MA: Rising Gasoline Prices Drive MBTA Ridership Increase

July 28--A bumper crop of nearly 380 million trips by riders over the past 12 months gave the MBTA its highest passenger count ever for a single fiscal year, T officials announced yesterday.

"We are very excited that the MBTA had its highest ridership in its history," said General Manager Richard Davey, who attributed the gains to soaring gas prices, an improving economy and service initiatives such as real-time bus and train apps.

Ridership in the fiscal year that ended June 30 increased by 2 percent, or 7.6 million rides, over the previous year and by 5.8 percent, or 20.8 million rides, over a decade ago.

Ridership increased for the past eight months and nine out of the last 12 months.

The largest gains were on the Orange, Red and Blue lines, which saw a 5 percent increase over last year. But commuter rail ridership dipped by 1.8 percent.

Davey blamed the drop-off in commuter rail riders on a six-week winter stretch when trains were regularly crippled by cold-weather malfunctions. Also track work on the Old Colony, Fitchburg and Haverhill lines caused midday and weekend interruptions.

Meanwhile, weekend subway ridership rose significantly this year, increasing by 10 percent on Saturdays and nearly 5 percent on Sundays, with the Orange Line leading the pack seeing a 14 percent gain on Saturdays and a 9 percent boost on Sundays.

T officials said one reason for Orange Line increases was due to savings from the elimination of a second train operator, allowing for additional trains to run on weekends, shortening waits from 13 minutes to 10.

Davey acknowledged potential fare hikes next year could stunt the T's growing ridership. "That is something we will have to weigh," he said.

rweir@bostonherald.com

Copyright 2011 - Boston Herald

Loading