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Report: Ridership on three free bus lines in Boston has more than doubled
By adamg on Tue, 03/07/2023 - 1:22pm
GBH takes a look at ridership figures from the 23, 28 and 29 lines, which are now free under a two-year Boston pilot that started in March - several months after the city first started paying the T for fares on the 28.
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Where did the increased
Where did the increased ridership come from? Especially compared to similar routes that aren't free?
Are more people going more places? Or did they shift from walking, driving, or other bus routes?
Fare collection shouldn't be slow. It also shouldn't cost a billion dollars and take 7 years and counting to implement.
This is the way. Not spending
This is the way. Not spending a billion dollars on a fancy pants fare system. It's in everybody's best interest if more people take public transit, whether you are one of the people doing so or not.
This data is totally bogus
This data claiming a "doubling" of rides is completely bogus and I can't believe GBH is publishing this glorified press release as news. It compares ridership from Feb. 2021 with Feb. 2023 and then claims ridership doubled, implying this free fare pilot program is some kind of massive success.
If only there was something else going on in Feb. 2021 that kept the vast majority of us home all of the time. Nope, I can't quite think of it, then again people say I could be suffering from long covid...
Only near the bottom of the article do they admit "ridership on the three free bus routes exceeds what it was before pandemic restrictions began by about 16 percent. This bucks the system-wide trend on the MBTA, where ridership across all bus lines is still about 21 percent lower than it was in mid-February of 2020." Even then, however, they ignore that Boston put in dedicated bus lanes for much of these three routes, which was guaranteed to increase ridership.
If they ran the numbers for February 2022 versus February 2023, we'd get a clearer picture.
There are some other numbers that would need to be looked at as well.
The same article also shows that these lines are some of the only MBTA services with more riders than before the pandemic.
you’ve got some claim chowder here yourself
huh? the version i read has the excerpt you quoted situated in the third paragraph directly following the doubling in ridership claim.
citation needed? i am not a transportation expert, but it seems bus lanes would promote on time buses. of course, on time buses theoretically lead to increased ridership but i hardly see that being a more enticing incentive than say, not having to pay to ride.
Yes. This commenter nailed it
Yes. This commenter nailed it. I emailed the rep from Livable Streets to ask why she didn't use like comparisons and chose to jump around with her data. Waiting for the response. WGBH should be embarrassed by their host who missed the game being played.
Someone on Twitter pointed
Someone on Twitter pointed out that the "before" numbers they chose are all from school-vacation weeks, when a lot fewer BPS students were on the buses.
Now do the whole thing
Now do the whole thing. Free the T.
Sure, please provide your address
So we know where to send the bill.
I've got a better idea
What if we all chipped in a little bit to help fund these kinds of services? That way, we could fund things that benefit us all with minimal impact on each individual! We could even get together once every year to vote on some representatives to help decide how the money can be spent, so if, say, the citizens of Boston thought that "freeing the T" was a good idea, they could vote for a mayor who wanted to do what she could to push for that idea.
What if we all chipped in a
oh you mean like how we did before "forward funding"?
I’d be all for this
They used to do it when the mbta had a 26 and out rule with full pension because why not? Someone else will pick up the tab.
However, the little bit you’re suggesting would actually be $500 per resident of Boston a year just to cover fare revenue lost. This is assuming 700k residents as of 2020, which is actually probably lower now, and $312M in fare revenue per year.
I’m ok with that. Are you?
Okay but costs of maintaining
Okay but costs of maintaining and collecting cash fares off the bus? Cost of idling busses while people file on dutifully one by one and tap in? Or, god forbid, get held up while somebody's smoothing out dollar bills to feed into the reader? Costs of crazy people getting aggressive because they've been asked to pay a fare and made it everyone else's problem? Costs for BPS to provide their students with bus passes, which are currently paid by tax payers?
It's not a 1:1 in terms of looking at reported revenue and then summoning the tax dollars to fill that hole. A widespread abolition of BUS fare - not talking about the T, the BUSSES, which are the lowest revenue in the system as-is - has built in savings that help offset that loss.
I ride the 23 bus Ashmont to Ruggles. Usually takes almost an hour. The homeless and crazies threatening people minding their own business is astounding. It is not worth paying nothing to be subjected to that insanity. Public transport is Boston is shameful.