Transit Journal

Over the course of the last month, I embarked on a challenge to keep my own personal “Transit Journal.”

In this “Transit Journal,” I kept record of a multitude of things. The primary focus of this was to keep a record of my bus rides so I could determine the exact value of what my transit pass was actually worth to me personally. Along with tracking my origin/destination points, I also kept track of:

  • Routes
  • Buses
  • Fare Value

Since Ben Franklin Transit doesn’t operate transit service on Sundays here in the Tri-Cities, I was left with 26 days over the course of the 30-day month to keep track of all this data. After going over all the data I compiled, a lot of the results came as no shock, but there were a few surprises in it.

Routes
When I first started recording my trips, I fully expected that Route 41 would show up as the route I use most frequently. Seeing as how it’s the only bus route that passes within shouting distance of my house, it wasn’t a far-fetched assumption. However, for the month of April, Route 41 was not the route that I use most frequently. Instead, it was Route 47, which I had predicted to be next of the list. In the case of Route 47, the Kennewick Library on Union Street is the big trip generator for me. Many of my trips on Route 47 also happened to be linked with a transfer from Route 41, and vice versa. Between the two routes, they accounted for 108 (67%) of the 161 different bus rides I took.

Routes

4/1 – 4/6

4/8 – 4/13

4/15 – 4/20

4/22 – 4/27

4/29 – 4/30

Total

23 1 1
25 1 1
26 2 1 3
27 0
39H 1 1
39K 1 2 1 4
41 11 12 10 15 4 52
42 3 1 1 1 6
47 17 12 14 13 2 56
48 1 1 2
50 0
60 0
62 0
64 0
65 0
66 0
67 1 1
110 1 1
120 5 2 3 10 3 23
160 3 2 2 5 12
170 0
225 5 5

Buses
In the BFT fleet, there are 3 different types of buses: The Gillig Phantom and Low Floor, and the Optima Opus. In the case of the Gillig Phantoms, all the current units have been bought used from three different agencies in Western Washington (C-Tran, Mason Transit, and Sound Transit). At the beginning of the month, I figured that the data would show that I spent the most time riding my least favorite vehicle type – The Optima Opus. (It’s easier to understand if you’ve ever been on board one of these buses.) The final numbers showed that this in fact was the case, though the tally between the Optima Opus and the Gillig Low Floor, the second-most frequent bus I rode, was much closer than I expected.

Buses

4/1 – 4/6

4/8 – 4/13

4/15 – 4/20

4/22 – 4/27

4/29 – 4/30

Total

Low Floor 10 15 12 25 9 71
Optima Opus 24 13 16 18 3 74
Phantom (C-Tran) 1 1 1 3
Phantom (Mason Transit) 1 1
Phantom (Sound Transit) 4 9 1 14

Further broken down, I noted that of the 69 buses currently in BFT’s fixed-route fleet, I rode on 37 of them. For the most part, I only recorded 1-3 rides on each bus, but there were four particular buses that accounted for 53% of my rides.

  • 247 – This bus, a Gillig Low Floor, spent all month running on a Route 41/42 interline. As I mentioned earlier, Route 41 is the closest route to my home, so I ended up riding on #247 24 times.
  • 501 – This bus, an Optima Opus, was a regular sight during AM/PM peak service on Route 41. I rode this bus in the PM peak more often then the AM peak, for a total of 15 times on #501.
  • 504 – This bus, an Optima Opus, was actually an intentional dispatch requested by an operator running on a Route 47/48 interline. Most operators at BFT don’t like the Opus, but this operator does for some reason. I also rode this bus with another operator running the same interline before being relieved by the operator requesting this dispatch, and ended up riding on #504 21 times.
  • 506 – This bus, an Optima Opus, was a dispatch on PM peak service for a Route 47/48 interline. (It also gets put in service during AM peak, but I never saw where.) I caught this bus quite a few times on trips to and from the library, and except for a few times it was always being run by the same operator. This also happened to be the bus I rode the most times in the month, for a grand total of 26 rides on #506.

Fare Value
Finally, the last data point that I kept track of was the “Fare Value,” which was the whole point of doing this. For a monthly adult pass, BFT charges $25. (Valid for fixed-route service only.) If I had decided not to buy a monthly pass, I also had the option of buying a 10-ride ticket for $12. The final option would have been cash fares, which is what I used to compare the actual value of my pass. BFT charges $1.50 for an adult fare, and by request passengers can get a transfer ticket that allows for free transfers to other buses for 1.5 hours from the time of issuance. Before I started recording my “Transit Journal,” I knew that the cost of the pass would be cheaper than paying cash fares as long as I rode the bus at least once daily. Broken down by a daily value (regardless of how many times I rode), the pass cost me just $0.96 each day. If I rode enough to pay at least two fares a day, I would theoretically be making back $2.12 on my investment in the pass. As you can see below, I got quite a bit back on my investment. I should also note that with the cash value comparison, I am not accounting for a Day Pass ($4, cheaper if daily riding requires at least 3 cash fares) to keep the calculations simple.

Day

Trips

Cost in Cash Fares ($/#)

Weekly Total Trips

Weekly Total Cash ($/#)

1 7 $4.50 (3)
2 7 $4.50 (3)
3 11 $6 (4)
4 3 $3 (2)
5 4 $3 (2)
6 8 $6 (4)
40 $27 (18)
8 5 $3 (2)
9 4 $3 (2)
10 7 $6 (4)
11 4 $3 (2)
12 4 $3 (2)
13 4 $3 (2)
26 $24 (16)
15 3 $3 (2)
16 4 $3 (2)
17 4 $3 (2)
18 7 $6 (4)
19 5 $3 (2)
20 6 $4.50 (3)
29 $22.50 (15)
22 12 $6 (4)
23 10 $6 (4)
24 11 $6 (4)
25 6 $3 (2)
26 6 $3 (2)
27 8 $4.50 (3)
53 $28.50 (19)
29 4 $3 (2)
30 9 $3 (2)
13 $6 (4)
Grand Total 161 $108 (72)

Conclusion
The simple conclusion drawn from the “Transit Journal” project? A bus pass is worth it.

Having done this now, I want to issue a challenge to all my readers and fellow transit riders: Try doing your own transit journal. While I would recommend accumulating a month’s worth of data (or do it from the start to end of a rolling transit pass), even doing it for a week can still yield a lot of data. It can be interesting to see what your riding habits are and just how you really use transit, something that we usually don’t give a whole lot of thought to.

If you do decide to try keeping a “Transit Journal,” feel free to let me know and keep me updated via a comment below or through Twitter by tweeting @ziggzagzac!

Advertisements


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s