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And now the numbers: A blog for the data nerds out there  

No study would be complete without finding out our baseline - what’s going on out there currently. This blog post is dedicated to conveying a little bit of information about where people are riding and how they are using the system. Below is information on:
• Trolley Ridership – basic data
• The most common trips taken on our current routes
• The busiest boarding locations
• Rides by day of the week and time of the day
• Passenger profile data

Trolley Ridership – basic data
When we analyze our ridership, we look at the number of people riding and also, an efficiency number of ‘passengers per hour’ – this takes our overall ridership and divides by hours of service. Below shows each route and its ridership and passengers per hour for the past three months.
Chart showing trolley ridership over a three month period by route.
 RIDERSHIP July August September
 Vol Trolley 29,521 33,781 29,442
 Downtown Loop  12,055 11,099 10,172
 Gay Street 16,547 16,718 15,250

The ridership above means that the Vol Line makes up 53% of the overall trolley ridership. Downtown Loop is 19%, Gay Street Line is 28%.

Passenger per hour of trolley routes
 PASSENGERS/HR July August September
Vol Trolley 24.51 29.31 25.54
Downtown Loop 22.14 22.33 20.46
Gay Street 25.57 25.86 23.59

In looking at Passengers per Hour, the Vol Line is still an efficient service despite the longer distance traveled.

Trips taken on our current routes
In September of 2014 we put folks on our trolleys to see where individuals are coming from and going to. This is a more detailed, resource-intensive data gathering than looking at our boarding data that comes from our farebox, since it monitors individual complete trips. Here’s what we found were the most common trips being taken.

Vol Line Trolley
1. The most common trip taken on the Vol Line Trolley is the short but hilly trip from Knoxville Station to Gay Street. However, Vol Line trips are very diverse – this #1 only accounts for 5% of the overall trips being taken.
2. There’s a tie for second place: Cumberland Avenue at Philip Fulmer (UT) to Locust at Clinch (UT Conference Center), and Church Avenue at Gay Street to Knoxville Station. (3.7%)
3. Following as the third highest trip is Krutch Park to University Commons. (3.6%)

Downtown Loop Trolley
1. Knoxville Station to Gay Street. Same as with the Vol Line. (9.7%)
2. Main Street/City County Building to Knoxville Station (6%)
3. Summit Towers to Knoxville Station (5.6%)

Gay Street Trolley
1. Gay Street at Church Avenue to Magnolia Avenue (19%)
2. Gay Street at Depot to Krutch Park Extension (9%)
3. Gay Street at Magnolia to Krutch Park Extension (5.8%)

Busiest Boarding Locations
You can see from the information above that, based on the small percentages of these trips, that our passengers are scattered throughout the routes, with many different origins and destinations. So, now we’ll look at where people are boarding the most – this time we’ll use the top 5 locations.

Vol Line Trolley:
1. The Commons (23%)
2. Knoxville Station Transit Center (8%)
3. Krutch Park (8%)
4. Civic Coliseum Garage (7%)
5. Cumberland at Philip Fullmer (5%)

Downtown Loop:
1. Knoxville Station (25.5%)
2. Civic Coliseum (20.6%)
3. Howard Baker Jr. at the Safety Building (7.9%)
4. Summit Towers (7.2%)
5. Gay Street at Union (7%)

Gay Street:
1. Gay Street at Union Avenue (25%)
2. Gay Street at Depot southbound (19%)
3. Marriott Hotel (15%)
4. Gay Street at Church northbound (8%)
5. Gay Street at Magnolia (7%)

Trolley Ridership by time of day, day of the week
This data might be best expressed in charts – see below by route. This data is taken from a 3-week period in August of this year.
Vol Line Trolley by time of day

Downtown Loop Trolley ridership by time of day

Gay Street Trolley Ridership by Time of Day

Vol Trolley Ridership by Day of the Week

Downtown Loop Trolley Ridership by Day of the Week

Gay Street Trolley Ridership by Day of the Week

And then, just for fun, here’s all that information pulled together for the Vol Line route:

Vol Line Chart - Day of week and time of day


So what is all this telling us? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Based on the fact that our major trips and our major boarding locations make up a small percentage of the overall boardings (with the exception, perhaps, of the Gay Street line), we can conclude that there is pretty consistent usage throughout the routes. In other words, there really aren’t ‘dead zones’ on the current routes.
2. The Vol Line is really being used to connect Civic Coliseum parkers and Knoxville Station patrons to downtown in the mornings (see 8:00 a.m. boardings spike), and is really connecting the UT area with downtown.
3. The Downtown Loop also is being used to connect Civic Coliseum parkers to downtown in the mornings (see 8:00 a.m. boardings spike), and then remains fairly consistent throughout the day.
4. The Gay Street line seems to be predominately used to travel to and from the north end of downtown (Magnolia, Depot, etc.) and downtown.
5. In the last, busier chart, you can see that the Vol Line trolley is being used in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays – while not as heavily used as the daytime, the ridership is significant – it does not disappear after 7pm.

Now I’m going to give you a couple of charts of our passenger profile. This information was gathered from a system-wide on board survey conducted in 2013. A few things to note: this was conducted in 2013 and the work was done Monday – Friday, so no Saturday passengers were profiled. This system-wide survey was primarily focused on our regular, fixed route system so ‘trip purpose’ did not include things that might be more trolley-focused, such as ‘visiting attractions’, etc. Having said that, please keep this in mind when reviewing the information below.

Passenger Trip Purpose

Passengers by age and route

If you’ve made it to the end of this blog, then congratulate yourself! Thanks for sticking with it though all the details. The next blog you’ll see from us will be a summary of what we heard from our online survey, which gathered over 500 responses!  Stay Tuned!
Posted by bbrill On 20 October, 2015 at 10:54 AM  

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