Deconstructing PSTA Ridership Charts

As we have been discussing Greenlight with the public over the past months, we have had lots of opportunities to talk about our ridership numbers. This has been a great opportunity for us at PSTA (a.k.a. public transit geeks) to talk about the science of how we plan and manage our routes.

The chart below was developed through our Community Bus Plan and it simply illustrates total ridership by route:

chart 1The danger here is that this one chart doesn’t tell the whole story or really give you the full formula of how we manage routes, it simply shows ridership on routes- not the frequency of those routes.  For an example, look a the 98 (yellow). This chart makes it look no one is riding it; but, this route only runs five times a day and is a popular commuter route.

To really understand this you need to look at this second chart:

chart 2This chart is a true measure of transit success. It shows the number of people boarding PSTA buses while they are in service. Now look at the 60, 14, 78 & 67 – they’re four of the top producing routes in the entire PSTA system, even though the first chart makes it seem like they’re not. And, the 98 may only run 5 times a day, but there are a lot of people getting on and off those buses. Just like many others in the system, it’s a very productive route.

So, when one has all of the data, it’s easy to see that most PSTA routes perform quite well. Like any system, there are routes with lower ridership – these are the routes that feed riders into the corridors where the higher ridership routes are running. Think of it like your neighborhood street feeding into a main street, which feeds into the major roadways in our county – they all work together as a system, just like PSTA’s bus routes.

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1 Comment

Filed under Behind the Scenes, Greenlight Pinellas, Transit Data, Transit Services

One response to “Deconstructing PSTA Ridership Charts

  1. JohnB

    Charts and graphs can be confusing to many of us. Can you please tell us the utilization rate in terms of the number of riders on buses as a % of the passenger capacity available on those buses per revenue hour? Per revenue mile? Or some metric that provides a ridership vs. capacity ratio. It seems that using your logic of feeder streets, it would be more efficient to have smaller buses as feeders to larger buses which could be allocated to
    higher ridership routes.

    “So, when one has all of the data, it’s easy to see that most PSTA routes perform quite well.”

    I believe we are all on the same page – that we need better public transit and the only questions are (1) how do we get there and (2) how much will it cost? Here are a couple of recent articles that point to buses as a better solution for our demographics (we do not have large/concentrated job centers).
    http://object.cato.org/…/files/pubs/pdf/pa750_web.pdf
    http://sayanythingblog.com/entry/expert-pinellas-light-rail-plan-an-expensive-low-capacity-mistake/

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