July 2017 Transit Riders Drop 3.6% from 2016

Nationwide transit ridership continues to decline, and that decline, if anything, is accelerating. Ridership in July 2017 was 3.6 percent lower than the same month in 2016, while ridership in the first seven months of 2017 was 3.0 percent lower than the same months in 2016. These numbers are from the National Transit Database monthly data reports.

The monthly reports have every month from January 2002 through July 2017. The Antiplanner has summed the data by year, and also summed the first seven months of 2016 and 2010 for comparison with 2017. At the bottom of the original spreadsheet, the Antiplanner has also summed the data by transit agency (rows 2100-3098) and for the 200 largest urbanized areas (rows 3102-3301). Finally, columns HH through HJ calculate the percentage change from July 2017 vs. July 2016; January-July change from 2016 to 2017; and the January-July change from 2010 to 2017. Data junkies are welcome to download this 7.7-MB Excel file.

As shown in the table below, of the nation’s 100 largest urbanized areas, only a handful enjoyed ridership gains for all three time periods considered: Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New Orleans, McAllen (TX), Albany, Columbia (SC), and Colorado Springs. Houston’s ridership may have grown since 2010, but its 2010 ridership had fallen by more than 20 percent since 2006, and 2017 numbers were still well short of 2006. Previous reports had shown Seattle ridership growing, but that region’s ridership declined by 1.8 percent in July 2017 vs. July 2016. Update: I am reliably informed that the Seattle decline is solely due to an error in the data. It should be corrected by FTA’s August update.

July, 2017 Change in Ridership by Urban Area

 7/17 vs 7/161-7/17 vs 161-7/17 vs 10
New York-0.5%-0.9%4.6%
Los Angeles-7.0%-6.6%-17.0%
Chicago-3.8%-3.8%-5.8%
Miami-12.9%-7.9%-10.4%
Philadelphia-9.5%-10.5%-5.5%
Dallas-Ft. Worth-0.7%-1.1%1.9%
Houston0.7%1.4%12.0%
Washington-4.7%-3.5%-13.8%
Atlanta-6.3%-2.2%-14.8%
Boston-10.0%-4.1%7.9%
Detroit-14.6%-9.7%-30.2%
Phoenix0.7%3.1%-2.6%
San Francisco-Oakland-2.1%-5.2%6.4%
Seattle-1.8%2.0%17.9%
San Diego-7.2%-4.2%4.5%
Minneapolis-St. Paul1.0%0.5%4.8%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-12.5%-6.5%-2.8%
Denver0.7%-4.7%1.3%
Baltimore-4.9%-5.2%-11.4%
St. Louis-7.8%-6.3%-2.4%
San Juan-2.3%-11.2%-51.3%
Riveride-San Bernardino-5.5%-5.6%-12.0%
Las Vegas-3.2%-0.9%22.6%
Portland-6.3%-2.6%-0.9%
Cleveland-10.8%-10.3%-10.9%
San Antonio-2.5%-2.7%-10.3%
Pittsburgh-12.3%-2.9%-4.6%
Sacramento-13.1%-8.9%-28.3%
San Jose-6.6%-9.9%-10.1%
Cincinnati-1.3%-1.1%-6.6%
Kansas City-8.8%1.7%2.5%
Orlando-8.0%-3.5%4.6%
Indianapolis-8.7%-3.5%4.9%
Virginia Beach-0.9%-3.2%-9.6%
Milwaukee-15.7%-11.5%-19.5%
Columbus-15.2%-2.4%6.6%
Austin7.9%-12.2%-20.7%
Charlotte-11.7%-11.9%-9.4%
Providence-5.4%-8.1%-10.9%
Jacksonville-5.6%-3.2%12.0%
Memphis-11.9%-7.0%-39.8%
Salt Lake City-1.5%-0.1%17.9%
Louisville-3.1%-4.8%-8.6%
Nashville-1.3%-0.9%21.7%
Richmond-12.3%-9.6%-21.3%
Buffalo-5.0%-5.7%-10.3%
Hartford-10.2%-6.0%10.3%
Bridgeport-12.1%-10.9%-9.2%
New Orleans0.8%2.0%31.6%
Raleigh-3.1%-5.7%2.9%
Oklahoma City-0.2%-0.5%13.0%
Tucson-12.6%-8.5%-16.8%
El Paso15.5%12.6%-7.4%
Honolulu-1.7%-4.8%-9.3%
Birmingham-3.3%-9.8%5.7%
Albuquerque-11.1%-10.9%-14.2%
McAllen21.4%3.9%348.5%
Omaha2.6%-0.1%-3.3%
Dayton-9.2%-10.1%-11.1%
Rochester NY-3.7%-3.9%-11.8%
Allentown-13.6%-5.7%-13.8%
Tulsa-100.0%-14.7%-5.3%
Fresno-20.2%-12.0%-32.9%
Sarasota-11.7%-1.6%48.9%
Springfield MA-5.7%-11.7%12.2%
Concord-6.6%-7.0%-1.8%
Albany19.0%4.3%26.4%
Baton Rouge10.9%-5.6%6.3%
Mission Viejo-86.7%-61.3%-20.6%
Grand Rapids-4.2%-3.2%16.6%
Akron-3.2%-1.2%-3.2%
New Haven-18.3%-9.6%-12.9%
Colorado Springs0.5%5.9%25.8%
Knoxville-5.5%-4.8%3.2%
Columbia SC1.1%1.4%27.9%
Charleston-7.0%-6.7%-12.0%
Ogden
Cape Coral-2.4%-1.8%7.2%
Bakersfield-6.6%-5.3%-29.6%
Toledo-2.9%-4.5%-22.0%
Worcester-15.0%-10.8%2.9%
Provo-Orem
Wichita5.0%-14.9%-41.3%
Palm Bay-5.2%-4.1%16.3%
Des Moines-1.8%-4.7%1.9%
Harrisburg-13.0%-10.8%-22.5%
Murrieta
Little Rock-2.7%-4.1%0.4%
Poughkeepsie2.2%-4.1%-33.2%
Syracuse-9.3%-1.6%-8.9%
Lancaster-100.0%-18.5%-18.5%
Madison-2.9%-3.3%-4.1%
Greenville-12.2%-5.7%209.8%
Reno0.8%0.1%2.0%
Winston-Salem-100.0%-30.8%-30.6%
Spokane2.1%-0.6%-4.6%
Youngstown0.1%-1.3%12.2%
Augusta-13.4%-6.7%31.7%
Scranton-5.6%-5.3%-29.9%
Chattanooga-3.5%-5.5%-7.1%
Transit for Ogden and Provo-Orem urban areas is handled by Utah Transit, whose results are reported under Salt Lake City. Transit for the Murrieta urban area is handled by Riverside Transit, whose results are reported under Riverside-San Bernardino.

