Sound Transit trains, buses sustaining strong ridership growth

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Rising employment and traffic congestion continue driving demand for services

Sound Transit ridership continued its upward trajectory during the first quarter of 2015 with 8 million boardings in the first quarter, a jump of 7 percent compared to the same quarter in 2014. Average weekday boardings on Sound Transit buses and trains hit 111,218 for the quarter, an 8 percent jump over 2014.

"The ridership trend delivers a clear message: Demand for transit service continues to rise, and will only accelerate as more people live and work here, and our roadways get even more crowded," said Sound Transit Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "It's important that we expand capacity now so that we're prepared for the future."

The first quarter ridership estimates were presented to the Sound Transit Board at today's meeting. The increases are impressive because the same quarter of 2014 included the busiest day ever on Sound Transit services for the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl victory parade. Sounder ridership was particularly impressive with average weekday boardings up by 18 percent.

Sound Transit ridership continues to grow significantly faster than other transit systems around the country, which averaged around one percent annual growth in 2014, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

The first quarter ridership increases were as follows:

  • Link light rail (Seattle): 31,293 average weekday boardings and 2.4 million boardings for the quarter (7 percent weekday increase from Q1 2014)
  • ST Express regional buses: 62,285 average weekday boardings and 4.4 million boardings for the quarter (7 percent weekday increase from Q1 2014)
  • Sounder commuter rail: 13,845 average weekday boardings and 892,262 boardings for the quarter (18 percent weekday increase from Q1 2014)
  • Tacoma Link light rail: 3,655 average weekday boardings and 264,546 boardings for the quarter  (12 percent weekday increase from Q1 2014)

The full ridership report can be found here:

In June Sound Transit will host a series of open houses and kick off online efforts to gather input for a potential future ballot measure to expand regional mass transit services.

Transit is critical to the region's transportation system. Every rider is someone who doesn't compete for space on congested roads, and transit expansions offer some of the greatest opportunities to expand the transportation system's capacity.

Sound Transit is continuing its strong track record of delivering voter-approved projects. The University Link light rail extension is set to open six to nine months early in the first quarter of 2016 and is tracking more $150 million below budget. The agency remains on target to deliver more than 30 miles of light rail expansions by 2023 despite a cumulative 29 percent reduction in funding for the 15-year Sound Transit package due to the impact of that national recession.