Posts Tagged ‘ridership’

Metrobus X2 Continues to Gain Riders

March 23rd, 2015 6 comments

Ridership on the X2 Metrobus line has jumped 14% after Metro changed the way the line is managed.

X2 Ridership growth

The X2 bus on the busy H Street/Benning Road corridor has always been one of Metro’s busiest routes at over 13,000 riders per day.  (If the X2 were a Metrorail station, it’d rank just above Silver Spring and just below Rosslyn!) 

Through most of 2014, the X2′s on-time performance (OTP) averaged about 65% – well below Metro’s goal.  Insufficient running time in the schedule, and disruptions from planned and unplanned detours along the route created uneven spacing between buses leading to “bus bunching” and long gaps between buses.   These service gaps often led to significant overcrowding, particularly during the midday period.

So to improve reliability, we made some changes in December 2014:

  • To meet demand, we increased the frequency of buses to an even 8 minutes all day long –  6:00am-7:00pm on weekdays.
  • We deployed a team of dedicated supervisors on the street (at Minnesota Avenue and Lafayette Square) and at the Bus Operations Control Center to ensure even spacing between buses on weekdays. The X2 is now a “headway-managed” route on weekdays, meaning our primary goal is to maintain buses evenly every 8 minutes throughout the day.
  • We adjusted the  scheduled running times by about 15% for all trips.

The results have been impressive: ridership has jumped 14% from 12,700/day in October 2014 to 13,800 in February, overcrowding (particularly during the midday) has been virtually eliminated, and on-time performance has grown to 83% - a remarkable achievement for a heavily congested urban corridor.

Metrorail Ridership Projections – Looking Ahead

March 11th, 2015 8 comments

Historical data and regional growth projections tell us one thing – Metrorail ridership will rebound and grow right along with the region, and the system better be ready to carry the load.

Crystal City Sta -am Rush 060912-129

Metrorail riders enter and exit Crystal City during the AM rush hour, June 2012.

Local ridership trends that seem to defy a national boom in public transit usage give some pause about the need for planned transit expansion projects.  It’s no surprise that even the most ardent of transit supporters might be caught flat-footed when trying to defend infrastructure investments against the backdrop of scarce funding.  Some have even gone so far as to question whether Metorail ridership, which just a few years ago looked poised to eclipse 800 thousand trips per average weekday, is experiencing more of a structural downshifting and may experience flat or even declining ridership for the foreseeable future.

All of this debate is understandable in a town obsessed with statistics and “horse race” leaderboards.  But when it comes to economics, demographics, mobility, and infrastructure, regional leaders need to look beyond the numbers d’jour and bet on a sure thing – Metro ridership will go up.  Here’s why:

1. Short-term snapshots of rail ridership miss the forest for the treesOr maybe even just leaves.

The graph below shows Metrorail average weekday ridership from the beginning of Metrorail. You can see that ridership grew in the first five years as the system grew from just the Red Line and four stops in 1976 to adding Orange and Blue Lines in operation by 1980. And after all of that expansion was completed, something fascinating took place – ridership declined and essentially flatlined until 1985. During that time, the region didn’t stop investing in Metro. On the contrary, during that same time period Metro built the Yellow Line and extended the Red Line from Downtown into Upper NW DC and then all the way to Shady Grove. Ridership shot up again in the late 1980s while Metro extended the Orange Line to Vienna and the Red Line to Wheaton then flat-lined and even declined through the mid 1990s, all while Metrorail added capacity on Yellow and Blue and (finally) opened up the Green Line. From 1997 through the late 2000s Metrorail saw robust ridership increases despite minimal capacity increases – largely reflective of the underlying economic and demographic resurgence of the central city and its urbane suburbs – and ridership flat-lined in tandem largely with the economic collapse of 2008 and the prolonged Great Recession.

ridership_chart_v2-01

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Silver Line Ridership Patterns – Visualized!

February 23rd, 2015 1 comment

Learn about the travel patterns of Silver Line riders in rich, interactive detail with this new tool.

Click on the dashboard below to see where Silver Line rail riders are going, coming from, and by time of day and day type.  This is simply a visualization of the October 2014 rail ridership data we recently posted.  What patterns do you see? What jumps out at you?

The Impact of a Snow Day on Ridership

February 19th, 2015 8 comments

Tuesday’s snow day cut ridership by 70-80% on rail and bus, as the region dug out from a snowstorm.

Snow and federal government closures can have a big impact on ridership here on Metro, and Tuesday February 17 was no exception. Ridership on Metrobus and Metrorail was down significantly as snow kept many buses off the roads and as many commuters stayed home. Service was reduced: Metrorail operated on a Saturday schedule, and Metrobus only began resuming operations around late morning. The numbers are preliminary, particularly on Metrobus, where not all fareboxes have reported in yet. Nevertheless, here’s what ridership by hour looked like compared to the previous Tuesday for context:

Snow Day 2.17.2015 ridership v2

Are Low Gas Prices Impacting Ridership at Metro?

February 11th, 2015 7 comments

As gasoline prices drop and commuters feel less pain at the pump, do they drive more and take Metro less? The short answer is maybe, but not much.

In recent months, gasoline prices in the Washington region have dropped by over a dollar per gallon, to a near-record low of around $2.50 per gallon. Here’s how gas prices have changed in the last 11 years (unadjusted for inflation):

Historical gas prices, Washington region

Below is a simple scatter plot comparing those prices to bus and rail ridership to gasoline prices, by month, for the last 11 years. It shows that gas prices have a very small, nearly negligible, effect on Metro ridership.  The relationship is essentially zero for Metrobus, and barely detectable on Metrorail as a whole, as pictured below. The link is best with off-peak rail ridership (R2 = 0.24) compared to peak ridership (R2 = 0.09), suggesting that off-peak Metrorail riders are most sensitive to gas prices.  (Not pictured.) Read more…

Two-thirds of Metrorail Trips Cross a Boundary

February 3rd, 2015 19 comments

A large majority of trips on Metrorail cross jurisdictional boundaries, illustrating that Metro is indeed a regional service.

