CapeFLYER Ridership, Revenue Down in 2014

The CapeFlyer train crossed the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge in Bourne en route to Hyannis.
The CapeFlyer train crossed the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge in Bourne en route to Hyannis. –Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe

Operators of the CapeFLYER rail service say it posted a profit for a second straight year, but it saw a dip in both ridership and revenue in its sophomore season.

About two weeks after the last train left the station, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority shared the numbers with Boston.com.

By the MBTA and CCRTA’s official count, the service carried about 12,600 riders between Boston and Cape Cod throughout the summer of 2014, according to CCRTA administrator Thomas Cahir.

That’s down from about 15,000 in the same period last year. (In 2013, the service handled 16,500 total passenger rides, but about 1,500 of those came in the period between Labor Day and Columbus Day. The service ended operations after Labor Day this year due to the limited 2013 returns.)

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In a phone interview, Cahir said that though the ridership numbers were down, revenue for the year was up. He said the service made more than $310,000 in 2014, compared to about $293,000 in 2013. But a closer look found that to be an apples-and-oranges comparison.

Asked for further details, a CCRTA spokesperson said the service did about $221,000 in ticket sales in 2014, and brought on another $93,000 in advertising. The $293,000 cited last year was fare revenue alone—meaning fare revenues fell off by more than $70,000 in 2014.

So how do the two years stack up if you include advertising revenue from 2013?

Here’s the breakdown:

2013

Fare revenue: $293,000

Non-fare revenue: $27,000

Total revenue: $320,000

2014

Fare revenue: $221,000

Non-fare revenue: $93,000

Total revenue: $314,000

(Non-fare revenue is advertising, as the spokesperson said an outside company handles concession sales.)

Long story short: The service made serious gains in its ability to sell ads in 2014—which may be a result of its 2013 ridership—but ultimately made a little less money in its second year, with a big dent in ticket revenue. That could be due to children now riding free on the service after paying (well, after their parents paid) their way on in 2013, as well as discounts for seniors. That’s counteracted to some extent by price increases on most tickets that also took hold in 2014, though.

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Despite the dip, the CapeFLYER covered its costs in 2014. According to The Cape Cod Times, the service cost about $200,000 to operate in 2013, when it was also profitable, and would cost less this year due to the shorter season schedule. It’s slated to return in 2015.

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