Friday, January 9, 2009

Early Ridership Report from Phoenix

It's really too early to tell what the daily ridership will be, since the line is only a few weeks old, but here are some initial numbers, possibly heightened by the initial novelty, but lowered by the absence of college students at Arizona State.
The agency puts out its first official monthly totals in the middle of next month. But based on estimates, Metro believes its daily ridership from Monday of this week to today ranges from 20,000 to 30,000.


Justin said...

Valley Metro recently made some major service cuts to late night bus service. The last bus is now at 10 pm.

bikerider said...

This ridership number is meaningless without knowing overall ridership for their entire transit system.

In many cases, a new LRT line merely shifts riders from bus to rail (usually because bus lines were terminated with opening of new LRT). For example: overall Santa Clara VTA transit ridership is substantially lower, despite spending billions on new LRT over the past 2 decades.

Matt Fisher said...


Sounds like a regurgitation of Randal O'Toole talking points. The assumption that rail will attract no new riders, just "shift" existing bus riders on to trains is misleading. There are more cases than you think.

Cutbacks in bus service in Phoenix are just bad.

Anonymous said...

VTA is the favorite whipping boy of Randal O'Toole et al. They always manage to neglect to mention that the LRT there opened just in time to watch the dot-com economy implode, putting downward pressure on both tax receipts and ridership.

In many ways, VTA is a failure, but it is the exception to many recent success stories (Minneapolis, Portland, Denver, Charlotte, Salt Lake City) in light rail.

Transit critics should feel free to define success if they want to be taken seriously. How many riders for rail and the overall transit system is a "good" public investment? How long should it take to meet that goal? How do you come by those numbers?

These questions usually separate the serious people from the Cox/O'Toole ideological hacks.

bikerider said...


You need to get with the times. The dot-com crash is no longer the reason du jour for VTA apologists. They've since moved on to 9-11, and now the financial crash. Funny how these world events only seem to affect VTA and not other transit agencies in the region...

In terms of "defining success" for new transit start, that metric is very well defined by the FTA: What is the NET number of new users in the transit system. So the question remains: did the new Phoenix LRT attract riders who previously traveled by car?

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

lol when did Randall start biking? You're right bikerider, it doesn't really matter if it helps change land use patterns that allow people to walk more places. And it doesn't really matter that its more comfortable. Certainly it doesn't matter that there is a reduction operating costs on the corridor. Well i guess we can just say it doesn't matter at all. Let's just stop building rail transit. That would be the only thing that would make you happy no?

bikerider said...

It would seem that when it comes to ideological blinders, there isn't a lot of difference between anti-transit libertarians and mathematically-illiterate rail foamers.

For <30k trips per day, this corridor will most certainly not have lower operating cost relative to bus (let alone lower capital cost). At the very least, this new-start ought to demonstrate net gain in ridership -- if it cannot, then all it has done is to divert 1/2 billion Federal FTA funds that might have funded better projects in communities with proper land-use development patterns already in place.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I guess we'll have to wait and see how it pans out. Until then, keep up the snark, it does you lots of good.