While bus usage nationwide rose in 2008 and then declined thereafter, growth in ridership of HRT buses continued through 2010.
U.S. bus ridership rose 3.8% in 2008, then declined 4.5% in 2009 and fell even further in 2010. This rise and fall in bus usage has been attributed to the rise in gas prices in 2008 and the fall in gas prices in 2009. The ridership of HRT buses also rose in 2008, but—unlike that of the U.S.—HRT ridership continued to rise in 2009 and 2010. Usage of HRT’s system of fixed-route buses, which serve both Southside and Peninsula cities, increased 2.7% in 2008, 0.2% in 2009, and 1.1% in 2010.
In order to more accurately examine the propensity to use buses in Hampton Roads, HRTPO staff has accounted for the statistical distortions caused by changes in the number of routes in HRT’s system over time by examining a subset of 48 routes which existed throughout the analysis period (2005 through 2010). This subset carries approximately 85% of HRT’s riders. The growth in this subset of the same 48 routes—2.8% in 2008, 3.0% in 2009,and 3.3% in 2010—has been even more impressive than that of the system as a whole, reflecting a significantly higher desire to ride the bus in Hampton Roads. Although one could attribute, at least in part, the HRT ridership increase in 2009 to the institution of all-day passes in late 2008, finding a likely cause for the 2010 HRT increase—in light of the 2010 U.S. decrease—is difficult.