Saturday, February 13, 2016

SEPTA: Ridership dip last 12 months due to harsh winter, fare hike

Ed Touhy, of Fox Chase, stands alone at the ticket counter in Suburban Station and buys a transpass in order to get home by bus last month. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)

SEPTA ridership in the last 12 months fell 2 percent, or roughly 7 million trips, compared to the previous year, and the transit agency cited a very harsh winter and a fare increase as reasons for the dip.

Despite the drop in system-wide riders from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, SEPTA boasted of continued gains in its Regional Rail trips. The 36.7 million trips set a new fiscal year record, a 1.8 percent increase over the same 12-month period in 2012 and 2013.

"Regional Rail ridership is a significant part of the upward trend on all SEPTA modes of travel in recent years. System-wide, total annual trips are up by approximately 40 million since 2006," SEPTA said in a press release.

The 330 million trips across the entire transit system — which include buses, trolleys, subways and trains — marked the fifth-highest total since 1989, the agency said. The high mark in the last 23 years was 339.3 million trips in 2012.

In its full report on ridership in fiscal year 2013-2014 released Wednesday, SEPTA said the some factors behind the slight dip were predicted — or caused unexpectedly by Mother Nature.

"A slight ridership decrease was forecasted with implementation of a fare increase at the start of the fiscal year. However, unexpected was the harsh winter weather which closed Philadelphia public schools for eight days and resulted in a 6% and 8% ridership loss during the months of January and February," the report said.

A SEPTA spokesman said in an email that agency officials believe ridership would have been closer to the previous year's mark if not for those two winter months' large drops, which accounted for roughly 3.6 million less trips. Total trips were down in 10 of 12 months, though between less than 1 percent and 3 percent in all but January, February and April. A 6 percent decline in April was attributed to college spring breaks falling in that month for 2013 versus March 2012.

Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; Follow @phillynews on Twitter.
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