MBTA ridership down in 2013, but fare revenue higher than expected

MBTA ridership is down in 2013. PHOTO: NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
MBTA ridership is down so far in 2013. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

MBTA ridership has declined over the last 10 months, with ridership dropping more steeply so far in 2013, according to numbers released by T officials.

From last July, when fare increases went into effect, ridership is down 1.9 percent down compared with the same period of fiscal year 2012, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said Wednesday.

Weekday ridership for April decreased by 3.5 percent from April 2012, and averaged 1.32 million passenger trips per weekday last month.

But it’s not all bad news for the T: Revenues were up 22.2 percent in March compared with the same time period last year, and were up by 20.5 percent in April.

“Fare revenue has exceeded expectations because the anticipated decline in post-fare increase ridership has been much less than analysts projected,” Pesaturo said.

As a result, the T is projecting a surplus of $16.6 million in its fiscal year 2013 operating budget.

July’s fare changes followed a $49 million state bailout, and also came with steeper increases for seniors. Ridership initially rose slightly after the fare hikes, as Metro reported, but then wavered and has been down since December.

Since December 2012, ridership has been down a monthly average of 2.9 percent compared to the year prior, according to the data.

A dip of 3.5 percent in April was due in part to the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, Pesaturo said, as well as the April 19 manhunt and the related public transit shutdown and temporary station closures.

“Ridership fell significantly in the immediate days following the bombings, and of course, service was shut down completely for almost 14 hours on April 19th,” Pesaturo said.

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