Standing Room Only

Portland Streetcar does a ridership sample each quarter. We were all a bit overwhelmed when the summer counts came back and said we had 7800 riders each weekday.

Hold on to that hanger strap, the fall (Sep-Nov) counts are in and we’re at 9,000 weekday riders. Saturday ridership is down slightly (6,600 down from 7,600 in the summer) and Sunday is holding steady around 3,000.

What to attribute this to? The RiverPlace extension clearly has an impact, demonstrating the n-squared nature of networks. The value of a node in the transportation network varies as the square of the number of nodes (a theory originating in computer networks). Add more nodes and ridership should go up geometrically, not linearly.

There is also a virtuous cycle at work here. We built the Streetcar to enable high density residential development. Now those developments are filling up, generating ridership for the Streetcar…

History suggests the winter counts will go down, but then we’ll come back with more growth in the summer. Next summer will see the opening of the Gibbs extension, triggering the n-squared rule again…

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