Posts Tagged ‘ridership’

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 1 comment

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

Read more…

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.

Metrorail Brought One-Third of Fans to Nationals Park in 2014

December 22nd, 2014 10 comments

Carrying an average of 11,000 riders to every Nationals home game, Metrorail maintained a 34% mode share to Nationals park in the 2014 season.

How many baseball fans take Metro to Nationals Park? Metro’s rail planning team tracks this statistic, by looking at activity around game times at Navy Yard-Ballpark and Capitol South stations that exceed our typical baseline ridership.  On game days, Metro provides special game-day trains on the Green Line to handle increased loads to and from Navy Yard-Ballpark station.

Over the 81 home games in 2014, Metrorail brought an estimated 890,000 total riders to the ballpark, or about 11,000 riders per game.  Compared to the average attendance of 31,000 at Nationals Park this year, this equates to a 34% mode share for Metrorail at Nationals Park.  Including both entries and exits, Nationals games generated about 1.7 million total trips for Metrorail this season. A few more observations:

  • Interestingly, ridership to the game is typically 8% higher than ridership from the game – some spectators must be finding another way home!
  • Metrorail’s mode share was highest for Friday games (38%), and lowest for Wednesday games (32%)
  • Mode share increases slightly for high-attendance games, but the relationship is weak.  Metrorail’s market share remains mostly stable in the 30-40% range, whether attendance was 20,000 or 40,000.

We’ve posted additional visualizations and the raw data, in addition to the charts in this post. What do you think? What patterns do you see?

Veterans Day 2014 Metrorail Ridership

December 18th, 2014 2 comments

 Metrorail’s special Veterans Day schedule handily served commuters and concert goers alike.

On November 11, 2014, Metrorail served a reduced commuter market, as well as a large event on the National Mall, the Concert for Valor.  Metro ran a modified rail schedule, with near-peak service levels throughout most of the day, and Blue Line trains replaced with additional Yellow Line trains.

by Entry Time

Compared to a Typical Weekday:

  • Total ridership for the day was 515,000 trips, which is about 80% of a typical weekday
  • The AM Peak commute was roughly half of a typical weekday.

Compared to Veterans Day 2013:

  • Ridership was up by around 40%, or 147,000 trips.
  • Ridership at most stations was up by about 25-50%, while five stations serving the National Mall doubled and tripled last year’s numbers.
    • Federal Triangle and L’Enfant Plaza were over quadruple last year’s ridership
    • Ridership at Arlington Cemetery was down by half, coinciding with reduced service to that station.
    • The morning commute (until 9:30am) was up 13% over last Veterans Day, evenly across most stations. This is another sign that when the federal workforce, most impacted by the drop in the federal transit benefit, is (mostly) removed from Metrorail’s commute market, ridership is up.

Read more…

The Drop in Transit Benefit Has Effectively Been a 20% Cost Increase for Metrorail Riders

November 6th, 2014 9 comments

The drop in the federal transit benefit is making Metrorail riders feel the pinch in their wallets, and it’s hurting ridership.

What’s happened to ridership since the benefit changed? You may have seen in the news that Metrorail riders have been heavily impacted by changes in federal tax law that discourages transit usage.  The maximum amount of SmartBenefits dropped from $240 to $130 per month in January, and since then:

  • Since the change, our traditional commuter market - full-fare customers who travel from suburban stations to the core at peak times – has fallen by about 1.5%.
  • Trips shorter than 4 miles – more likely to still be fully subsidized – are unchanged.
  • Customers able to get through the month on SmartBenefits alone are down 25%, while customers who must supplement with their own cash have doubled, and the net result has been a 10% loss in trips from this key commute market.
  • 75% of this ridership loss has been from trips over 7 miles: at an average fare of $4.10/trip equating to $165/month and up, these longer commutes now require substantial out-of-pocket contributions.
  • The average impacted SmartBenefits customer must now pay $0.84 extra per trip – this is the equivalent of a 20% fare hike.
    • For riders directly subsidized by the federal government, this was increase of nearly $2.40 per day, or over $54/month.
    • For riders setting aside pre-tax dollars, this felt like a 10% fare increase.
  • Trips paid for with SmartBenefits have dropped 1%.

Change in Ridership by SmartBenefits Class v2

The decrease in the federal transit benefit has hurt Metrorail ridership in the last year. Ridership is up from customers who are unaffected by the policy change, but more people must supplement with out-of-pocket contributions to make it through the month, and in the process Metrorail is losing trips.

