CEO Wiggins pledges to restore subway ridership to pre-COVID levels by July 2023 – Streetsblog Los Angeles

At last week’s State of the Agency event, Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins pledged to bring Metro ridership back to pre-pandemic levels within the year. coming.

Wiggins said transit customer experience will be central to its work this year, noting, “Our system will be noticeably cleaner, safer and more reliable for you, our customers, so you can choose Metro with confidence. trust.” The CEO said his main goals for this year include “restore[ing] ridership at pre-pandemic levels by the next state of the Agency [July 2023]. This means we will see an increase in ridership from 789,000 to 1.2 million average weekday riders. Wiggins pointed to several factors that will help increase ridership: “I believe we can do this because we are opening over ten miles of new rail service this year. We are restoring service on our bus lines. And we invest heavily in creating a fast, clean, reliable and secure system.

Metro’s recent service and ridership statistics show what Wiggins and Metro riders already know: Achieving this critically important goal won’t be easy.

At the start of the pandemic, metro ridership fell to about a third of pre-COVID levels.

Metro ridership since the start of the pandemic - via the metro staff report
Metro ridership since the start of the pandemic – via the metro staff report (click to enlarge)
LA County's COVID spikes were the worst in December-January in 2021-22 and 2022-23.  Chart via NYT/Google
LA County’s COVID spikes were the worst in December-January in 2020-21 and 2021-22. Chart via NYT/Google (click to enlarge)

Due to interrelated factors – pandemic flare-ups, bus operator shortages and reduced/inconsistent service (more on these below), current ridership has only recovered to around two-thirds of levels pre-COVID.

Subway ridership has largely rebounded between the biggest surges of COVID – the biggest of which has been in the last two periods from December to January. To date, Metro’s COVID-era record was November 2021, when the system carried 71% of pre-COVID ridership.

Last month, overall boardings were 66% of pre-COVID figures.

Metro bus ridership declined less – and rebounded faster – compared to the metro. In May, buses carried 71% of pre-COVID levels, while rail saw 55%.

In September 2020, in response to the onset of the pandemic, Metro reduced transit service by twenty percent. Despite a council directive (and funding) to restore pre-pandemic service levels, Metro operations have struggled to restore service to what they were able to provide in 2019. After some delays , full transit service was due to be restored in September 2021. At that time, Metro claimed full ‘scheduled’ service had been restored, but bus trip cancellations were running at more than ten for cent, meaning less service than promised, operating unreliably and stressful on a remnant operator workforce that Metro had neglected to replenish.

In a diabolical market, Metro again cut service by 10-12% in February 2020, promising better reliability. Improved reliability; canceled bus trips fell from over ten percent to around two percent. But bus users suffered reduced service, which was still less reliable than it was before the pandemic. Last month, Metro restored some additional services, although overall service hours remain about 10% lower than pre-pandemic service.

Data analyzed and graphed by LA transit rider Ian Rose (posted on Twitter in a very informative thread) show a finer picture of recent Metro bus service and cancellations.

Regular metro service compared to actual service. The top (flat) edge of the blue shows Metro’s scheduled/scheduled transit service. The blue represents the voided serve, with the lower (serrated) edge of the blue indicating the actual serve. The Metro cut regular service in February 2020 (red vertical line) and restored part of the cut service on June 26, 2020 (small bump up). Graphic by Ian Rose

Rose’s graph illustrates the difference between Metro’s scheduled bus service (flat upper edge of the blue area of ​​the graph above) and actual service (regular service minus cancellations – shown in the cog-shaped lower edge blue zone saw). Rose notes that her charts only show weekday buses, not including late night service.

The data clearly shows what subway users have experienced. The Metro bus service was indeed plagued by high levels of cancellations before the February service cut (thick blue area at left). Reductions resulted in fewer cancellations (thinner blue in the center). And, a few weeks later, June’s modest increase in service appears to have brought back somewhat higher cancellation levels, though it’s probably too early to say conclusively (hopefully Metro fixes the situation). ).

The Rose Yarn includes finer detail charts showing individual bus lines following or not following the general trends. Below are some sample graphics showing subway service on Vermont Avenue, Western Avenue, and Santa Monica Boulevard.

The 204 Vermont Avenue line saw particularly heavy cancellations before February; this improved after the February cuts. In June, Metro increased 204 service to just above 2021 levels.
The 207 Western Avenue line also saw heavy cancellations before the February service cut, which were reduced but not eliminated by the cut. The recent trend from May to June seems to show that the increase in scheduled service is being hampered by increasing cancellations.
Santa Monica Boulevard Line 4 saw a deep reduction in service in February (~20%) compared to overall reductions (~10-12%), with minimal restoration in June undermined by ongoing cancellations.

Rose points to various other informative examples:

  • Several lines serving the city center had less drastic cuts and were mostly restored in June: 2 (Sunset), 16 (Third), 28 (Olympic), 33 (Venice) and 51 (Avalon)
  • Many other lines serving the city center did not have significantly restored service in June
  • Line 205 (Wilmington) sees more cancellations now than before February cuts
  • Line 125 (Rosescreens) also sees more cancellations now than before the February cuts and saw its service cut in June, when most lines saw their service increase
  • The system’s worst cancellation rate is line 603 (Glendale Galleria-USC), whose service was further reduced in June and which still sees 25 to 30 percent of service canceled from its service hours.
  • Other low traffic lines had service cuts in June: 501 (Pasadena-North Hollywood), 577 (CSULB-VA Medical Center) and 605 (USC Medical Center)

Graphically represent your own bus line(s) on Rose’s github site.

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