Does gentrification explain why fewer people are riding the No. 2 bus down Sunset?

The No. 2 bus is one of several Metro lines on Sunset Boulevard that pass through Echo Park and Silver Lake, taking riders as far east as Downtown and as far west as the Pacific Ocean.  In recent years, however, ridership on the No. 2 line and across the Metro bus system has declined.  But it seems the No. 2 Line has taken a bigger hit, with estimated weekday ridership in July of this year plunging 35% from the same month in 2009.  It’s not clear what caused the drop, but one reason could be gentrification, says Curbed L.A.

The system-wide drop in bus ridership could be caused by a variety of factors, from slower-moving buses and new rail service to an improved economy that has former riders leaving the bus for private vehicles.  The list of possible reasons, says Curbed,  could also include a sharp rise in housing costs along the “gentrification corridor” that has priced out many bus riders who used to board the No. 2 and other lines. Says Curbed:

“While there has been little dedicated research on this specific phenomena, consider the ridership of the No. 2 bus route, which runs along Sunset Boulevard from Downtown LA, through Echo Park, Silver Lake and Hollywood, to Pacific Palisades. In July of 2009, the Sunset Boulevard bus carried just over 22,000 passengers daily. Last month, the same route carried about 14,300 passengers daily. While other factors might explain the dip in ridership, the fact remains that a bus traveling along a gentrification corridor lost 35 percent of its riders during a period when Metro’s total system lost 15 percent of its riders, Metro data shows.”

The No. 2 bus also faced growing competition from improvements to the Metro Rapid service that also runs along the eastern section of Sunset Boulevard.  However, Metro ridership stats for the other Sunset lines , including the Rapid Bus, also show declines, but not as steep as those of the No. 2.

The agency is now in the process of a 3-year review to restructure its bus lines in the wake of the ridership losses.

If you have been a long-time No. 2 rider, have you noticed fewer passengers riding the bus?

July 2017 Ridership | Source: Metro

July 2016 Ridership | Source: Metro

July 2015 Ridership | Source: Metro

July 2014 Ridership | Source: Metro

July 2013 Ridership | Source: Metro

July 2012 Ridership | Source: Metro

July 2011 Ridership | Source: Metro

July 2010 Ridership | Source: Metro

July 2009 Ridership | Source: Metro

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  1. Well, it is an interesting idea that gentrification has impacted ridership in this area, and certainly would be very logical. However, this is another example of people having no idea how to understand statistics, and how they can be used to manipulate (if wanted).

    For starters, even this story if taking things out of context. This story is giving overly broad weight to one part of the route, this area of gentrification — far less than half the line. Where along the route is the significant drop in ridership? Is it in Brentwood, Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, the Sunset Strip and West Hollywood, Beverly Hills — where? The “gentrification” area of the line is about 4 miles-5 miles of the about 15-mile route. This story looks at it was if it is the bulk of the route; no it isn’t.

    The chart itself is full of BS statistics. About the only ones in there that might be usable are the Estimated Ridership, the Day Count, and the Total Estimated Ridership (for the month). That’s because Metro at best only knows how many boardings, it does not know how far the riders rode as it has no way to know when they got off the bus — and without that knowledge, it is impossible to determine its “Average Passenger Miles” or “Total Passenger Miles”; I have think that instead is how many miles the bus went, not the passengers; but maybe it just plain BS. Yes it pretends it knows how many miles passengers rode, and throws up a BS number for July 2017 of 63,713 Average Passenger Miles.

    When comparing the weekday Estimated Ridership or the weekday Total Estimated Ridership (for the month) from July 2016 against July 2017, it comes to a drop of only 2.37%! The reduction in weekday Estimated Ridership was only 348 riders a day out of 14,679 a day. The reduction in weekday Total Estimated Ridership (for the month) was only 6,960 out of 293,580.Yet this story is talking of 35% drop. Wherever did that figure come from? That 2.37% is not especially of any meaning; with more people having jobs now, maybe more people were off on vacation in July this year. Which, of course, is why a single month’s statistics are wildly misleading, you must look at a much broader time frame.

    Also, it is shocking to see “N/A,” as in “not available,” in the Total row. If they can’t add the weekday, Saturday and Sunday numbers to come up with the total, you better not believe any numbers they give you and instead send them back to First Grade!

    The lesson to me learned here is: THINK. When conclusions are drawn, don’t just accept them, consider their validity. Don’t believe everything you read, think about it.

  2. Lyft and Uber.

  3. Uber,Gentrification, Improved economy. Tada!

    • Yeah, 2009-2017 kinda feels like cherrypicked data… we went from economic ruin to full employment in that time frame.

