more than the heat, I’m pretty sure some of those decreases are because Oregon/Portland has about 12% unemployment. Also last year there was the high gas prices. Considering those two things I’m surprised the ridership hasn’t dipped even more, because gas is cheap, and people don’t have work to go to.


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