| March 20, 2012 - Since the opening of Knoxville Station back in August of 2010, more people have been riding KAT buses, and that trend continues to climb each month. In February, ridership on the core route system was up 22% over the previous year, and so far this fiscal year, KAT ridership is up a whopping 19%, equating to over 200,000 additional trips taken since July 1, 2011.
The increase in customers using KAT is reflected in farebox and pass sales revenues as well, up 27.8% over the previous fiscal year at this time.
Passengers are riding nearly all routes in larger numbers, according to individual route statistics by month. The Kingston Pike route is up nearly 16% for the fiscal year, and the Sutherland Avenue route is up an explosive 78%.
A number of factors can contribute to ridership increases in transit, according to Cindy McGinnis, KAT's General Manager. Weather is often a factor, so when comparing this mild winter with last year's snowy one, the weather can play a role in the dramatic increases of the past month. Fuel prices are beginning to rise as well, which also contributes to more people looking to transit. However, with ridership up for the past 18 months when compared to the previous year's numbers, it's more than just weather or high gas prices, explains McGinnis.
"I think a big factor in our increase in passengers relates to the opening of Knoxville Station," says McGinnis. "The wonderful facility offers numerous amenities to our customers, and it gives a positive face to transit. Our conveniences such as restrooms, customer service and security, the Station Cafe and even our rotating art exhibits create a place that's appealing to travel through. We now also offer a KUB payment center for convenient bill-paying before you catch your bus."
A second reason for the great response of our customers is our improved route system, updated when the transit center opened," says McGinnis. "The route system was re-timed and has impressive on-time statistics. With reliable schedules, people naturally feel better about hopping on a bus. New vehicles, new vehicle appearance, improved passenger information and upgraded maintenance programs have also added to the positive customer experience."
In fact, recent reports from KAT's new vehicle location and tracking system indicate that buses are on time to Knoxville Station over 93% of the time. A recent survey of passengers confirmed this, with 88% rating the overall bus system either 'Very Good' or 'Good', and 93% rating their bus as 'Always' or 'Usually' on time.
Meanwhile, additional improvements are planned. In July, KAT hopes to unveil its online vehicle location program to the public, wherein passengers can look on a website to see exactly where their bus is along the route before they leave home or the office.