11 Months of Phoenix Metro Rail Ridership Data?

I saw RailLife post Metro Rail ridership numbers from Jan 2009 through Nov 2009.  I was curious what these numbers looked like graphed out, so I quickly plotted the weekday, saturday and sunday/holiday numbers.

Metro Ridership by Month

I then wondered what effect temperature may have had on ridership based on extreme heat here in Arizona.  Granted I was only able to use average monthly temperature and monthly ridership numbers instead of being able to plot ridership everyday by temperature.  I would like someone with that data to plot it though or post the daily ridership numbers so someone else can plot it.

Metro Ridership by Temperature

Lastly I wanted to see what effect gasoline prices had on ridership.  I was only able to use average gas prices with month totals instead of average gas price by day and ridership by day.

Metro Ridership by Gas Price

All in all this data is probably useless for several reasons.  Gas prices jump dramatically during the summer almost directly at the same time temperatures rise here in Arizona.  Rising gas prices and temperatures happen at the same time students are out of school and snow birds are gone.  Would love to hear various theories and see more data.

The Empire Continues To Grow.. Is It Evil?

There was recently a somewhat glowing review of the ASU downtown campus in the Arizona Republic.  However, I think if you look at the numbers, they might be more scary than uplifting.  They seem to want to brag about a huge percent increase in enrollment over last year.  It is funny that originally they were reporting 11,500+ students and the Republic debunked how they were counting students and the actual number ended up being under 5,000.  Nothing like an “honest” doubling of numbers when you are trying to justify a $200 million investment.

I am not sure these numbers are much better.  They are reporting just over 7,000 students or roughly a 1,300 student increase.  That sounds pretty reasonable, but if you really dig.  You will find that 390+ were moved under a “reorganization of university classes” from the ASU West Campus and another 230 aren’t actually in a program offered downtown.  So about 620 of the 1,300 new students were potentially manufactured to help bring numbers in alignment to give hope of the 15,000 students by 2020 promised  in the beginning.

Truth be told I could care less if 5 people 500,000 people attended the downtown campus.  What I take the most exception to is the downtown campus tends to re-inforce Dr. Crow’s desire to build his legacy through building the ASU empire.  This is actually good to the bottom line of ASU, so he is doing a good job using that measuring stick.  On the flip side it’s bad for Arizona in general.  Let’s ignore the $40+ million Scottsdale sunk into SkySong and the dismal return they have seen there and lets look solely at the Downtown Campus.  You have $200 million in city bond, $71 million in a journalism school that left Tempe.  The City seems to justify it by saying another $34 million for the Civic Park and $1.4 BILLION in light rail and another $29 million in nursing school will make it pay off some day.  So in the last five years we are looking at $1.8 BILLION investment in education.  Yet, we scream that we are under funding the university system?

I’m concerned that council members believe that ASU should be the “major economic generator” downtown and that they try to link the promise to “opportunities with ASU” including the Convention center?  Shouldn’t they be most concerned with providing us a solid workforce?  Shouldn’t they be focused on educating students?  What about research? I’m also glad that we now measure economic impact with concrete factors like “downtown is now more vibrant”.

I won’t pick on ASU too much though.  They are doing what is right for them and their future.  However, would we have been better off devoting that money to better things?

Note I realize things like the light rail benefit more than ASU students.  I am not a moron.  They seem to indicate that all those things were necessary in getting students to take classes downtown though, so it has to be discussed.