This week we have another always excellent analytical guest blog post from Oscar Slotboom.
Average transit ridership nationwide remains down 33.4% in September compared to pre-Covid levels, but Houston Metro is doing better. With a strong upward trend in August and September, Metro’s September overall ridership is down 26.5% compared to the 12-month pre-covid average. Bus ridership is down 20.2%, light rail ridership is down 26.7% and park & ride is down 63.3%. September and October are normally the highest ridership months of the year, so the upward trend should peak in October or November (which will be boosted by parade ridership).
Houston ridership is also doing much better than Dallas. The chart below, which includes three North Texas transit agencies, is from the most recent NCTCOG meeting data and shows that transit use in North Texas remains down 39% and is basically flat in the last year. DART has a 93-mile light rail system, with nearly all of it built on dedicated right-of-way, including a long subway section, long elevated sections and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) airport service. As I reported in 2021, the light rail system has always been plagued by low ridership. Recently, the Dallas Morning News reported on the high crime rate affecting DART patrons, which probably contributes to low ridership.
Highway use in North Texas has been back at pre-Covid levels for over a year. There’s no readily available data for Houston roadway use, but it’s almost surely similar to North Texas.
(I’ve been working toward a goal of having much shorter blog posts. I have finally succeeded. Yay!)
This piece first appeared at Houston Strategies.
Tory Gattis is a Founding Senior Fellow with the Urban Reform Institute and co-authored the original study with noted urbanist Joel Kotkin and others, creating a city philosophy around upward social mobility for all citizens as an alternative to the popular smart growth, new urbanism, and creative class movements. He is also an editor of the Houston Strategies blog.