September Ridership Report w/ New Green Line

Before I get rolling with this entry, the rest of the trip entries ARE coming.  I got slammed with some virus and couldn’t motivate to get out of bed let alone write and process photos.  So the rest should be up by end of day tomorrow!  🙂

TriMet posted the first ridership report including the Green Line today.  So far, 12% increase in MAX ridership.  Kind of a slightly skewed statement since there is an entirely NEW line running.  :p

Anyway, here are the stats.

October 12, 2009  TriMet’s Report Page

MAX weekly trips increased nearly 12%

With the opening of the MAX Green Line, weekly ridership on MAX has increased nearly 12 percent compared to September 2008. The Green Line also averaged 17,000 weekday trips.

MAX (Sept. 13-30, 2009 figures compared to Sept. 2008)
  • Weekly MAX trips increased 11.8 percent to 785,000 trips
  • Weekday MAX trips up 9.8 percent 121,200 trips
  • Weekend trips up 19.1 percent up 179,000 trips
  • Rush hour trips increased 6.7 percent to 36,400 trips
MAX Green Line (Sept. 13-30)
  • Weekday trips totaled 17,000
  • Weekend trips totaled 31,900

Overall, there were 8.3 million trips on buses, MAX and WES trains in September 2009, a 4 percent decline over September 2008. Ridership is impacted by service cuts that took effect this month, the continued recession, double-digit unemployment and lower gas prices that were at record levels last year.

Bus (figures for entire month)
  • Weekly bus trips declined 9.5 percent to 1,202,700 trips
  • Weekday bus trips declined 9.4 percent to 200,700 trips
  • Weekend bus trips declined 10 percent to 199,200 trips
  • Rush hour bus trips were down 14.8 percent to 64,700 trips
  • Weekly WES trips totaled 5,625
  • Weekday/rush hour trips averaged 1,125 boardings.

So what do I get out of all this?  A couple of things which I’ll bullet point.

  • WES ridership is still horrible.  Simply put, it won’t be a success until they can carry at minimum 5x as many as they currently carry.  It is in the projections, but I don’t think it is possible without new equipment, and with new equipment they’ll need even MORE riders to offset the initial cost of this system.  Either which way, it seems to be the one major black mark on TriMet’s list of successes.  In addition, one of the service frequencies was down again today and buses had to bridge the gap.  Does TriMet count the bus bridge as bus ridership or WES ridership?
  • Weekends still amaze me in Portland, the ridership is often higher when I’ve always thought the commuters would bump up the ridership during the week.  However, that is untrue.  Ridership is heavier on the weekends here.  I have some theories, but I’ll elaborate later.
  • Light Rail ridership, with only 4 lines (I’m not going with the silly 5 line idea, it is 4 lines, there are 4 COLORS, not 5) will eventually become the core carrying mode of the entire system.  Even with the currently lower ridership of all lines because of obvious economic reasons (people without money don’t have places to go) the light rail system is posed to see significant ridership gains when employment does begin improvements.  Considering the continued population growth in the area, even with the negative overall economic growth, ridership really only has one direction to go and light rail will carry the majority of those riders.
  • The bus system, albeit being overwhelmed during the high gas price days of 08’ are finally at bearable levels.  The fact is though, when things start to boom again, the bus part of the TriMet System isn’t prepared to handle the growth.  Already, at these almost comfortable ridership levels many of the lines can handle more than a 5-10% ridership growth unlike the light rail which easily could handle a 30-40% growth in weekday ridership, and probably the same in weekend ridership.  Simply put, TriMet’s Bus System needs bulked up appropriately with more options and scalability at key transfer, connection, and feeder line points.


  1. I’m not 100% sure, I am just using the standard they’ve set for weekdays, listing the average, and going with that. If that is supposed to be a sum of the weekend and not a daily boarding, then they need to specify that or show the data in a different way. Otherwise, this is a very misleading report.


  2. I agree the report is misleading. For one, they’re showing numbers for part of the month for MAX, while showing numbers for the entire month for bus service and WES. IMO, it would’ve been good to see numbers before MAX Green opened for passengers, to see if riders truly moved over from one mode to the other (or, if most of the MAX ridership is "new" riders, with former bus riders leaving the system due to services being cut).

    I’m also enjoying the comparisons/information about Valley Metro, before this the only thing I knew about Phoenix (not much) was from listening online to the now-defunct Energy 92-7/101-1 (too much information?).

    I’m visiting Spokane early next week, it’ll be interesting to compare Spokane Transit with TriMet and C-TRAN.


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