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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ridership down on Metro

It is with unfortunate news that Cincinnati's Metro has reported a 4.3% drop in ridership from January-September 2007 versus the same time frame in 2008, despite higher gasoline prices. This is in sharp contrast to the The American Public Transportation Association's figures that present a large gain for the vast majority of the mass transit networks nationwide.

Of course, what the Cincinnati Enquirer article fails to mention, is that long-distance commuting is up 18% in October compared with last year. A sizable increase was also reported in August, but both did not make the Enquirer's radar.

What's also missing is the University of Cincinnati's partnership with Metro that has been overwhelmingly successful. Aimed at easing notoriously painful traffic congestion in the Uptown locale, and reduce the need for parking, nearly 2,000 University of Cincinnati students and faculty members take advantage of the free rides that is funded by the university's Student Government. Nine routes are currently enrolled in the program, and all that is required is a student identification card.

It should be noted that the Cincinnati Enquirer should not be used as a point-of-reference for these local developments. When an article is a cut-and-paste job with a clear bias, and a lack of moderation in their user comments section, one has to wonder what the Enquirer's real priorities are. Let's hope that they report on the uptick in ridership by Metro when the figures are released for December 2008.

6 comments:

Randy Simes said...

Metro is underfunded in many ways. They are unable to do many of the things necessary to improve their fleet and system that would help boost ridership. The lack of real-time arrivals and bonifide bus stops are probably the most damaging.

Metro is doing a lot of things right, and has to keep doing more with less. If this community wants to improve its system and its usage numbers then it needs to learn that you get what you pay for. If the community doesn't want this then they shouldn't be complaining about difficult numbers in a difficult situation.

D R E W said...

That's why I don't read cincinnati.com. The comments section always makes my stomach churn.

tpetross said...

Good points on this. The ridership figures represent only the normal, fare-paying riders. The 4.5% overall decrease coupled with the 18% commuter increase, means simply that a combination of two things are happening. Those who live in the urban core (most likely the poor) are suffering so badly that they are unable to even take the bus as frequently as they may have otherwise. As you said, it's unfortunate that the Enquirer does such shoddy reporting and analysis.

5chw4r7z said...

I wonder how much gas price fatigue accounts for this after a couple months of $3.85 a gallon gas, the hassle of riding the bus is too great and people start driving again. Cleveland, among other cities has webpages you can check to see exactly where the bus is. Nothing worse for me than rushing out of the office to the stop and waiting 20 minutes for the late bus. Or even worse, it actually shows up early and I watch it driving off while I'm walking to the stop the same time as always.
That said, the bus route was almost designed for me, and I don't think I would go back to driving even if UC didn't pay me to ride the bus.

Quim said...

Unemployment would hurt ridership, too.
Kind of OT, but, does Metro have any way to tell how far an average trip is ?

ekalb said...

My bus route would be perfect if it covered Sundays and Holidays. I agree with 5chw4r7z that scheduled stops is a big issue. Specifically for those used to driving on their own schedule. I wonder if community groups would be interested in chipping in for a few bus gps units to see how well bus tracking works for Cincy. I loved San Francisco's bus system with their countdown clocks at each stop. But I would be happy just knowing that when I walk to the stop from home, the bus is on it's way.

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