Latest 25% Sound Transit ridership growth exceeds national growth by five times

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Sound Transit’s latest numbers confirm that rising fuel costs, congestion and environmental concerns continue to lure more Central Puget Sound residents aboard trains and buses. Average July weekday transit ridership was up 25 percent over July 2007 — including a whopping 38 percent ridership increase on Sounder commuter rail.

The American Public Transportation Association reported today that nationally, public transit systems experienced a 5 percent increase in ridership for the second quarter of 2008.

Sound Transit’s July numbers show significant continuing growth beyond the second quarter 2008 gains that Sound Transit posted earlier. Second quarter 2008 weekday ridership grew 16 percent from the same three-month period in 2007, including a 31 percent gain for Sounder commuter rail.

"Our increase in riders of transit is a great achievement," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. "Every time someone climbs aboard a bus or a train, they not only say goodbye to the major costs and headaches of driving, but reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the number of cars on the road. We must come together as a region to continue this momentum."

To learn more about today’s APTA’s report, visit http://www.apta.com/media/releases/080909_ridership_report.cfm

In July — a period in which transit ridership growth is usually not as strong — Sound Transit’s system of regional express buses, commuter rail and light rail carried about 61,000 riders each weekday, an increase of more than 10,000 from February. The July numbers are attached.

Sounder ridership gains were achieved in part by offering significant improvements in service. In the last year Sound Transit has added three new Sounder round trips and opened a new station in Mukilteo. Additional Sounder service will be coming this fall. One additional round-trip train will be added in the peak direction between Tacoma and Seattle, as well as an additional reverse-commute train in the south corridor, for a total of eight round-trip trains running between Tacoma and Seattle each weekday. One additional round-trip train will also be added on the Everett-to-Seattle line for a total of four round-trip trains in the north corridor each weekday.

If adopted, the Mass Transit Expansion Proposal before voters this November is projected to increase weekday system ridership to 358,000 in 2030. It proposes building 36 miles of additional light rail, increasing ST Express bus service by 17 percent starting in 2009 and increasing Seattle-Tacoma Sounder service 65 percent by adding more trains and lengthening platforms to accommodate longer trains. Information on the ballot measure is available at www.soundtransit.org/future. The projected 358,000 ridership level is 84 percent higher than the projected level that Sound Transit would achieve in 2030 without the expansions.