Beginning next week, Caltrain will conduct its annual onboard count of riders, both seated and standing. With an estimated 60,000 riders on an average weekday during peak ridership months, Caltrain is setting historic ridership records month after month. The count will provide critical information for planning future service improvements, allocating limited resources and validating ridership estimates based on ticket sales.
The annual count starts on Tuesday, Jan. 19, and will end in early to mid-March. Typically the count ends sometime in February but due to Super Bowl 50 activities and anticipated heavier ridership on public transit as a result, counts will be suspended for 10 days to avoid skewing the results.
The physical head count of riders is conducted this time of year because there are typically fewer holidays and special events that could affect ridership numbers. And, by conducting the count at the same time each year, comparisons from one year to the next are more accurate.
Weekdays, every rider on every train is counted for one week and averaged over five days. Weekends, riders on every train are counted for over a single weekend. The number of bike boardings and the number of bike riders not able to board the train due to overcrowding also will continue to be counted.
Average weekday ridership has more than doubled since 1997, when it was 24,597, compared to 2015, when it was 58,429. Caltrain typically sees its heaviest ridership months in the summer and lasting through fall. Last year was no exception, with ridership data breaking 60,000 average weekday riders multiple times over that period. The annual ridership count will confirm whether those trends are accurate and help the agency make projections for 2017.
In addition to an overall count of riders, the data is used to determine such things as the most popular stations and the most popular trains in the Caltrain system.
Results of the 2016 passenger count will be released after the data has been analyzed. The results of previous counts are posted on the Caltrain website: www.caltrain.com/ridership.
Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain has enjoyed more than five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 60,000 average weekday riders earlier this year. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the corridor, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.