I imagine that most readers have seen these charts on Orphan Road that bgtothen has put together of the ridership of bus routes operated by Metro (includes Sound Transit routes within King County, as those are operated by Metro). They are awesome and I appreciate tremendously bgtothen putting them together.
The data is great. I meant to post on this before, but I didn't have much to add to the discussion until I read the last sentance:
One last point. The highest ridership route for the Eastside is the 550 at 19th place. The highest none UW/CBD to Eastside route is the 230 at 29th place. Pretty pitiful. This just goes to show how much wealth and sprawl kill transit.
There's really no argument about density and transit (more density, more ridership) but the 550 route is less than ten years old (the same goes for all 5XX routes), while the single digit bus routes are ancient, and most of the double digit metro routes are old too. A brand-new service in Seattle might have low ridership as well, give those routes a little bit of time: transit also leads to density as well as getting riders off of it.
These routes lead directly into a question about sub-area equity. Why are Sound Transit and Metro wasting their money running buses in the suburbs when the buses in the city are a way better deal per dollar? The answer is because those in the burbs are paying for those buses. They deserve something for their tax dollars, and even at 10 riders per service hour, that's cheaper for society than those riders driving.