I haven’t done a ridership & statistics brain exercise in a long time. However Sound Transit sent out their ridership report recently and I had to check it out. I brought it up and immediately thought about a few people always harping on TriMet in Portland compared to Metro & Sound here in the Seattle area. TriMet does an amazing job, even though some of the locals still gripe to no end. Sure TriMet could be better, but they really ought to think before they hold up others that aren’t doing so well in comparison.
Let’s take a look at a few really basic examples.
Sound Transit + Metro had the following weekday ridership on various modes.
- All Bus Routes: 186,900 Cost Per Ride: 2.85
- MAX (4 routes): 123,680 Cost Per Ride: 1.73
- Commuter Rail: 1,350 Cost Per Ride: 15.76
King County Metro
All Bus Routes: 365,000 (Data Source: http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Metro_Transit_(King_County))
All Bus Routes: 306,074 (http://www.kingcounty.gov/exec/strategy/PerformMgmt/BenchmarkProgram/Transportation/TR42_TransitRidership/TransitRidershipTable.aspx)
Note: King County Metro does such a poor job of keeping track of ridership with public access that I gave up even trying to figure out the cost per rider. I’m honestly appalled by the poor statistics that are publicly available. One can’t tell what the agency is doing, it really bothers me and can understand why the agency is such a blind spot of apathy for many in the Seattle Metropolitan area. This is very unfortunate. If anyone knows where or how to get this information from the agency, I’d love to know what the official statistics are.
Sound Transit (http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/newsroom/Ridership_Q3_2010.pdf)
All Bus Routes: 45,305 Cost Per Ride: 7.47
Link (1 route): 23,762 Cost Per Ride: 6.53
Commuter Rail: 8,665 Cost Per Ride: 14.41
Streetcar (Tacoma Link): 2,907 Cost Per Ride: 3.83
Sound Transit does a vastly superior job with their web presence, communications, and overall organization of the agency. Metro should be held to these standards and made responsible for providing at LEAST Sound Transit level public data and site standards.
So to those that rant on and on about how horrible TriMet is and how wonderful Metro + Sound Transit is, check your premise. You’re way off base. TriMet costs less to the taxpayer and carries more people for that money. On a market share basis TriMet also carries almost 2x as many people in their service area as does Metro + Sound Transit put together. Of course Sound + Metro have a vastly harder job being that Seattle has allowed a complete desecration and sprawl effect to take place. Without a clear UGB and the respective funds not being blown to support suburban sprawl the transit agency has almost no hope of gaining a significant share of ridership like Portland (OR), or even more seriously Vancouver (BC) or other such city.
Either way, all the agencies shown are doing a great job at a core level, but there is vastly more that should and could be done. I merely write this to state that there is an imbalance between what each agency accomplishes on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. In the near future I’ll add Vancouver to this list of stats to show how much work truly needs to be done for a world class transit system and to up the scale, class, and efficiency in both Seattle and Portland.
In addition to the excellent job TriMet does coming forward with these numbers and information in general, they’ve now got a dashboard to show the ongoing trends for ridership!! Check out http://www.trimet.org/about/dashboard.htm.
Here’s some of the charts: