Riders took nearly 334 million trips on SEPTA’s buses, trains and trolleys over last year – surging to levels not seen since the late 1980s, the authority reported today.
SEPTA’s Fiscal Year 2011 Ridership and Revenue Report was released today at the monthly SEPTA Board meeting. The fiscal calendar covers the 12-month period from July 1-June 30.
The report shows steady system-wide gains throughout the year. Ridership was up 4 percent, or 13 million trips. The 334 million trips represent SEPTA’s highest yearly total since 1989.
Public transit use is up nationwide, largely due to higher gas prices. SEPTA’s ridership gains, however, came in a year during which fare increases were implemented and local unemployment rates showed little improvement. Due to capital funding reductions, SEPTA was also forced to cut 25 percent of its capital budget, which put dozens of improvement projects on hold. These types of factors can easily stunt ridership growth, particularly if the gains are tied directly to gas price fluctuations.
SEPTA, however, continues to welcome a steady stream of new riders – a trend that started months before gas prices spiked. General Manger Joseph M. Casey credits aggressive efforts in recent years to improve SEPTA’s aging infrastructure, as well as customer service-focused initiatives, for helping attract and retain new riders.
“Despite very challenging economic conditions, we’re seeing sustained ridership growth,” Casey said. “That’s extremely positive, and we look forward to the possibilities ahead as these conditions improve.”
Ridership increases were recorded across the region and on all of SEPTA’s modes of travel. Trips on City Transit Division buses, trolleys and subway/subway-elevated rail increased four percent. Regional Rail trips were up by nearly a half-million, and the year-end total of 35.4 million is just shy of the ridership record set it 2008. Suburban Transit Division bus, light- and high-speed rail modes also jumped 5 percent.