August 07, 2018
FLAGSTAFF, AZ (August 7, 2018)
Mountain Line is bucking the nationwide trend of declining bus ridership, registering another year of record ridership and surpassing Fiscal Year 2017 ridership by more than 17 percent.
The official ridership tally for July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018 was 2,440,338. When Mountain Line started in 2001, the annual ridership was just shy of 200,000, and the agency hit the 1 million rider mark in 2009 and the 2 million rider mark in 2017. While Mountain Line’s ridership has been on the rise, many bus systems across the country have been experiencing multi-year ridership declines. According to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) ridership report, bus ridership is down 4.27 percent through the end of 2017.
One factor for the ridership increase was the addition of new buses to better serve busy routes. After experiencing overcrowding and crush loads on Route 10 (free for NAU students and connects the Woodlands Village area and downtown Flagstaff via the NAU campus), Mountain Line applied for and received grant funding to purchase five 60-foot, hybrid-electric articulated buses, to make a total of six in the entire fleet. The articulated buses allow Mountain Line to move twice as many riders (as compared to a standard bus) with only one driver, creating operational efficiencies and increased capacity. With the addition of the articulated buses, Route 10 ridership increased 48 percent over the previous year.
“Mountain Line is committed to finding innovative solutions to issues and seeking out grant funding to leverage the local tax dollars,” said Flagstaff City Councilmember and NAIPTA Board Chair Scott Overton.
In addition to serving more people than ever before Mountain Line is also experiencing an uptick in rider satisfaction levels. The biennial Rider Satisfaction Survey, last conducted in April 2018, revealed an overall satisfaction level of 4.5, on a five-point scale. Bus driver courtesy and safety and security both onboard the bus and at stops were two areas that grew significantly since the last survey.
NAIPTA is the transit agency in northern Arizona operating the Mountain Line, Mountain Lift and Mountain Link systems in Flagstaff. NAIPTA also coordinates services with Campus Shuttle Service at Northern Arizona University.