In Brief CTS Ridership up a Fifth November 10, 2007 Waldo Jaquith 6 Comments October CTS ridership was up 18.3% over the same period last year, a result of their experimental fare-free month.
6 thoughts on “CTS Ridership up a Fifth”
I did some rough calculations and that would make about an additional 1000 trips per day. I’d say not insignificant… BUT the real question that these numbers fail to express is whether this increase is from people who would have otherwise taken a car.
The increase could be because of a whole host of reasons that have nothing to do traffic/pollution reduction. For example, people who would have instead car pooled, or walked a short distance, or would not have made the trip at all instead could have chosen to take the bus since it was free.
So if the alternatives that people eschewed by taking the bus were driving themselves, then maybe the additional $300k cost to the city would be worth it. If that’s not the case then the city would be out $300k and not have any effect on the goal they were trying to achieve by incurring the additional yearly cost.
I’d argue further that because the program only ran a month many of us didn’t take advantage of it and that a year round program would see more than an 18% increase in ridership. Once you get used to the schedules and possibilities, it becomes easier to use and choose the system. For me, it’s a research problem every time I want/need to use the bus. I’ve lived without a car in three major cities and simple familiarity with the transit systems is one of the hurdles to using them.
I can ride the bus free anyway, as a UVA employee, and I’ve found it’s faster to walk. I walk two miles home from UVA, and nearly always am walking through my door as the bus passes the bus stop across the street from my house.
Keep in mind the bus system still doesn’t offer service to people who need to commute in to Cville from un-served parts of the county. Those “commuters” are a big part of the traffic congesting the roadways. If you’ve driven in either direction down 250 between Crozet and Cville during rush hour, that’s no small number.
Even if you managed to take most of the cville local residents off the road and put them in a bus- how much road space does that really free up when you’ve got people still needing to commute in to town? Once I’m here in town with my car- why am I going to take a bus? I’m not.
That’s a good point, Scottsvilleresident. The city could start small, with a bus line that runs to and from Mill Creek or beyond. Avon St. is not equipped to handle the high volume of traffic into town from the south. And people riding into town on this bus ought to be able to exit at, say Elliott Ave. and catch a bus directly to UVA, avoiding the need to go all the way downtown and transfer at the new station. Not to be totally fixated on UVA, but it is the biggest employer in the area.
The UVA community started riding fare free the spring of 2007. The 18% increase from October 2006 to October 2007 includes these new riders also. The 11% increase from September 2007 to October 2007 is probably more accurate since they both contain the UVA increase from the spring. It may really be even less, since it usually takes a month for the new students to settle in and start exploring the town, so the actual increase in towny ridership is probably around 6 – 8%. I think the City was hoping for something closer to the Washington state’s 30% and expecting at least a 20% increase. It didn’t come close. These figures will have no influence on whether Council decides to go fare free, anyway, so it doesn’t matter. From the Progress article:
“Charlottesville Transit Service officials believed that going fare-free for a month would entice some residents to leave their cars at home and take the bus for a change. And the October figures prove the case, they say.
“It’s clear that people got the word that service was free and they tried it,” said Bill Watterson, the head of CTS.”
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