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San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Target: 772,103 average weekday boardings
Status: Needs Improvement

Result: 531,130 average weekday boardings

Average weekday boardings is a key measure for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to monitor the number of passengers carried on the Muni system. Aside from helping the SFMTA monitor the effectiveness of transit service, ridership represents congestion relief and is an important metric in the City’s progress toward better air quality and a healthier city. Ridership is also an indicator of citywide and regional economic activity, as well as accessibility to residents and visitors.


Note: Monthly figures are estimates that are typically revised at the end of the fiscal year.


As shown in the chart above, ridership is highly seasonal. School schedules, work patterns, and holidays all contribute to the seasonality of ridership patterns, which tend to be highest in the Fall and Spring and lowest in the Winter. Ridership is also responsive to transit fares, levels of service, and the overall economic climate.


The City Charter’s Transit First Policy directs the City to prioritize public transit in its management of the transportation system, and ridership is one of the primary transit performance metrics. If San Francisco offers safe, reliable, and effective Muni service, then more people are likely to choose to take transit.

While many factors influence ridership, changes in ridership are at least in part a reflection of the effectiveness of transit improvement projects. Service modifications and transit priority capital improvements, such as those delivered under the agency’s Muni Forward program, improve Muni’s travel time and reliability, making public transit a more attractive transportation option. The multimodal nature of San Francisco’s transportation system also means that Vision Zero improvements that make the street safer for those walking and bicycling may also lead to increases in transit ridership, as many people use these modes to connect to transit. In fiscal year 2017-18, the agency will also launch a Transportation Management Center (TMC) that will use new technologies, strategies, and procedures to more actively manage Muni service and San Francisco’s transportation system. The TMC will be a significant technological upgrade for the agency, with modern service management and communications technology that will drive improvements in system performance and communications with employees and customers.


Over fiscal years 2012 to 2016, ridership increased by 10 million riders (4.6 percent), with half of that increase occurring just from fiscal years 2013 to 2014. According to national data, almost every major metro area in the United States saw a decline in transit ridership from 2015 to 2016. Over fiscal years 2015 to 2016, Muni’s ridership increased by 1.3 percent, just slightly higher than the average annual growth rate over the previous three years. From fiscal year 2016 to 2017, there was a 2.8 percent decrease.

How Performance is Measured

A boarding, which is also referred to as an unlinked trip, refers to one customer riding one transit vehicle. If a customer transfers between routes while their trip is in progress, two boardings will be counted. Average weekday boardings allows for a direct comparison to other months and years, regardless of the total number of weekdays in a month. Additionally, total annual boardings refer to the total boardings that occur over the course of the year. This metric accounts for the total number of weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the year (including holidays during which Muni provides Saturday or Sunday service), and provides a more comprehensive picture of an entire year. Both ridership metrics reflect trips taken on all five modes: trolley (electric) buses, hybrid (motor) buses, light rail, motor coach, and cable car.

Monthly figures are estimates based primarily on automatic passenger counter data, faregate information, revenue collected, and peak load measurements (in-person counts conducted at the busiest stop along each route). Ridership data is collected over the course of the year. Figures are finalized at the end of each fiscal year, which typically includes revising monthly numbers due to data collection schedules.

The number displayed on the scorecard page represents represents the most recent data from the first chart above.

Additional Information


Please visit DataSF for the scorecard data.