For Immediate Release
6 August 2018
Bus Ridership Is Up in Monterey County, Bucks the National Trend, But Cuts to Local Bus Service May Be Necessary Just After The Holidays
After five years of steady growth, Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) has recorded its highest year of ridership since 2008.
This stands in contrast to the national trend. According to the American Public Transportation Association, bus ridership in California and across the country has been declining incrementally in recent years. Possible reasons fewer people are riding public transit may be cheap gas prices, extraordinarily affordable car loans, and new ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber.
So what has MST done differently to grow its ridership in the current transportation climate?
According to General Manager/CEO Carl Sedoryk, MST’s ridership gains are, “a direct result of fare reductions for veterans, seniors, and persons with disabilities; free fare weekend promotions, supported by special grant funds from the State of California; and growing partnerships with local military bases.” Hartnell College, California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), the City of Monterey, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are additional partners which collaborate to promote free or deeply discounted transit services like the MST Trolley.
MST partners with the military (U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey Bay, Naval Postgraduate School, Fort Hunter Liggett, and Camp Roberts) to provide transit service from off-base housing communities to military installations. This partnership also funds routes that are open to the public throughout Monterey County. In addition, these partnerships fund bus passes to eligible Department of Defense employees and active duty personnel.
MST continues to provide free rides to students, faculty, and staff of CSUMB. MST maintains partnerships with the City of Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium that fund the MST Trolley, popular with visitors and residents, and the Free to Learn program that brings students and families from disadvantaged communities to education programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The scope of services MST provides also keeps ridership growing. In addition to regular fixed-route service, MST offers demand-response services. Funded by Measure Q, MST’s RIDES and Taxi Voucher programs are a lifeline for seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans.
Preliminary ridership numbers for all MST services totaled 4,558,902 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018. This represents the fifth year in a row of MST’s stable and growing ridership.
“The steady growth in MST passenger boardings over the past five years demonstrates the continued need for transportation alternatives in our region, and I am proud that the MST Board of Directors and MST employees continue to find creative ways to meet this growing demand by delivering safe, dependable mobility services,” said MST Board Chair and King City Mayor Mike LeBarre.
Sedoryk added, “It is ironic that while demand for our services is at a ten-year high, MST must plan for reducing the amount of services we currently offer due to the potential loss of transportation funding posed by current efforts to eliminate state dollars throughout California for bridges, roads, and public transportation.”