Lower gasoline prices, ride-sharing mean lower bus ridership, revenues for RTC

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Regional Transportation Commission buses travel downtown. Riidership and revenues, especially along the Strip, were down in fiscal year 2017 compared to fiscal year 2016, RTC officials said Thursday.

Sat, Aug 12, 2017 (2 a.m.)

Mass transit is seeing the effects of ride-sharing companies in Southern Nevada, according to new statistics from the Regional Transportation Commission.

Ridership and revenues, especially along the Strip, were down in fiscal year 2017 compared to fiscal year 2016, RTC officials said Thursday.

Fixed-route ridership was down 10.3 percent along the Strip, dropping from 14.29 million riders in 2016 to 12.82 million riders this year. General market ridership fell .5 percent, going from 51.39 million in 2016 to 51.14 million in 2017. Overall, ridership was down 2.6 percent valley-wide, falling from 65.68 million riders in 2016 to 63.96 million in 2017.

“It is worth noting that nationally ridership has decreased by about 4 percent with lower gas prices and new competition, with ride-sharing companies being the main contributors,” said M.J. Maynard, RTC deputy general manager.

Total revenue dropped 3.58 percent, going from $69.88 million in 2016 to $67.38 million in 2017. Fixed-route revenue decreased 11.95 percent in the resort corridor, going from $22.97 million in 2016 to $20.23 million in 2017. General market revenue increased .5 percent, going from $46.9 million in 2016 to $47.14 million in 2017.

Despite the lower ridership, the RTC saw an increase of riders who had either a bicycle or a wheelchair.

“On average, we carry about 50,000 bikes and 30,000 wheelchairs on our system,” Maynard said.

Those numbers represent a 1.6 percent jump in bikes and a 6.7 percent increase in wheelchair ridership from last year..

Because of increased service hours implemented in the last year, fixed-route miles traveled increased 5 percent in 2017, rising to 20.74 million miles from 19.79 million miles in 2016.

The RTC also measures how often buses are on time, within the five-minute standard the agency has in place. Buses arrived at their stop within that mark 86.8 percent of the time, a slight bump from the 86.6 percent rate seen in 2016.

“Considering the amount of detours, special events and construction, the drivers do a great job in adhering to that five-minute standard,” Maynard said.

Despite the increased hours and miles traveled by RTC fleet, the number of road service calls dropped significantly.

Total fixed-route road calls fell 34 percent between 2016 and 2107, going from 1,295 last fiscal year to 853 this fiscal year. The amount of summer heat-related shutdowns went from 628 in 2016 to 426 this year, representing a 32 percent decrease.

“We attribute that to a very aggressive fleet-replacement program and working very closely with our fixed-route contractors,” Maynard said.

Additionally, fixed-route customer service calls fell 12.04 percent, going from 339,113 in fiscal year 2016, to 298,299 in fiscal year 2017, Maynard said.

“The majority of calls that came into our call center tend to be about ‘Where's my bus? (and) ‘When will my bus arrive’,” she said. “With the addition of our mobile app, they are able to find their bus in real time, which really reduces the need for folks to call into our call center.”

RTC has 3,412 bus stops in the valley; 1,600 have shelter and of those, 1,136 are behind the sidewalk.

To date we have spent just over $18 million to move those shelters back,” Maynard said. “That’s fully subsidized by federal grants.”

Advertisements on bus stops that pay for the maintenance of the bus stops generated $3.82 million in 2017, a 2.27 percent increase over 2016’s $3.73 million.

Maynard said that the RTC recently completed a project to add Wi-Fi to all its fixed-route vehicles and is averaging 8,900 unique connections per day.

RTC also saw its Ride RTC app, which launched in September, downloaded 68,000 times, with more than 100,000 passes sold through the app.

“It’s been really exciting for us to see the quick adoption of our riders to our technology,” Maynard said.

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