By Sean Brodfuehrer
The NFTA has been going through a process of organizational planning. The purpose of which is to guide the forward motion of the organization. It will evaluate the current system and define what the priorities should be in the future, as well as come up with some recommendation for changes to the system. It is their Transit Service Restructuring and Fare Study.
I was reading through the preliminary findings presentation that the NFTA has posted on their website and thought this was something that would be of interest to a larger audience. A while back they were handing out surveys to riders on buses and rail. An aggregate version of that information can be found within this survey.
Some of the highlights are:
- · Over 70% of bus and rail riders use the system at least 5 days per week.
- · 19% of riders have an income above $45,000 compared to 10% of bus riders.
- · 60% of all system users have a household income less than $25,000.
- · A higher percentage of youth and young adults use rail compared to bus.
- · 51% of bus and 46% of rail riders use the system for work.
- · Only 10% of bus riders transfer, while 30% transfer from rail to Metro Buses.
- · 56% of bus and 40% of rail users have no vehicle alternative.
You can take what you will from the stats, but some of the findings should certainly have an impact on how the NFTA does business. The fact that only 10% of the bus riders transfer is a tell sign in my opinion that people will make sure that they are on the best route from the beginning and most likely using the rail to get there instead of transferring from bus to bus. The reason for this is not defined here but from my experience I would say that information about bus to bus transfer is difficult at best to ascertain along many routes. That is because of the way the NFTA chooses to give information, one is left with guessing for both when your bus and the next bus will arrive at the intersection. They should at least rethink their maps and schedules.
There is some interesting ridership information available in the report, the exact numbers from which I do have available for someone interested in the nitty gritty information. The graphs are particularly interesting. Notice how completely off the scale ridership is for the train compared to even the most used bus line, over three times.
What are your perspectives on which lines get used and not used? Did you think that the 3 Grant was the most used bus line; with the 20 Elmwood, 12 Utica and 23 Hertel-Fillmore following up as the next three most used? What should the rest of the routes do in order to match or grow their ridership? Anything? Nothing; you like the leg room?
Something else I find extremely interesting is the peak automobile trips and the total boardings by stop. To me these two diagrams show just how futile the zone system has become for the NFTA and how it probably adds confusion and cost geographic areas which are much more intertwined then when this system was conceptualized.
Take a look, what do we think will come of this planning exercise? Also everyone who has an interest in this subject should take a couple minutes and fill out their survey.