On a typical weekday in 2016, Bay Area residents boarded buses, trains and ferries approximately 1.8 million times. While ridership has surpassed pre-recession levels – growing robustly for the fifth consecutive year – the region is still just shy of its modern historic peak of weekday boardings, which was reached in 2001. On a per-capita basis, transit use is well below the levels of the early 1990s. The average resident boarded transit 79 times per year in 1991, while in 2016, this had fallen to 70 trips per year – an 11 percent decline over 25 years.
Short- and long-term ridership trends indicate an ongoing shift in transit demand away from local bus services and toward regional rail systems. While ridership on rail systems has grown steadily over the decades, bus ridership has dropped significantly. On a per-capita basis, ridership on Bay Area buses has fallen by one-third since 1991. Given that the majority of Bay Area transit trips take place on buses – rather than trains – this has played a major role in the overall per-capita decline in regional transit use.