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Light rail ridership patterns

November 16, 2012

After half a year of riding my bike and taking light rail to work there are noticeable patterns on the northern part of the Mountain View-Winchester VTA line. First, there appear to be at least three clear clusters of riders. One group travels between Mountain View and Lockheed Martin or Yahoo! and tends to be somewhat older. A second group is much younger and travels between Fair Oaks (where there’s a concentration of condos and apartments) and Cisco (or at least the Tasman light rail stop; they may be transferring to an Alum Rock train). And the last group gets on/off at Tasman, and I have no idea where they go (presumably nearer to downtown than I get). I find it interesting that the groups are so distinguishable; I would’ve expected more blending across them.

The second pattern is around bike riders on light rail. I was expecting the number of bikers to drop noticeably when daylight savings time kicked in, but actually ridership has stayed relatively steady (despite the fact that some bikers do not appear to have lights on their bikes; those folks are nuts). I’m still waiting to see what happens when it gets significantly colder, but even some mornings in the 40s haven’t appeared to deter folks. I’m assuming ridership does decline drastically when it rains, but I can’t verify since I don’t bike when it rains either.

I have noticed two ways the changing weather has impacted riders, however. On days when it’s noticeably warmer (e.g., low 70s) this fall I’ve seen more riders, individuals that are noticeably separate from the usual folks that I see most days. Surprisingly (to me at least), I’ve also noticed that some colder mornings also draw riders apart from the usual crowd (and also different from the warm weather crowd). My working theory is that these folks prefer biking on colder mornings because they’re less likely to get sweaty biking into work, but I haven’t actually asked any of them yet.

Overall I’ve been pleasantly surprised how many bikers are sticking with it even after the time change. I’ll confess that I was a bit leery about biking home in the dark, but most roads are pretty well lit and drivers remain pretty polite to bicyclists. So I’m sticking with it too (although it remains to be seen if I wimp out when the temperature drops another 15-20 degrees).

From → Musings

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