      Personally, I stopped riding the bus on a regular basis in LA because the headways are so terrible. Try catching the 2 at 9pm and you’ll end up waiting at a bus stop for 45 minutes. I think Metro should become an early adopter of driverless buses. They could probably run 5 minute headways 24/7 with all the money saved.

    • blake phillips-rios

      yep… totally agree… this is one of the slowest busses in the city and the areas between hollywood/silverlake/echo park/downtown are easier to navigate by uber/lyft…

  4. everybody knows it’s because the #704 is so amazing, so fantastic, so…. outstanding – especially at night when you leave the bar in hollywood too drunk to drive and you decide to be responsible and look at your smartphone metro app and see the 704 is two minutes away and you can hop on for $1.75 and be home in a flash! if you havn’t ridden the bus on occassion you should try it because its fun and scary at the same time!

  5. as a person who rides this line twice daily to and from work, GOOD. i’m glad less ppl are using the line bc the busses are routinely so overcrowded the drivers stop making pickups. my guess is the train to the beach is at least 3 times faster than riding the bus the whole way there, and also the introduction of ride sharing services has to have drastically effected ridership. its only a couple dollars more for me to get a lyft and not have to smell urine or wonder if that homeless guy on the bus is dead, or hear the drunk guy yelling at nothing. i will say i have noticed a considerable effort on the part of the MTA lately to keep homeless and otherwise gross (dirty, drunk, ect) ppl out lately. the metro was damn near pleasant those 2 weeks they had cops hanging out at all the stations

    • Bingo. I’m a daily rider as well, and from Echo Park, it’s usually a $3.00 lyft line to downtown. I’m gonna pay the extra dollar 1/3 times..

      Also, I wish they would adjust frequencies to split the wait times between the 2 and the 4. I sometimes feel bad for the 2, because it always pops into view just as I’m stepping on the 4/704.

      If I’m coming from Hollywood, I always stay on the red line, pass the Sunset / Vermont and get off at SMB / Vermont. I made the mistake of trying to catch the EB 2 on a weekend and ended up waiting something like 28 minutes

  6. Between people moving here from other areas and states and the undocumented getting drivers licences, there are more people on the road contributing to more traffic and less bus ridership. I also remember that the last transit strike lasted so long that people found alternate methods of transportation and that’s when I really noticed the traffic uptick. People didn’t necessarily go back to taking buses when the strike ended and the traffic hasn’t eased since. I’d take a bus if it went where I needed to go – and if it were a more pleasant experience. How about someone coming up with a luxury line – comfortable seating; clean and safe; climate controlled and with monitors in the headrests so you can watch the news or a sitcom. I’d pay extra for that. May be Uber or Lyft can run this luxury bus line – I’m sure they’d run it better and cheaper then the city would.

    • I rode this bus daily from 2014-2016. Didn’t notice any change in ridership. It was usually packed. I used it to get to UCLA – which a lot of others did as well – and so was not on it in the summer months.

  7. Gentrification is the new racist word that sounds like something defending an honorable cause. The article used statistics to justify and further increase racism.
    Nobody raised their voices when Latinos drove the whites out of the SF Valley

    • That’s because “reverse racism” doesn’t exist according to the “experts”, lol.

    • Miguel, you might have meant something else, but I find what you wrote, the way your wrote it, to be highly racist and offensive, shockingly so. Latinos DROVE whites out of the San Fernando Valley? Wow. And written by someone named “Miguel.” I hope you were making up a pretend example, but it did not come across like that.

      First, whites have not been leaving the San Fernando Valley!

      Second, Latinos have not driven anyone out of there — gee, driven, what a picture, as if they attacked with machetes and ran them out.

  8. while bus rides are quite affordable. The cost of livery drivers eg. LYFT and Uber is also affordable. It would appear folks like riding alone or with minimal company.

    • Then why is it only Line 2?

    • what people really like is the effortless convenience provided by uber/lyft.
      They no longer need to walk(or run) 3 blocks or 1 block or 1/2 block to the bus stop – now they step out the front door of their home/apt bldg and step directly into the transport vehicle.
      they don’t have to wait 5 or 10 or 20 minutes for the next bus – now the rider controls the schedule.
      even for someone earning low wages, the nominal extra cost of a short haul uber ride to work is worth paying for – especiaLLY if the person is running slightly late on their morning routine.

  9. I used to ride this bus to UCLA. It was a long brutal slog.

  10. the rise of lyft line and uber pool would seem to have an effect. rides across sunset on those services are like $3, not much more than the bus.

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