Monday, March 6, 2017

How good are SunRail ridership stats?

In a post on the Facebook page, rider Mark Smith raised very serious questions regarding the validity of passenger count information from SunRail. The numbers are frequently disappointingly low. What if the ridership stats are wrong?
Hardworking SunRail conductor
Smith wrote: “I'm concerned that the numbers just aren't accurate. I've taken SunRail for special events, including yesterday, and no one checks anything. I'm referring to SunRail staff. No one checks my ticket or even pays any attention. Even on a normal day no one checks my ticket so how do they really know who actually rides? I see lots of people not tapping on or off and there were no ambassadors to help. Again, I just wonder how SunRail thinks the numbers are accurate.”
We’ve previously asked FDOT how they come up with the numbers. They told us that they rely on a head count provided by the conductor. FDOT says they run an audit that shows the conductor count is 90 percent accurate.
In the high-tech 21st Century that seems, sort of….well, loose.
What if we’ve been getting low ball ridership numbers?
Now we certainly don’t mean to rat out the conductors because they work very hard. It’s got to be difficult for them to open the train doors, handle their safety responsibilities, answer rider questions, count heads and check tickets. Some stations along the route are only a few minutes apart when doors have to be opened.
On Tri-Rail -- SunRail’s older sister commuter train that serves south Florida -- the conductor focuses on train operations and the tickets are checked by the armed guard who rides on every train.
That guard solution probably is not financially feasible for SunRail at this time, but click here for details on technology that would make the conductor’s job a little easier and increase the confidence and accuracy of the ridership numbers.

Meanwhile we’ll ask FDOT again why they think their ridership numbers are accurate.

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