Ferry Ridership Analysis to Mid 2010

Editor’s note:  Thank you Nancy Ging for compiling this information, and the heads-up on important issues we want to keep in the forefront of the negotiations……..

Here is a simple analysis of the ridership numbers from Public Works 2007 through June 2010. See attached file.

A significant number of people started walking on (or car pooling) instead of taking their car after the last fare increase. However, the overall ridership was not affected. People made just as many trips to town overall.

This year, though, the poor economy, the uncertainty around the dock lease and the threat of even larger fare increases appears to have finally affected overall ridership. People are making nearly 6% fewer trips to town, especially by car. No revenue can be collected for  trips not made, leaving fewer and fewer trips to bear the burden of the rising cost.

2010 fare revenue will also be skewed downward because drydock fell during peak visitor season. We won’t have revenue from those extra seasonal vehicle trips. We need to keep in mind, when Public Works fare proposals start coming out, that future summer revenues will be larger with normal drydock scheduling.

Overall, since 2007, vehicle traffic appears to be down about 17.5%. That should make Lummi Nation happy, since they wanted us to reduce road traffic.

It’s crucial, in my opinion, that parking be part of the contract currently being negotiated, as Carl Weimer pointed out months ago. We can’t afford to get into the helpless negotiating stance we’re in now when the parking lease expires. An expensive ferry dock lease with no parking available and woefully inadequate bus service is unthinkable. It would force people to take cars across, pushing people into the higher fare brackets (or off the Island, if they can’t afford car fares).

We also need more parking, not less, and it needs to be safer than it is. Since Lummi Nation is very focused on safety, perhaps they could help us with that problem?



One thought on “Ferry Ridership Analysis to Mid 2010

  1. Thanks, Nancy, for your work on this.

    It would be very interesting to know a couple of additional facts: (1) island population in the same years; (2) number of island construction projects.

    This is because:

    1) If the island population increases but ridership doesn’t, that would suggest, on average, fewer ‘trips/resident’ (which is just a convenient metric, as it includes things like visitor cars, small service vehicles, etc.) Maybe islanders haven’t really decreased the number of trips they are taking to town — it’s just that there are more of us, including part-timers.

    2) Islanders know that construction projects, large and small, come with lots of traffic — not just concrete and drywall trucks, but sub-contractors in pickups, utility vehicles etc. It seems plausible that the number of construction projects has decreased between 2007 and now. Therefore, some of the drop in vehicles might not be related to fewer islanders going to & from the mainland, but less construction-related traffic.

    It’s important to thoughtfully consider alternative reasons behind the numbers, not just the numbers.

    I very much hope that Fred Kinney & PLIC will post their analysis on the plicferry.org website ASAP. (We’ll link to it on the Ferry Forum, of course). I don’t really know what that analysis entails as I’ve not attended meetings where Fred reported, but giving the entire community the chance to see their take on things — even if the analysis isn’t as complete as they’d wish — would do Lummi Islanders a genuine service.

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