More service brings more riders: adding up TriMet’s ridership stats

Riders often tell us what they want their transit service to look like: more frequent buses, more trains, better connections and early morning and late-night trips. More and better service, clearly, are big motivators to getting you on board.

Since fall 2013, we’ve been making big strides toward getting service hours back to the high levels that predate the Great Recession—and now we’re almost there.

When we looked at our winter quarter ridership numbers (December–February) compared to the same period the previous year, we got some insight into just how these service improvements affect riders’ habits. So we were pretty happy to see a 2.8% increase in overall ridership this last quarter over the year before. It’s a small percentage that tells a big story, considering three very different factors that go into it:

Rides on buses were up 4% overall, and up 5.4% on our Frequent Service lines.

Bus Weekly Boarding Rides

Bus ridership has been growing pretty consistently over the last year since we started adding back service that was cut during the recession. In September 2013, we began making improvements to return Frequent Service to every 15 minutes or better.  (Our 12 Frequent Service bus lines are our most popular lines, providing more than half of all bus trips.) We’re making good progress toward delivering the improved bus service that riders want and deserve. 

MAX Light Rail ridership was up slightly, increasing 1% over the previous year.

MAX Weekly Boarding Rides

WES Commuter Rail ridership was down 10.7% (about 170 rides a day).

WES Weekly Boarding Rides

Why the drop? We’re not sure, exactly, but our manager of service performance and analysis suggested low gas prices as a likely factor. As gas prices fall, some riders may be going back to their cars for some trips.

Are you a WES rider or Highway 217 commuter? We’d like to hear what you think: Let us know at trimet.org/feedback.

More service, more riders

The demand for transit is strong in the Portland area, and we’re excited to be in a position to grow our system again. As we add more service on the street, more people are noticing (and taking advantage of it!).

Where do we go from here? We’re looking ahead and planning future improvements, particularly for bus service. We’ve been asking riders in different parts of town what improvements they’d like to see as resources become available. Learn more and share your vision for the future of transit in your community »

Want to dig in to the data? Check out our complete performance dashboard and sign up to get updates by email »

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Specialist. I'm here to help tell our story, and to share the interesting things I find along the way. When I'm not here, you'll find me out riding my bike and taking pictures.

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