T sets ridership record in October, but ridership still down year to date

The MBTA said today we took 36.23 million trips on the system in October - the highest monthly number since the system was founded in 1964 out of the old MTA, and 3% higher than the World Series-less October, 2012.

Average daily ridership for October increased by 4.3% over the same month last year, and totaled 1.382 million passenger trips per weekday. As with the month overall, this is the highest weekday ridership recorded since the MBTA was created in 1964. “This is the closest we’ve ever come to an average daily ridership of 1.4 million passenger trips,” said General Manager [Beverly] Scott. “Ridership on almost all modes increased, with particularly big jumps on the subway and buses.” In October, the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines carried an average of 35,500 more riders a day than the previous October. Buses provided a daily average of 22,100 more passenger trips than October 2012.

However, total T ridership is down 2.2% from the same period last year, due to overall decreases in ridership on commuter rail (CommonWealth ponders this) and the Green Line.



    Free tagging: 

    MBTA ridership figures (.xls)148 KB


    All commuter rail and green line

    The green line is highly unreliable.

    The Commuter Rail pass costs were jacked so high that people started carpooling instead. Even with the cost of parking going up steeply, people in my office coordinate their rides in.

    How hard is that to figure out? People are taking alternate systems - cars, buses, biking.

    The true way to capture the big picture: look at traffic, parking, bike use (hubway and else), and see what's increased and decreased and where.


    I'll take a 66 bus to the red

    I'll take a 66 bus to the red line or walk to the red line if it is nice out, and still make better time than taking the green line to the red line. I suspect I am not the only one working around it as much as possible.



    How would the MBTA be able to capture the fact that you took both the Red Line and Green Line? This is why they categorize their reports by light/heavy rail. The only way they can record ridership is through fair collection. You get on the green (scan you card) and get off and walk out of the station or transfer onto another rail, how the hell do they know. You check in, but never check out.



    These monthly numbers may come from automated fare collection, but when making real estimates for service planning, they typically deploy surveyors to actually count people, or at least get a reasonable sample to work with statistically. That's how they get info on downtown connections, for instance, as shown in the Blue Book. AFC is only supposed to be a starting point, not a reliable number.


    Replace the 60+ year old

    Replace the 60+ year old signal/switch system/turn on signal priority (Huntington Ave and Beacon street are already wired for it) and most of the Green Line delay and capacity issues disappear.


    (Total) Cost is a factor,

    however, I think that reliability and frequency are the most important factors for all public transit and particularly commuter rail.

    Examples of these factors at work:

    1) friends from Brockton drive downtown everyday (and battle that ridiculous traffic on 24) because the *total* cost of the commuter rail (including parking at the commuter rail lot) is very competitive with a downtown parking spot. If they drive, they do not have to worry about the frequency or reliability of the commuter rail, so on balance, driving is a better option for them.

    2) many, if not most, people in the suburbs have children - reliability becomes key when kids are in the mix. Anything less than a ~ 95% on-time factor (and *exactly* on time, not within 5 or 15 minutes - remember, these daycare places charge by the minute for late pickups) is going to render the Commuter Rail a non-viable option for many with children.

    In the urban core, you at least have (some) options if when the T fails - that's not really the case for those in the suburbs.

    As for the notion that ridership is down because people are moving back into town, I will need to see hard numbers to believe this. It sounds plausible, but I just don't think that the migration into the city has been substantial enough for it to show up in the Commuter Rail numbers.


    Commuter Rail not that down

    It was up on weekdays, though not as much as the rest of the system. It really took a bath on the weekends.

    Not that there is any flaw to your logic. Raise the cost of the ride and parking and carpooling has value. Of course, riding on one's own would still be not cost effective.

    Weird thing is, at one point we were looking at daycare in Hyde Park (we live in the best neighborhood in the city). To get there from downtown the commuter rail would have been the quickest option, though the added cost of the pass had to factors. Didn't go that way. Of course, the #32 bus is a backup.

    T expansions a disappointment

    The CommonWealth article notes how new T stops have less than projected ridership and expresses a similar concern for the Green Line Extension (GLX), which faces the double whammy of decreased Green Line ridership. This is completely valid as the GLX doesn't really expand service area, just adds yet another choice in areas with bus, car, carpool, taxi, motorcycle, and bicycle modes already in place. Higher income populations in most cities are more resistant to bus use than rail. Boston is much more egalitarian with higher income people riding buses. Given that Somerville has a large lower income population, promises of overall greater ridership with the $1.5B GLX only adding to existing bus service, are complete fiction and exaggeration. As with money deferred from commuter rail engine replacement for handicapped accessibility, diverting money from maintenance to the GLX will hurt reliability and overall ridership. For all wanting more money added to the T budget, ask your boss/customers today for a raise and donate that to the T. See if that works as easily as better managing money.

    The previous expansions have

    The previous expansions have been commuter rail which has been having issues due to non competitive pricing and parking issues. Actual subway service will see different numbers compared to the CR because of the vast differences in frequency of service and pricing.


    In addition

    Money for the GLX does not detract from maintenance budgets. They are entirely different pools.

    The GLX runs through densely populated neighborhoods which are already primed for direct subway service through the use of indirect bus+transfers. The entire bus network in Somerville will be revisited after the GLX opens.

    Furthermore, the GLX benefits every single Green Line rider, not just the new riders. The GL will finally be balanced and will have major maintenance yards on both sides of Park Street, increasing reliability of service. The extended lines will untangle some of the scheduling snafus which currently annoy riders ("headway adjustments") and will bring in new, modern cars to add service. North Station will see a +50% boost in GL trains over today's schedule. New Lechmere station will see a doubling of service.

    As the other guy said, the GLX is long overdue.


    The real benefits from the

    The real benefits from the GLX would only be realized if the areas near stations were up-zoned for apartment buildings.

    Yes, that would mean people living nearby would have a harder time finding parking on the street. That's what happens when a car-oriented neighborhood becomes transit-oriented.

    Has this happened yet?

    Have neighborhoods near stations added around 1985 been upzoned? How many big, affordable buildings have been added in Porter or Davis Squares in the last 25 years? How would nearby Somerville along the proposed GLX be any different?

    If you want to see affordable housing, look near military bases. In Ayer, around Devens is lots of cheap housing and not so many high density apartment buildings that cost more than people can afford.

    New T Stops

    Are we comparing the 1980s to now? Because ridership is up on both the Orange (Southwest Corridor, 1987) and Red (Alewife, 1984/5, and Braintree 1980/1) lines.



    They must have forgot to add the thousands of extra passengers who get on at the new commuter rail stops on the Fairmont line that cost taxpayers millions of dollars to build