Metro ridership update: systemwide up over a year ago and new record month for Gold Line but bus numbers remain flat

Update, 1:45 p.m. — three Metro Rail lines had record numbers (Gold, Blue and Red/Purple) and more info about how rail ridership is calculated have been added to the below post. 


Metro has released its ridership statistics for July. Bottom line: systemwide ridership is up  over a year ago, bus ridership is slightly less than it was in July 2010 and rail ridership is up 8.9 percent, with increases on all four lines.

And for the first time since it opened in 2003, the Gold Line averaged over 40,000 average weekday riders (42,900 to be exact) this past July. That’s about double the average weekday ridership the Gold Line had in July 2009, before the Eastside Gold Line opened and added to the line’s ridership. In addition, over the past couple of months, the Gold Line has been running more frequent and longer trains during the morning and afternoon rush hours. The Red/Purple Line subway and Blue Line also set monthly records and the Green Line had its second-best month.

It’s important to note, however, that buses have automatic counters that tally ridership. Metro Rail does not have those counters and monthly ridership is calculated based on rolling averages of counts done in the past month and and over six months prior. So the July numbers likely reflect earlier trends during the year — such as the spike in gas prices this spring.

On the bus side, it’s interesting that ridership is about the same as a year ago, despite two rounds of service changes in the past 12 months, including some service cuts. As we’ve said in the past, high local unemployment could also be a factor: Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate was 12 percent in June and the number of people without jobs had increased from the previous month. The U.S. unemployment rate for June was 9.2 percent.

Here’s a look at rail, bus and systemwide ridership over the past two years:

Rail Systemwide Ridership Estimates

  July 2011 July 2010 July 2009
Average Weekday Boardings 349,432 306,180 305,988
Average Saturday Boardings 204,340 201,586 191,879
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 169,499 170,480 163,424
Total Calendar Month Boardings 9,027,329 8,290,110 8,430,487

Bus – Systemwide

  July 2011 July 2010 July 2009
Average Weekday Boardings 1,093,577 1,100,260 1,136,753
Average Saturday Boardings 755,267 747,375 761,906
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 554,388 555,422 560,696
Total Calendar Month Boardings 28,974,201 29,619,433 31,234,512

Systemwide Ridership Estimates

  July 2011 July 2010 July 2009
Average Weekday Boardings 1,443,009 1,406,440 1,442,741
Average Saturday Boardings 959,607 948,961 953,785
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 723,887 725,902 724,120
Total Calendar Month Boardings 38,001,530 37,909,543 39,664,999


Charts showing ridership on the Orange Line, Red Line, Blue Line, Green Line and Gold Line are posted after the jump.





































45 thoughts on “Metro ridership update: systemwide up over a year ago and new record month for Gold Line but bus numbers remain flat

  1. I’m a student from Singapore. Singapore started using distance fares on buses last year so it’s not impossible.

    They hired consultants from Japan who’ve been using distance fares on buses since the 1970s to help bring this idea to reality.

    In all, there’s nothing confusing about it. Just as everyone said, all you do is tap-in when you board and tap-out when you get off. No more looking for exact change, the card deducts the fare automatically based on distance. It’s not hard, it’s really easy.

    If Singapore can do it, there’s no reason why Los Angeles can’t. If they can’t conceptualize, they just need to ask Japan on how they did it. Videos on how distance fares works in Japan and Singapore is up on youtube. No need to travel to Japan or Singapore. Isn’t technology wonderful?

    Distance fares on buses reduced Singaporeans’ bus fares by 2.5%, ridership has increased and made the system fairer as we now get to pay less for shorter rides.

    Los Angeles needs to stop looking at failing examples within the US and start looking how other countries have been running it. This includes learning about their fare system which is the main revenue stream of public transit.

    You can’t build a good public transit without rationalizing the fare system.

  2. I always wonder if buses and trains in LA ever make any money by making everyone pay $1.50.

    I understand now it doesn’t and that it’s only to make more taxes. I thought so because it’s so much different from what I am used to in Japan.

    In Japan, I only pay 5% sales tax but we have good train system because everyone pays on how far they ride the train and bus.

    But here, I pay near 10% sales tax just so bus and train cost $1.50 and the system is really bad. I don’t think LA’s idea is working.

    LA need to learn from Japan; people pay fair price because travel distance is different for everybody, sales tax keeps low, and have better system.

    It is not fair for everyone to pay the same price when travelling distance is different from person to person. I don’t want to pay for more sales tax just because they don’t want to do work when answer is already there.

    Start with ten cents but no more than $1.50 per travel distance is a good idea. This should be tested out immediately. Any small changes can be made later.

  3. Doesn’t anyone else remember when Metro’s 11th-hour-thwarted plan to implement zone fares on the Blue Line in the ’90s? *That* sure went over well…

  4. @DSM

    Because Metro has no marketing skills. Back then they tried to implement that, they used the “rail doesn’t get stuck in traffic like buses so people have to pay premium prices for that service” tactic. Didn’t work because people couldn’t conceptualize it. Gas was still cheap.

    Times are different today. But Metro could use better marketing skills to sell it right this time and you’d get approval from the people. Instead of saying “pay more for longer rides,” you sell it as “pay less for shorter rides.” In all it means the same thing: introduction of distance based fares, but it sounds more different if you mention “pay less for shorter rides” (sounds like people get a deal) than “pay more for longer rides” (sounds like people get ripped off).

    And by selling it as “$0.10 per mile to $1.50 cap,” you solve the issue of anyone paying more than current prices. If anything, most people will end up paying less and at max no one will be charge more than $1.50 as it is now. That’s how you get approval from riders, you sell the idea of distance based fares to Angelinos, and they become used to the idea of paying per distance as in other places.

    After everyone have gotten used to it, all Metro has to do is tweak it later.

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