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T ridership up in July despite fare increase
By adamg on Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:18pm
Overall MBTA ridership increased 3% in July over last year despite an average 5% fare increase at the start of the month, the T announced today - adding the authority actually ended the year with a $14.2 million surplus, which it immediately put into a fund for maintaining the more outdated parts of the system.
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Overall increase; light rail decrease again
I think it probably indicates the relative inelasticity of demand for the T is higher than expected. Which is fair enough. They should be more concerned about the long term drop in light rail ridership, however, in opposition to the ridership gain on just about every other service. Putting the data into a quick chart makes it clear that ridership recently peaked in 2012 and has progressed on a clear downward trend from that point. Worsening service on the Green Line is probably to blame. Where are those riders going? Are they walking, biking, or driving more? Jogging more? Or just taking fewer trips? Most of the problems of the Green Line are self-imposed by the T: when will they reform?
...which means... basically... every part of the system?
Putting some of that into increased off-peak frequencies on some of the more heavily used bus lines would be a worthwhile investment. When a so-called "key bus route" can't even show up every 20 minutes (which is already too long), and when it does it's overcrowded, that doesn't feel very "key".
The MBTA spent a lot of money
The MBTA spent a lot of money on "key" route route signs which are WORSE than the standard signs and no longer list the stop # for anyone trying to use the text/non-smartphone version of NextBus.
The new bus stop signs are much harder to read than the old ones. Betcha there's an ADA lawsuit coming...and it's probably warranted.
On the other hand, kudos to the MBTA for eliminating redundant bus stops along key routes.
After the last lawsuit, don't you think they T would wise up.. oh wait.. its' the T.
I'd like to THINK they would...
I once asked why the T wouldn
I once asked why the T wouldn't put the next bus text info on bus stops (the phone or text number and bus ID) and the T person, one of the people involved in getting real time info going here, said it was an issue with accessibility, although I told him Chicago does he said it was some law here. Of course, there are signs with the info on the commuter rail, but for some reason they don't want that on bus routes, weird since I bet more people who use the bus don't have smartphones than commuter railers.
Grant money vs "surplus" money...
The Key Bus Routes program was grant money. http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/t_projects/?id=19047
This $14 million is much much more valuable, it can be spent on anything T related. Fortunately, it sounds like they are plowing it into the right place!
Maybe perfectly inelastic
I would argue that the demand for Green Line service (at least) is something approaching perfectly inelastic (and not just the B-line). Anyone who can avoid it already does. Even the once reliable and relatively quick Riverside line has become an unpleasant ride because of myriad issues in the central subway.
My feeling is and has been that all the hubbub about demand destruction from fare increases is overblown, unless and until fares get raised to levels that will allow for the necessary maintenance and improvements to be made (which by the way, should not happen, because it makes sense to subsidize the T from the General Fund as other transport infrastructure is - but this is another discussion that has been had time and again elsewhere on other threads). Regular fare increases, however, are a good idea and make it more palatable for the cowardly legislature to appropriate the funds that it should for the T.
Government Center closing
Government Center closing contributes to the drop in light rail ridership. People no longer use the Green Line to transfer from Blue to Red, people coming from the Blue Line to locations in the Back Bay now take the Orange Line instead of the Green Line, people traveling from locations near Government Center to the Back Bay now take the Orange Line.
The trend extends back
The trend extends back further than March 2014. Light rail ridership was down in 2013 as well. And more fine grained data in the Blue Book indicates lower numbers out on the branches, all gathered prior to Gov't Center shutdown.
I don't doubt that it has had an effect, but there's more than just that.
I rediscovered bicycling this summer, and increasingly biked to work instead of taking the D line. In exchange for having to deal with sweaty clothes and massholes, I no longer have to deal with overpacked trains on game days, bunching up (I recall waiting at Hynes one night and having 10 B and C trains pass by before a single D train showed up), and my commute is now a consistent 40 minutes day and in day instead of the former 30-75 minutes (depending on how long it took for a D train to show up and whether there was a game that particular day).
Yeah thats because many
Yeah thats because many people (including myself) don't have alternative ways to get to work every morning. *awaits smart alec replies* lol
Yeah, wait until the tourist
Yeah, wait until the tourist season is over then we'll see.
2007 vs 2014
The included data show some interesting trends. Heavy Rail has grown appreciably. Bus ridership has grown, but at the overall growth rate. Commuter rail and green line passenger counts are down.
Mode '07 % of total '14 % of total
Commmuter Rail 12% 10%
Green Line 20% 17%
Bus 30% 30%
Red/Orange/Blue 38% 43%
All this despite the Red and Orange lines running creaky, delay-prone, decades-old vehicles. It's possible that real time tracking has helped; lines with real time information (i.e. bus and subway trains) have improved, others (the Commuter Rail has this info but is so infrequent it hardly matters) have not. Maybe that will help the Green Line. As would some signal priority, off-board fare collection, etc.
Interesting numbers, thanks!
In addition to the Govt Center construction effects mentioned above, I think another reason for the rise in heavy rail ridership over light rail has to do with development patterns. During that time span the hot development areas have been in Somerville (no light rail yet), Eastie, Constipation ... uh Innovation District, Southie, Kendall Square. And as those areas heat up, places like Malden, Lower Roxbury into Fort Hill are getting spillover .. All of it w/folks who are probably as likely to take the T as drive to work/school.
Most of these areas are serviced by heavy rail and/or buses.