The number of people using County Connection services is increasing and the trend looks to continue into 2015. As the economy began its turnaround a few years ago, we have seen our overall ridership grow by over 5 percent. This is not unexpected. A better performing economy means that people have more places to go and can afford to travel more. And, when we look at a few select examples, we can reasonably conclude that many new riders are using County Connection to travel to and from job sites.
For example, when we look at this past October and compare it to October 2013, we find a number of interesting things. Take average weekday ridership. In October of 2014, County Connection had an average weekday ridership of 14,112 passengers, while in October 2013 the figure was 12,752 passengers. This represents an increase in average weekday ridership of 13 percent. We see something similar when looking at a standard measure of productivity: passengers per revenue hour (pax/rvh) of service. In October 2014, County Connection had a pax/rvh of 17.4 compared to 15.7 in October of 2013. This is represents an increase of 10.8 percent.
We also see a good increase with weekend ridership. Again using October as our snapshot, we see that in October 2014, total weekend ridership is at 23,248 passengers compared to 22,651 passengers in October 2013. This increase of 2.6 percent becomes more meaningful when considering that October 2013 had nine weekend days to the eight weekend days of October 2014.
If we study routes, certain ones have experienced significantly greater increases in ridership than others. For example, Route 95X – an express service between the Walnut Creek BART Station and the Bishop Ranch Business Park – has seen a 16 percent increase from October 2013 to October 2014. This reflects the growing employment numbers at the businesses in the location. Another route example that really jumps out is the huge increase on Route 5, which connects the Creekside neighborhood in Walnut Creek with downtown Walnut Creek and eventually the BART Station. This route has an increase of 277 percent from October 2013 to October 2014! This is most certainly due to the free fares now offered on Route 5 through a City of Walnut Creek fare subsidization of all riders using this route. This means that in October 2013, riders paid a fare to board the bus, while in October 2014, the City of Walnut Creek covered each rider’s fare.
We also have seen a large increase in usage within the Dougherty Valley area of San Ramon. This area is primarily served by Route 35, which connects the heart of Dougherty Valley with the Dublin BART Station largely via Bollinger Canyon Road and Dougherty Road. In October 2014, this route had an average weekday ridership of 540 passengers compared to 448 average weekday passengers in 2013. This represents an increase of nearly 21 percent.
Finally, County Connection saw an increase of 23 percent from October 2013 to October 2014 on Route 6. This route serves Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda connecting them to the Lafayette and Orinda BART Stations via Moraga Road and Moraga Way.
Regardless of the reasons for the ridership gains, from subsidies to the growing economy, all of us at County Connection are very encouraged and buoyed by these – in some cases very substantial – increases. Together with our riders, we are contributing to more cars off the road, lessening congestion and improving the environment in our community.