Driven by light rail, transit ridership keeps growing

Monthly boardings on the region’s transit system were up approximately 3.6% in the first seven months of 2016 and continue to outpace employment and population growth. Light rail boardings have accounted for over 10% of the overall transit boardings so far this year.

Transit ridership is up 14% from the same six month period in 2011.

Transit ridership is up 14% over the same six month period in 2011.

Almost 3.8 million more boardings took place in the first seven months of 2016 than in 2015, which is a total of 108.8 million boardings through July 2016. Transit ridership is up 14% since July of 2011. There were 13.3 million more boardings in the first seven months of 2016 compared to the first seven months of 2011.

Light rail boardings have increased faster than any other transit mode in the first seven months of 2016. This increase is driven by the opening of the new light rail stations in Capitol Hill and at the University of Washington and has resulted in an additional 3.5 million boardings in the first seven months of 2016 (a 47% increase).

Bus ridership over this time period has remained fairly consistent at approximately 95 million boardings through July 2016, still at all-time record levels for the region.

Commuter rail boardings have also continued to increase with overall boardings increasing by almost 300,000 in the first seven months of 2016 (a 13.4% increase).

Although overall ridership has increased across the region, there are noticeable differences in the change in transit ridership across agencies. Sound Transit ridership has grown the most rapidly over the last three years, driven by growth across all its modes including ST Express bus, Light Rail and Commuter Rail. King County Metro and Community Transit have also experienced noticeable increases in transit ridership over the past three years. Kitsap and Everett transit ridership have remained fairly steady since 2014 with a slight decrease over the first seven months of 2016 whereas Pierce Transit has experienced a noticeable drop in ridership since 2014.

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