Amtran ridership goes down in recent months

Amtran ridership has shrunk during sporadic recent months, compared to the same months in recent fiscal years, and General Manager Eric Wolf doesn’t know why.

Fixed-route ridership has run along nearly the same track from month-to-month during those recent years, but dipped noticeably in October and December of the current fiscal year, in a way that shows up as a wrong turn on a line graph of ridership.

Ridership also registered low in February and March.

Such dips have been a statewide phenomenon, Wolf told Amtran board members at a meeting Wednesday.

“It’s weird,” he said. “It’s not like we’re cutting service.”

When Amtran officials first saw the deviations, they thought it reflected a glitch in the technology that counts riders.

They have almost ruled that out, Wolf said.

Board member Bob Reifsteck suggested the ridership reduction might reflect shifting employment levels.

That’s a possibility, Wolf said.

The dips might also reflect variations in the number of Penn State students riding the bus, he acknowledged.

Penn State students riding the bus to and from the downtown campus has provided an increasingly significant share of Amtran’s overall ridership, according to Wolf.

The multi-year ridership graph shows that month-to-month variation is the norm.

The last three years, there were about 32,000 trips in July, followed by a steady climb to 55,000 in October — except that for the current fiscal year, the graph climbed only to about 48,000 for that month.

The multi-year graph shows that for December, 45,000 is the norm.

For the current fiscal year, ridership fell to 39,000 for December. The graph outlines for the current fiscal year for February and March followed the trajectory of the previous two years, but at a level that is a few thousand trips lower.