Bus ridership goes down in SCV, but stats reflect changing commuter populace

Busses leaving the McBean Reagional Transit Center on the corner of McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard in Valencia. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Santa Clarita bus ridership has decreased slightly in recent years, which city authorities say reflects a changing demographic.

In 2015, the local bus ridership was 2.68 million and decreased 9 percent in 2016 to 2.44 million people. From 2016 to 2017, it decreased 8 percent to 2.25 million people.

“We’ve seen an overall decrease in ridership that Metro’s been struggling with throughout the region,” said city Transit Manager Adrian Aguilar.

Aguilar said there are changing demographics within those breakdowns. Among them: More people commute into Santa Clarita for work now, whereas before many went out into Los Angeles.  

In April 2017, ridership was at 225,786, and in April 2018, it was 224,739. The decrease between the corresponding months of 2017 and 2018 has been consistent, except for in July. In July 2017, ridership was at 179,667, but increased to 181,926 in 2018.

“A lot of little things add together to create a larger impact, too,” Aguilar said. “We’ve seen student enrollment level off, which has been a part of our ridership base. And also the popularity of Uber and Lyft, as well as big travel patterns in terms of commuting for work. Those things have changed significantly in the past few years.

“But that’s a big part of our new transportation development plan,” he added. “To take a look at what future demand and development will do for transit, and how to reshape the services we’re providing.”

Aguilar said the transit is typically more popular in March and October, as people return from vacations or get ready for vacations.

“We usually see a drop when school lets out, and it increases as it comes back up,” he said.

The city recently partnered with College of the Canyons to offer students subsidized $20 bus passes. Aguilar said they have sold 34 semester passes since Aug. 22, which accounted for 225 local trips and 34 commuter trips.

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