AUSTIN (KXAN) — New data released by CapMetro Tuesday reported September ridership hit more than 2 million customers, a first since February 2020. Nearly 2.1 million riders used CapMetro services last month with almost 20.5 million customers served during fiscal year 2022 between October 2021 and September 2022.
“As soon as the school year started, we saw lots more folks kind of getting back into the normal rhythm. And that’s really exciting,” said Dottie Watkins, CapMetro’s interim president and CEO. “That’s been really great to see and we continue to invest in our services to make sure that we can track the community, and we look forward to getting everybody back on board.”
When analyzing FY22 data, CapMetro reported a 20% year-over-year growth in riders over FY21. On average, the transit authority has recounted about 70% of its pre-pandemic ridership levels, a trend transit agencies are seeing across the industry.
Among service offerings, MetroBus by and large accounted for the most popular service use within CapMetro’s transit network. On average, MetroBus averages 1,767,000 riders every month.
Weekday services also lead in ridership trends across transit modes. Weekday MetroBus and MetroRapid services average 1.38 million and 310,000 riders, per data.
Looking at weekday trends, Watkins said it’s clear new habits have been born in the pandemic — namely, the way hybrid work modes have impacted transit.
“The peak travel times have changed, the peak travel days have changed,” she said, adding: “For a long time, we’ve always seen a lower commute level on Fridays….now, post-pandemic, we’re also seeing Monday’s significantly lighter than the rest of the week.”
But that isn’t to say that major weekend events like Austin FC games at Q2 Stadium or the 2022 Austin City Limits Music Festival didn’t make a splash. From ACL, Watkins noted a 30% increase in Friday ridership compared to non-festival Fridays.
With Austin FC heading to home games at Q2 Stadium, she said the transit authority has ramped up its capacity levels up to the arena.
“Austin FC games and other events at Q2 Stadium have been a real game changer for us in terms of the usage of our services up in that area,” she said. “For every Austin FC game, we put out as many trains and buses as we humanly can to help get people to and from the game.”
In Austin FC’s neck of the woods, work on CapMetro’s McKalla Station is expected to finish in the next year, bringing rail services right to Q2’s backyard.
“We want to make sure that folks think about transit as an option to get to those places, even if transit doesn’t work for their everyday trip,” she said. “For a lot of events and a lot of fun festivals and stuff that happen around town, transit is a great way to skip the parking hassle and get there and get home smoothly and easily.”
Among local routes, CapMetro’s 801 route — servicing North Lamar and South Congress — recorded the largest number of riders in September with nearly 202,000. Rounding out the top five in September include:
- Route 300 (Springdale/Oltorf): 164,728
- Route 10 (S. First/Oltorf): 147,966
- Route 20 (Manor Road/Riverside): 145,384
- Route 7 (Duval/Dove Springs): 145,046
“We’ll continue to collect data and get our hands on all the information we possibly can, but we also want to hear from our customers,” Watkins said. “So if there are folks that wish they had more service or want to see service reinstated that may still not be operating, they should let us know…we’re here to serve our customers and improve mobility in the community.”