The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) released its ridership numbers for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22).
Ridership on San Diego MTS continues to climb, exceeding five million trips a month since March 2022. The FY22 report revealed an increase in ridership of 52 percent for Trolley and 41 percent for bus when compared to FY21. Between July 2021 to June 2022, Trolley ridership totaled 29.7 million trips compared to 19.5 million in the previous fiscal year. Bus ridership totaled 27.7 million trips compared to 19.6 million trips the year prior.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided a major challenge for transit agencies across the country as commute habits changed, including at MTS where ridership dropped to about 30 percent of normal levels in April 2020. Ridership has since been able to recover to approximately 75 percent of pre-pandemic levels and reached approximately 200,000 weekday trips in the spring-summer of 2022.
The largest increase in Trolley ridership was seen on the UC San Diego Blue Line, which went up by 66 percent, jumping from 10.4 million rides the prior fiscal year to 17.4 million. In November 2021, MTS inaugurated an 11-mile Mid-Coast Trolley extension to UTC, and this allowed for the largest increase in ridership in one year for any line in the history of MTS.
Getting back to school and office
Some of the largest increases in ridership were along routes that serve major schools and employment centers. The Rapid 201/202/204 routes all saw more than 300 percent jumps in ridership as UC San Diego students and staff returned to school in person.
Bus ridership also increased to more than one million trips each for the system’s highest performing bus routes which include Rapid 215 and Routes 7, 13 and 929, and serve areas of City Heights, downtown, City College, South Bay and Grantville.
Youth ride free
In May 2022, MTS, North County Transit District (NCTD) and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) launched the Youth Opportunity Pass (YOP) Pilot program, which allows youth 18 and under to ride free. Following the launch of YOP, youth bus ridership jumped 34 percent in the first month of free transit (May vs April 2022), and remained high in June, even as schools were no longer in session (18 percent increase over April 2022).
MTS operates more than 100 bus routes and three Trolley lines in 10 cities and unincorporated areas of San Diego.