Transit Ridership

Desired Trend

Up

Current Trend

Up
Baseline (2010): 43.0 million
Current (2015): 49.5 million

Theme Connected

Definition

Annual transit boardings system-wide (MetroLink/Bus System/Call-A-Ride)

Why is it Important?

Public transit provides a variety of benefits, including reduced pollution, reduced energy use, reduced congestion on roads, and accessible transportation options for users of all ages and abilities. Public transit also benefits the local economy and increases access to employment opportunities. The number of boardings on public transit shows how often the system is used, and provides an indication of the efficiency and efficacy of the system. This indicator measures ridership on Metro and Madison County Transit Systems, which are the two major transit providers in the St. Louis region.1

How are we Doing?

Over the past five years, transit ridership increased in the St. Louis region but ridership has declined over a longer time period. In the baseline year, there were 43.0 million trips on public transit, compared with 49.5 million in 2015. Ridership in the region reached a peak of 56.5 million in 2007 and declined over the next several years. Since 2012, ridership has fluctuated between 49.5 and 51.0 million. However, transit ridership in 2015 is still 8.6 percent lower than it was in 2000 (54.2 million). The decline in transit ridership over the last decade is partly due to Metro’s service reduction in March 20092 as well as the economic recession.

Another indicator of transit use is passenger miles, which shows the total number of miles traveled by transit users. Passenger miles increased in the St. Louis region from 2000 to 2015 by 15.8 percent, even though ridership declined over the same time period. The increase in passenger miles is partly due to a decrease in bus travel, which averages lower miles per trip, and an increase in light rail, which averages higher miles per trip. There was also an increase in average distances for both bus and light rail trips over the last decade in the St. Louis region. The average miles per bus trip increased from 4.2 miles in 2000 to 5.1 in 2015, and the average miles per light rail trip increased from 6.7 miles in 2000 to 8.3 miles in 2015.

In 2015, the St. Louis region ranked 24th among the 50 largest metro regions with a total of 23.0 transit boardings (or unlinked passenger trips) per person. Transit ridership in the St. Louis region is substantially lower than the peer region average (64.0 trips per person).

Transit Ridership and passenger miles  Metro St. Louis

Geographic Level

Metro Transit and Madison County Transit service areas, including St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, Madison County, and St. Clair County

Notes

1Transit ridership for this indicator is measured using unlinked passenger trips, meaning that each boarding is counted even if it is a transfer. Although this method over counts the total number of trips, it provides a more accurate estimate of ridership than linked passenger trips because there is less room for error. Ridership statistics include trips by bus, light rail, van pool, and paratransit (a transportation service that helps the elderly or disabled reach medical appointments, school, or work.)

Data Sources

National Transit Database