Three transit agencies reach ridership milestones in Q1 2023

April 10, 2023
Omaha Metro’s ORBT, Florida’s Tri-Rail and L.A. Metro’s Metro Micro pilot all notched significant ridership increases that the agencies say demonstrate the value of new and streamlined services to their communities.

In the first quarter of 2023, three transit agencies set ridership milestones. Omaha Metro’s ORBT reached one million rides, Tri-Rail ridership saw a 25 percent increase from Q1 2022 and L.A. Metro’s Metro Micro pilot became the first on-demand publicly operated rideshare in the nation to reach one million boardings.

Omaha Metro’s ORBT

Omaha Metro’s first rapid transit line (ORBT) reached one million rides on March 23.

“We’re seeing a steady growth in ridership,” said Lauren Cencic, Omaha Metro CEO. “It’s an honor to deliver high-quality transit to the Omaha community, whether they’re longtime riders with Omaha Metro or the newer riders who continue to be drawn to the streamlined service.”

ORBT introduced new amenities for riders along an eight-mile stretch of Dodge and Douglas Streets: Stations with real-time arrival, touch screens where passengers can plan their trips, Wi-Fi at stations and onboard and the ability to pay fares before the trip takes off.

Beyond the stations, ORBT enhanced connections between downtown and Westroads. ORBT can take riders directly to multiple educational and medical institutions, important workforce hubs and social service organizations and Omaha’s most iconic park. ORBT connects with nearly every route in Omaha Metro’s transit network. One out of every six trips on all Omaha Metro buses happens on an ORBT.

“ORBT connects our city in a way we haven’t seen before. We know those connections are growing our community and our economy and have a profound impact on the individuals who are accessing new levels of opportunity to unlock a better future. We are so proud of the many ways ORBT has added to the vibrancy of our community,” said Amy Haase, chair of Omaha Metro’s Board of Directors.

Tri-Rail ridership

Tri-Rail ridership averaged more than 13,000 weekday and 6,500 weekend passengers in the first three months of 2023. The numbers represent an overall 25 percent increase from the same time in 2022. Tri-Rail has surpassed 300,000 rides in the first quarter of 2023.

In January 2023, TriMet reported a 30 percent increase compared to January 2022. Similarly, February 2023 saw a 27 percent increase, and March 2023 saw a 20 percent increase compared to the same months in 2022. March 2023 is also the first month where Tri-Rail surpassed 350,000 passengers in a month since just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thanks to the commitment of our daily commuters combined with South Florida’s year-round airport travelers, Tri-Rail ridership numbers remain on the upswing,” said Commissioner Raquel Regalado, Tri-Rail governing board chair. “We have also witnessed many leisure travelers onboard as people take the train to explore new destinations in South Florida.”

A recent survey performed by the agency showed 50 percent of passengers ride the train to get to work, 32 percent use the train to travel for leisure and 46 percent of respondents said they traveled to the airport, whether for work or leisure.

Hundreds of students take the train daily to and from school, and weekend ridership has been at above-average levels, thanks in part to recent regional events like the Ultra Music Festival, Calle Ocho, Lake Worth Beach Street Painting Festival and Tri-Rail’s Rail Fun Day.

“There have been days where we carried up to 1,000 bikes onboard the trains, so we are working at adjusting our equipment to continue to accommodate the influx of riders,” added David Dech, Tri-Rail executive director. “We give a big thanks to our passengers for counting on us as their best substitute for driving on I-95, and we promise there will be more improvements to come.”

L.A. Metro’s Metro Micro pilot

In March 2023, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (L.A. Metro) Metro Micro became the first on-demand publicly operated rideshare in the nation to reach one million boardings. In the past two years, Metro Micro has kept fares to $1, giving essential workers another way to get around and established a presence in Equity Focused Communities — where on-demand rideshares are often in short supply.

The L.A. Metro Board decided to extend the L.A. Metro Micro pilot for the next six months. L.A. Metro launched Metro Micro in December 2020 and was a big part of L.A. Metro’s NextGen Bus Plan — with Metro Micro helping provide service in key parts of LA county.

Metro Micro across all seven zones has been used by essential workers. Currently, 31 percent of Metro Micro’s footprint is serving Equity Focused Communities.

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.