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NoVa Bus Ridership Drop Mirrors National Trend; Answers Sought

NoVa Bus Ridership Drop Mirrors National Trend; Answers Sought

Bus ridership is down in the United States but a definitive explanation is hard to come by, according to a panel convened by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in July. reports that bus trips have fallen nationwide from 5.86 billion in 2002, a peak year, to 5.11 billion last year, and dropped almost 3 percent from 2014 to 2015.

During the same period, all NoVa bus systems experienced declines except DASH and Loudoun County Transit. When combined, trips on NoVa’s seven bus systems dropped about 3 percent from 2014 to 2015, in keeping with the national trend.

Sixty percent of WMATA bus and rail customers cited these reasons for riding less:

  • lack of service reliability
  • lack of sense of safety
  • value of service for price paid
  • less traffic congestion

Panelists cited other possible factors:

  • shifting demographics
  • changing land use patterns
  • availability of alternative modes
  • increased teleworking
  • fare increases

NVTC will continue to work with WMATA and NoVa bus systems to explore the reasons underpinning the drop in ridership and find solutions that can be implemented at the local and regional levels.

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