Fare assessment: Ridership down, revenues up

Friday, October 09, 2009

From an article by Kristin Czubkowski in The Capital Times:

Nearly six months after Madison Metro's bus fare increase took effect, the ridership numbers admittedly do not look good.

Through April 2009, when the increase that raised cash fares 50 cents and other fares proportionally took place, Metro ridership was up 6.4 percent from 2008. But in every month since, ridership has decreased, ranging from a 1.32 percent drop in May to, more recently, decreases of 5.4 percent in July and 4.3 percent in August.

For opponents of the bus fare increase, the numbers are a clear case of "I told you so," but supporters of the increase and Metro staff say that bus ridership is down across the country because of low gas prices and the sluggish economy, and that the fare increase is bringing in additional revenue during otherwise lean times.

"I think you can't say that the drop in ridership is due to anything else (other than the fare increase) because it's so obvious that there were still the gains (in ridership) in January, February, March, and then the fare increase came," says bus advocate Tim Wong. "May and June were down a little bit, and then July and August were what I would presume the trend is going to be."