Ridership trending close to projections after fare changes
More Metro riders taking advantage of SmarTrip® savings
Metrorail and Metrobus customers have generally continued their travel patterns and more riders are taking advantage of SmarTrip® savings, Metro officials told the Board Finance and Administration Committee today, April 14, during a briefing about the results of FY2011 fare changes.
“Despite a slowly improving economy, Metro is holding its own with respect to ridership,” said Carol Kissal, Metro’s Deputy General Manager of Administration and Chief Financial Officer. “In fact, we expect to see growth return gradually and we’re projecting an increase in rail ridership of about 1% over FY2010 levels in FY2012.”
Five months of trend data showed that overall rail ridership in FY2011 was fairly flat compared to the same period last year. However, Metro experienced an increase in weekend and after midnight rail ridership. And while bus ridership declined, which is more sensitive to local economic conditions such as the region’s unemployment rate, ridership on express and airport bus services remained strong.
The report to the Board indicated that more Metro riders are using SmarTrip® cards, which provide opportunities for savings, instead of paper fare cards on rail and cash on buses. The rate of growth of SmarTrip® card usage increased over the prior year, and was especially strong on bus. The number of riders who converted to SmarTrip® increased from 76 to 79 percent of riders on Metrorail and spiked from 64 to 76 percent of riders on Metrobus.
Another trend reported was that the fare change for peak-of-the-peak travel had little impact on commuting behavior. “The peak-of-the-peak surcharge for riders traveling during morning and evening rush hours resulted in no significant shift of riders to other time periods,” said Kissal.
The areas of opportunity noted in the report included rider feedback that suggests fare tables are difficult to understand and the distance-based fares are complicated. Customers instead expressed a desire for a simpler fare structure.
News release issued at 2:08 pm, April 14, 2011.