The Federal Transit Administration publishes monthly data in two forms: raw and adjusted. The adjusted database attempts to account for individual transit agencies that discover errors in data collection by increasing or reducing the numbers reported before the errors were found. My file is based on the adjusted data, but most of the discovered errors took place before 2010 so have little effect on the numbers shown above. See the “Read Me” page of the adjusted (and my revised) data file for more information.

The data files also show 2002-2017 vehicle-revenue miles and vehicle-revenue hours, but I haven’t summed any of the numbers on those worksheets. A “master” worksheet also shows passenger miles, fares, and operating expenses for July 2017 only.

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4 thoughts on “July 2017 Transit Riders Drop 3.6% from 2016

  1. CapitalistRoader

    It’s interesting that Denver has spent billions installing and running trains and saw a 1% ridership increase over the past seven years while Colorado Springs kept their buses and saw a 26% increase. Population increase for both metro areas in that time frame was about the same.

  2. prk166

    It does beg the question of exactly how all these giant subidies for sports teams and trolleys makes a difference. You have the springs and Denver, 2 cities in the same state and same country with essentially the same climate and geology. They’ve both attracted a lot of big tech companies, other big companies, have plenty of start-ups and each have a large pool of government based jobs to anchor things.

    How is it that they’re both growing more or less just as fast when one has the big teams to offer and the other doesn’t’? One has that rail that supposedly millennials crave like zombies craze brains. And they both have pretty mountains to look at while perched on the edge of the high plains.

    Likewise, as CapitalistRoader pointed out, you’d expect their growth in transit trips to be similar, with each experience a growth proportional to the growth in population and the growth in VMTs. Except it’s the no trains, no big tiem sports teams Colorado Springs that’s seeing the growth in it’s transit ridership that’s at least a nod in the right direction.

  3. prk166

    It does beg the question of exactly how all these giant subidies for sports teams and trolleys makes a difference. You have the springs and Denver, 2 cities in the same state and same country with essentially the same climate and geology. They’ve both attracted a lot of big tech companies, other big companies, have plenty of start-ups and each have a large pool of government based jobs to anchor things.

    How is it that they’re both growing more or less just as fast when one has the big teams to offer and the other doesn’t’? One has that rail that supposedly millennials crave like zombies craze brains. And they both have pretty mountains to look at while perched on the edge of the high plains.

    Likewise, as CapitalistRoader pointed out, you’d expect their growth in transit trips to be similar, with each experience a growth proportional to the growth in population and the growth in VMTs. Except it’s the no trains, no big tiem sports teams Colorado Springs that’s seeing the growth in it’s transit ridership that’s at least a nod in the right direction.

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