It’s that time of the month, Milwaukee: the time when ridership numbers for the city’s still-controversial streetcar system, The Hop, are released, analyzed, and argued about. And, continuing a trend that started the spring, the numbers are good! According to automatic passenger counters located in the streetcars’ doors, a record-setting 103,625 rides were taken in July. Average daily ridership came in at a record-setting 3,343. The system’s single biggest day (ever) was July 13, with 8,968 rides being logged.
Pre-launch, the streetcar projected an average daily ridership of 1,850.
So, um, people are riding the thing. A lot of people are riding the thing. Sure, nice weather and plenty of downtown festivals are helping boost the numbers, but no shit.
Here’s are the ridership numbers so far. See if you can spot a trend:
Total rides: 80,361
Average daily ridership: (excluding opening weekend): 2,459
Total rides: 76,131
Average daily ridership: 2,456
Total rides: 48,354
Average daily ridership: 1,560
FEBRUARY 2019 (estimated, due to missing data)
Total rides: 45,000
Average daily ridership: 1,607
MARCH 2019 (estimated, due to missing data)
Total rides: 50,000
Average daily ridership: 1,613
Total rides: 55,657
Average daily ridership: 1,855
Total rides: 62,937
Average daily ridership: 2,030
Total rides: 71,367
Average daily ridership: 2,379
Total rides: 103,625
Average daily ridership: 3,343
UPDATE (8/13/19): For everyone asking, here’s this from The Hop’s website (emphasis ours):
The Hop streetcars are equipped with Automatic Passenger Counter (APC) equipment to record actual boarding data. Each door on the vehicle is equipped with three sensors that emit a beam of infrared light. Each time the beam is broken the APC system records it as a passenger. The three sensors are spaced so that the order in which the beams are broken determines if a passenger is boarding or exiting—only the boarding totals are included in the final ridership counts. APC systems are becoming standard equipment in the transit industry.
To be sure, there are plenty of iffy things about the streetcar: its in-limbo extension and funding plans, its projected ridership drop if/when it isn’t free, and the fact that no one other than Potawatomi has stepped up to sponsor the thing. Therefore, here’s our oft-reprinted starter pack of the usual talking points/complaints you’ll encounter (or employ) when someone mentions that a lot of people are riding the streetcar:
• “Yeah, but check back when the novelty wears off!”
• “Yeah, but check back when it isn’t free!”
• “Yeah, but check back when it’s 30 below for six straight months and there’s nine feet of snow on the ground and thing costs $74 a ride!”
• [that meme of Mayor Barrett saying “A trolley will fix this”]