For the second year in a row, AC Transit is experiencing a boom in ridership, with its Transbay lines showing particularly remarkable increases in passengers, including a 37.3% ridership jump on one line.
Systemwide, the agency's average daily ridership has climbed by 8.2% over the past year, from 178, 042 to 192, 553 daily riders. The analysis shows that 78 of 107 bus lines experienced higher passenger levels, including 46 lines that saw a double-digit percentage increase.
Bus service geared toward specific neighborhoods, along with a sluggish economy and expensive gasoline, may be among several factors luring more commuters onto buses for both long and short trips.
"Whether caused by high fuel prices, greater concern for the environment or just a growing appreciation for the convenience of traveling by bus, we are beginning to notice a steady upward trend in the number of people using our services as their primary means of transportation,'' said AC Transit Board President Greg Harper.
The surge in ridership has been especially noticeable on the San Francisco transbay routes where the%age of ridership increased by double digits on 25 of the 27 transbay lines. On the NL-line, which runs from East Oakland to San Francisco, ridership has increased an astounding 37.3%.
Overall, 20.4% more passengers are hopping aboard transbay buses, boosting the number of daily riders to 13,897 in 2013 compared to 11,545 daily riders in 2012.
"Over the past two years, we have replaced a third of our fleet with new buses, expanded our workforce and taken steps to become more efficient," said AC Transit General Manager David Armijo. "Our new ridership levels, to some degree, may be a reflection of those efforts."
Indeed, as part of the A Better Ride campaign, AC Transit has revamped its fleet with 210 buses for more dependability, instituted initiatives to improve service performance, deployed a cleanliness program to keep buses sparkling like new, and created task forces to focus on areas such as on-time performance with teams of street supervisors to ensure adherence to schedules;
reducing the number of accidents for both passengers and employees and decreasing road calls so that buses are not pulled out of service for repairs.
If current trends continue, staff may recommend that the board add more service to accommodate the additional ridership.