Transit Troubles? Bay Area Bus Ridership Down

SamTrans buses
Noah Berger

A group of Bay Area agencies that provide bus transit throughout the region are showing a downward trend in ridership, according to an MTC audit.

The high cost of Bay Area living may be playing a role.

The MTC divides Bay Area operators into three groups, with one group audited each year on a three-year cycle. 

The audits focus on each operator’s three-year trends for certain performance indicators, including cost per hour, cost per passenger and passengers per hour. The audit showed between the summer of 2014 and the summer of 2017 ridership declined for several transit agencies, following a national trend.

The SamTrans, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, WestCat, Tri Delta, Soltrans, Vacaville and Rio Vista systems all showed declines in riders. The Napa Valley Transportation Authority and Dixon showed an increase in ridership as well as service during the period.  

Among the possible contributors of slowing ridership: higher minimum wages,  allowing for car ownership; the high cost of living in the Bay Area forcing lower income bus riders out if the region; Lyft and Uber siphoning riders.  

MTC staff is working with researchers from UCLA to conduct a study of ridership in the Bay Area that should be completed in the fall of 2019.


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