Light-Rail Rides on Rise, August Stats Show; Boardings Bottomed Out in July

Categories: The Rail Thing

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It was a sluggish summer for Metro light rail, but ridership is ramping up again thanks to a new semester at Arizona State University. Officials estimate the trains were boarded 882,328 times in August, which was far more than in either June or July.

Traffic on the rail dropped from a high of more than one million estimated boardings in April to the system's low-water mark of 750,551 in July. Officials had expected the heat and lack of tourists and students would mean fewer riders, naturally. A price hike went into effect in July, too, boosting the cost of an all-day pass on the light rail (and buses) from $2.50 to $3.50.

We'd say the uptick in August numbers seem to come in spite of the fare increase, but we don't yet know how many riders actually paid the fare in August. Many of the extra riders could have been freeloaders. We put in a request for the latest fare collection estimates and expect Metro to get back to us soon.

Scroll down for the Metro news releases from August and July:

PHOENIX -- METRO light rail ridership totaled 882,328 boardings in August 2009 creating an average weekday ridership of 33,111, average Saturday ridership of 22,575 and average Sunday and holiday ridership of 14,823.

Ridership is again trending positive with the start of schools, particularly ASU, and return of the fall season. ASU began its fall semester on Monday, Aug. 24 and the impact to METRO ridership was immediate. Comparing to the Monday before ASU's start (Aug. 17), METRO served an additional 7,000 passengers on Aug. 24.

After eight months of operation and completion of the system's first summer cycle, METRO ridership remains above all projections.

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