Ridership on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System continues to increase as the impact of the pandemic eases, the agency announced this week.
The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) reported that ridership exceeds five million trips since March 2022, with an increase in ridership by 52 percent for Trolley and 41 percent for bus when compared to last year. Although ridership is increasing, the agency is currently operating at about 75% of pre-pandemic levels.
“MTS worked to maintain service levels as much as possible throughout the pandemic, and we’ve seen encouraging gains in 2022,” the agency wrote in a statement.
Ridership increased every month since April 2021 compared to the previous year. Officials noted an exception to January 2022 when Omicron surged through the country and delayed school reopening.
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.
Out of 98 existing bus routes in the system, 91 saw an increase in ridership. Specifically, the Rapid 201/202/204 routes saw a 300 percent jump in ridership as UC San Diego Students and staff returned in person.
The same kinds of results were seen with Rapid 280 and 290, which offer direct services from Escondido and Rancho Bernardo to downtown San Diego. The agency reported ridership increased by 98 percent on Route 280 and 177 percent on Route 290.
Even Route 974, the Sorrento Valley COASTER Connection to UCSD, saw an increase of approximately 403 percent in ridership. Some additional routes that had a significant increase in ridership were Route 8 by 88 percent, Route 27 by 94 percent, and Route 41 by 117 percent.
“We’re encouraged to see weekday ridership more consistently hitting above 200,000-weekday trips, which is a good benchmark for our ridership recovery efforts,” MTS wrote in a statement.
The largest increase in Trolley ridership was seen on the UC San Diego Blue Line, which went up by 66%, jumping from 10.4 million rides the prior fiscal year to 17.4 million, the agency reported. Officials noted the inauguration of an 11-mile Mid-Coast Trolley extension to UTC in November 2021 allowed for the largest increase in ridership in one year for any line in the history of MTS.
The agency also launched the Youth Opportunity Pass Pilot Program alongside the North County Transit District (NCTD), and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) in May 2022. The Youth Opportunity Pass Pilot Program allows youth 18 and under to ride public transportation for free. The Youth Bus Rudership jumped 34 percent in the first month of free transit and remained high in June.