It’s been a long road to win riders back to transit after the pandemic depleted transit ridership, but ridership on VTA buses and trains continues to grow as we head into 2023. Bus ridership, which is the lion's share of our transit riders, is now at 76% of what it was before the COVID pandemic.
We look forward to better serving riders who have been with us all along, and welcoming new riders onboard as we work to improve bus and rail frequency and reliability in the new year.
VTA ridership has grown slowly but steadily since the early pandemic when we were carrying just 20% of our typical riders, as you can see in the chart of ridership on our system every day since March 2020. This year, ridership has been very strong for VTA, growing by 50% since the start of 2022.
Despite typically slower local transit travel patterns around the Thanksgiving holiday, ridership remained very good this November. On a typical weekday this fall, nearly 77,000 passengers boarded our buses and trains. Ridership levels will probably fall a bit during the winter holiday season as they always do, then grow again as we transition into the 2023 spring school term.
But as more passengers return to public transit, we acknowledge some of the difficulties they may have with periodic service interruptions due to a shortage of operators. Our plan to restore the last pieces of service to bring us to full service in 2023 will only be achieved as we hire new bus and rail operators.
This year we launched a massive effort to recruit new operators with ads on TV, online, and in print media. We will continue aggressive recruitment until we have reached our goal. In fact, 24 new operators just graduated from our training program and they will be hitting the road on Monday.
As we look to 2023, we’re working on improving service frequency and reliability to earn riders back to our buses and trains, and regain trust in our service.