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Rider's Almanac Blog


Ridership growing as more people return to office, cost of driving rises

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, June 17, 2022 1:14:00 PM

Ridership has steadily risen since falling at the end of last year amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.  

In May, average weekday ridership reached nearly 120,000, approaching the previous COVID-era highwater mark of 124,000 average weekday rides from October 2021. Last fall, regular fares were temporarily reduced to $1.    

Ridership through the end of May has grown across all modes compared to the same time last year.   

The largest percentage increase is in express bus ridership, which has nearly doubled since last year, to an average of 4,000 weekday rides. (Around 5,000 express bus rides are taken mid-week, with lower totals on Monday and Friday.)    

“What we’re really seeing is one of many pieces of evidence that there is a greater return to office commute travel behavior happening,” said Eric Lind, manager of analytics and research.   

The rise in gas prices may also be playing a role, though it’s hard to say to what degree given other changes in travel behaviors. “Traffic and the cost of driving are among the main reasons people consider transit, so from that perspective it’s only natural to expect to see some increase in ridership,” Lind said.    

Another bright spot: Ridership on the METRO Orange Line has steadily risen since its December 2021 opening.    

The average weekday ridership on the new Bus Rapid Transit line topped 1,000 in May, more than double the average on the limited-stop route it replaced, Route 535. Before the Orange Line opened, the I-35W corridor did not have weekend service; now, 300 to 400 rides are being taken on the Orange Line on Saturdays and Sundays.    

Ridership data is updated monthly at Data lags by a month while ridership figures are being finalized.