We’ve mentioned before how the station improvements in Metro 2025 will benefit riders from all jurisdictions.  In fact, Dupont Circle is the only station identified in Metro 2025 with a majority of users living in DC.   We thought we’d take another look at ridership that crosses jurisdictional boundaries.  The table below illustrates the percent of trips, by jurisdiction of origin, that cross into another jurisdiction on Metrorail, sliced by Weekday AM Peak, Weekday PM Peak and Weekend.  Data is from October 2014 and includes the new Silver Line stations.

A few things pop out: Read more…

Metrorail Data Download, October 2014

January 26th, 2015 23 comments

This new data download from October 2014 includes ridership from the five new Silver Line stations.

Over the past few years we’ve been making ridership data available for download and analysis by the online community.  We have received some requests for full origin-destination (O/D) data sets that include the new Silver Line ridership.

These data sets include ridership from October of 2014, and are available by period (AM Peak, midday, etc.) or by quarter-hour interval, for all stations including the five new Silver Line stations.  Both sets include daily averages for weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Columbus Day.

Note, the quarter-hour data file is to big to open in Microsoft Excel.

Have fun playing around with this data and let us know in the comments what you find.  Make sure you check out  the other assessments of Silver Line ridership  we’ve done.

Jan 29, 2015, 10:00 AM Update:  Files have been updated to include total and average travel times for each station pair.

Feb 02, 2015, 11:00 AM Update:  Files have been updated to separate Columbus Day from Saturdays using a new column “Holiday”.

 

 

 

Tysons-Area Stations Show Unique Ridership Patterns

January 19th, 2015 No comments

The four new Metrorail stations in the Tysons Corner-area of Fairfax County illustrate diversity of land uses.

Tysons Corner, the archetype of an Edge City, is a mix of office towers, apartment buildings and single-use retail in a suburban, auto-oriented setting.  As such, one would expect to see ridership at the new Tysons-area stations reflect the diverse land uses.   Ridership data (station entries) from October, 2014, illustrate this perfectly.

McLean

This station shows more AM Peak entries than any other time period, showing its station area is more like a typical “bedroom” community than the rest.  However, very strong PM Peak station entries reflect many employment sites near the station, providing a near-perfect balance between AM and PM peak entries.  As would be expected at stations with limited retail, mid-day and evening ridership is low at McLean.

Tysons Corner

This station has perhaps the most unique ridership pattern, with PM Peak ridership dwarfing all other time periods, and evening ridership higher than even AM Peak.  This station is located adjacent to two of the region’s largest shopping malls, and the ridership likely reflects both shoppers and retail employees using the station heavily throughout the day.

Greensboro
This station has the greatest number of entries in the PM Peak.  This pattern reflects the suburban employment center-nature of this section of Tysons Corner.  Midday and evening ridership are significantly lower than the peaks, reflecting lower numbers of transit-accessible retail.  

Spring Hill
This station is similar to McLean with the greatest number of entries in the AM Peak, reflecting large residential complexes nearby. However, this station also draws a fair number of PM Peak entries, nearly as many as in the AM, reflecting the variety of job sites within walking distance of the station.

Tysons-Area Stations versus Other Fairfax County Stations

Perhaps what’s most unique about these ridership patterns is that they differ from those of the other stations in Fairfax County. Below is a graphic showing percentage of system entries by period for Tysons-area stations versus the other stations in Fairfax County. At the other Fairfax County stations, system entries are concentrated (two thirds!) in the AM Peak. Ridership at the Tysons-area stations is more diverse, with 37% of the entries in the PM Peak and another 29% in the AM Peak.

These graphics and the data behind them are available for download from the Tableau Public site. What other patters can you find?

Rail Ridership Down As SmartBenefits Run Out

January 12th, 2015 3 comments

Many Metrorail riders now run out of SmartBenefits mid-month, and they may stop riding.

Since the federal transit benefit maximum dropped from $240 to $130 per month, about 25%  of regular Metrorail commuters are running out of SmartBenefits to pay their fare before the month is over. By month’s end, trips paid for with SmartBenefits are now crashing by 40% over last year.  Though a variety of factors explain recent decreases in Metrorail ridership, the transit benefit is a strong explanation as to why the losses are concentrated in the second half of the month. In fact, the biggest influence on ridership over the past year may be the cut in the federal transit benefit, and ridership might even be up by about 2% otherwise.

If we look at trips per day over the span of the month, and only at trips over 7 miles paid for with SmartBenefits, we see the drop closely coinciding with when riders run out of SmartBenefits.   (Shorter trips can be fully funded by the current benefit amount of $130 per month.)

SmartBenefits_over_weekdays_in_a_month_v2

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Ridership at Tysons Corner Station Doubled on Black Friday

January 5th, 2015 No comments

The day was the Tysons Corner Station’s busiest since the Silver Line opened.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. As would be expected, ridership at Metro’s new Tysons Corner station skyrocketed on Black Friday this year. The station facilitated 10,800 riders entering or exiting over the course of the day, double its normal weekday volume of around 5,500.  The chart below shows ridership at Tysons Corner by half-hour for all Fridays since Labor Day.

The day was the first sign of success for Metro’s partnership with Tysons Corner Center and the Tysons Partnership, to encourage shoppers to take Metro to Tysons.

What patterns do you see in this data? Check out the other analysis, visualizations, and the data here.