If you check out the West Seattle Water Taxi ridership numbers for October and November, you’ll notice a double-digit ridership drop for each of those months, year-to-year. October was down almost 19 percent from a year earlier, November was down 18 percent. (December numbers aren’t posted yet.)
One thing that occurred to us shortly after noticing those numbers: October marked the launch of the RapidRide C Line and the restructuring of other West Seattle bus routes, including a cut in service on Route 37, which serves the West Seattle waterfront. West Seattle’s County Councilmember Joe McDermott chairs the WT-overseeing King County Ferry District Board; legislative assistant Michelle Allison acknowledges that could be part of the reason:
The Ferry District and the Marine Division have been working to better understand these numbers as well. There are a couple of reasons why we think the ridership has taken a bit of a dip.
The first is that during 2011 we experienced a significant jump in ridership beginning in October with the viaduct closure – who could forget Viadoom. October of 2011 there was a 141% increase over the October 2010 ridership, November saw a 277% increase and December a 260% increase. When comparing the 2012 numbers, it is certainly not realistic to think that the increases from 2011 were going to be sustainable over the long haul. We have, however, retained a good portion of those riders when compared to 2010.
The second factor is, as you noted, the implementation of the RapidRide C. We think that some of our ridership is finding that commute option more to their liking. These two factors may account for some of the lower ridership numbers for West Seattle during the last quarter of 2012. The good news is that total 2012 West Seattle ridership was up 15.4% for the year compared to 2011. A total of just under 250,000 riders compared to 216,000 in 2011.
As you wrote about in October, the Board approved a schedule change for the morning run. There is now a 6:15 run which we hope will better accommodate the early commuters. We also hope to better communicate our service to West Seattle and area residents in the coming year.
The winter schedule continues through April 7th; note that the Water Taxi will not be in service on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day on January 21st, one week from next Monday.