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February 24, 2012

Transit Ridership in St. Louis Area is Up Eight Percent

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The numbers are in, and more people are turning to transit. Metro ridership is up for the first six months of Fiscal Year 2012 (July 2011-December 2011). System-wide, ridership on MetroLink, MetroBus, and Metro Call‑A‑Ride increased eight percent over the same period in the previous year.

Metro recorded 23,371,166 boardings from July 2011 through December 2011. During the same time period in Fiscal Year 2011, Metro recorded 21,610,892 boardings.

MetroBus saw the largest ridership increase among the three transit services provided by Metro. In the first six months of Fiscal Year 2012, MetroBus ridership was up 11.1 percent. In December 2011 alone, MetroBus was up 18.3 percent over the previous December.

MetroLink recorded a 3.6 percent increase during the first six months of Fiscal Year 2012.

Metro Call‑A‑Ride, which provides curb-to-curb service primarily for the elderly and persons with disabilities, recorded a 1.9 percent increase during the first six months of Fiscal Year 2012.

Rising gas prices may also impact Metro ridership numbers in the months ahead. According to the American Public Transportation Association, $5 per gallon gas could spur up to 1.5 billion additional passenger trips on U.S. public transportation systems. If you’ve been thinking about trying some new traveling habits to save on gas money, now might be the right time to park the car at home or a Park-Ride lot, and go by foot, bike and transit to keep more money in your wallet.

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5 thoughts on “Transit Ridership in St. Louis Area is Up Eight Percent”

  1. RTBones says:

    My only wonder is what will happen to metro funding, given that so much transit funding in general is tied to fuel tax.

    From the ‘isn’t it ironic’ department – it is very easy to imagine ridership surging and Metro funding falling because people are driving less due to fuel prices.

    1. Courtney says:

      Right now, the answer is “we don’t know” regarding federal funding. However, Metro does have an unlikely advantage that none of our operational funding is tied to state gas tax. Federal funding, however, provides for new buses, maintenance, repair, new amenities, etc and other things that still very much affect the day-to-day operation of the system.

  2. El says:

    I really wouldn’t rely on money savings as the way to get people to rid transit because as soon as the prices go back down again, people will stop riding. transit does not save time and only causes more problems in the end.

  3. RTBones says:

    The only way cost savings entices people to ride is if costs go up and stay up – El is right there. The biggest problem Metro has is attracting and keeping customers. As long as the system is difficult to use, the vast majority of Metro’s customer base will be people that have to use it, whatever their reason.

    However, I wouldn’t say that riding transit causes more problems in the end. Lots of folks that ride Metrolink would never consider connecting to a bus. No, the problems arise from the way the system is put together and integrated into the community – its not all transit’s fault, and its not all the community’s fault. An awful lot of the area outside Metro’s immediate reach is not pedestrian friendly – which enforces a drive-first/drive-only culture. When you get used to getting in your car to make that half mile jaunt to the grocery, its hard to change that need-to-drive mindset. In the vast majority of the St. Louis area, transit is less than an afterthought. If you ask someone from west/south county about transit in St. Louis, they will mention the train and lament that they can’t take it from where they are at. Buses don’t enter the picture – and while we can debate until the cows come home as to the reason for that, a large part of it is simple: riding the train is relatively easy. Riding the bus is definitely NOT.

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