How do you know it’s not something else? Ridership could be down for a variety of reasons, and we continue to mine the data for other patterns – from the economy to demographics to fares. We can’t pin all of the ridership loss on the federal transit benefit, but the losses have been concentrated on SmartBenefits users. In addition:

  • Ridership from commuters not enrolled in SmartBenefits has actually grown by 2% in the last year.
  • We are still investigating, but customers do not appear to be reducing travel much due to telework. Metrorail has been losing both customers and trips (not just trips), and trip frequency among commuters is mostly stable.
  • In fact, we are gaining riders at stations with recent transit-oriented development, and ridership is up 3% at stations along the Green Line in D.C., the Red Line in Northeast D.C., and Courthouse/Clarendon in Arlington.

We continue to study the trends, and for a second glance see our more detailed summary of ridership trends (PDF, 710K).

“Virtual” Tunnel Yields Real Benefits

November 4th, 2014 16 comments

Use of the “Farragut Crossing” virtual tunnel is strong, averaging around 18,000 trips per month during the more temperate months, dropping to 15,000 during the winter.

Users of the Metrorail system come up with a lot of different ideas for how Metro can better serve their needs.  Ideas often come from the blogging community and are sometimes considered by Metro planners, researchers and leadership.  One such idea was the virtual tunnel between Farragut North and Farragut WestNow dubbed “Farragut Crossing” via a Facebook naming contest, this fare policy update allows transfers between the two Farragut stations without being charged two separate fares.

Farragut Crossing was first opened in October of 2011 and monthly usage increased from just a few thousand trips in its first few months to a max of over 21,000 in May of 2014.  Since then, it’s settled to around 18,000 during the fair-weather months.

Read more…

Mass Transit Needs Mass

October 15th, 2014 6 comments

Transit expansion is in demand but Metrorail, light rail, and other high capacity transit projects can be expensive to build, operate and maintain.  With limited resources to invest, our region must ensure that these projects serve the most robust transit markets and are supported by strong transit friendly policies.

Informed by our peers and local performance measures, Metro is developing guidelines that the region can use to inform development of high capacity transit projects. As we’ve explored previously, there’s much more to transit expansion than Metrorail. In fact, due to the cost associated with Metrorail expansion along with existing land uses and built environment in much of the region, most of our future high capacity transit projects will be made up of other transit modes. But what is the best way to decide what mode best fits each corridor? The goal of the expansion guidelines is to inform those decisions.

Development in Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor has validated initial and ongoing investments in Metrorail. (source: Arlington County)

A literature and peer review included policy documents from BART (PDF), the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Florida DOT, Virginia DRPT, Federal Transit Administration (PDF), and research from the University of California Transportation Center (UCTC). The review found that ridership, density, the presence of walkable streets and sidewalks, local plans and policies, and cost effectiveness are the most relevant criteria to evaluate transit projects and that rigorous performance targets are needed to support each transit mode. Read more…

Where Are Silver Line Riders Going?

October 9th, 2014 8 comments

Ridership patterns on the Silver Line show that Metro’s new line is serving a truly regional market.

Now that school is back in session, the new Silver Line just completed its first full week where “normal” travel patterns are beginning to emerge. Ridership is strong, but where are these new passengers going? The diagram below shows destinations of all riders entering a Silver Line station in the week of September 8-12, 2014.

Where Are SV Riders Going_Sept 2014_typicalweekdayV3

Some observations emerge from this: Read more…

Early Ridership on the Silver Line

October 8th, 2014 7 comments

After just two months, ridership on the Silver Line is off to a solid start: Wiehle Ave is already over projections, reverse commuting is strong, and more. 

Now that school is back in session and most summer vacations over, here is an in-depth look at the week of September 8-12, 2014, when “normal” routines may have begun to emerge.

At around 15,000 entries per weekday, the Silver Line is off to a solid start.  Compared to the official projections from the 2004 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), we are achieving about 60% of the ridership projected for the end of the line’s first year:

Typical Weekday SV Ridership vs. ProjectionsWiehle station is already over opening-year projections and shows the highest ridership of all the new stations.  Tysons Corner station is strong as well, but we still have room to grow at all four stations located in the Tysons area.

Looking at ridership by time of day shows the Wiehle is a commuting powerhouse, but also that a strong reverse commute market is emerging at the other stations:

SV Ridership by 15-minute increment

  • McLean (in blue) is showing an early lead as a a “traditional” commute station, where most riders enter in the morning.
  • Tysons Corner is much more dominated by reverse commuters, and its morning rush extends into mid-morning (around 10:00am).  Evening ridership at Tysons Corners is also heavy. (More on off-peak ridership at Tysons coming soon)
  • Greensboro and Spring Hill show relatively light ridership so far, but ridership is expected to grow over time as development catches up with the new station.

What do you think?  Have you taken the Silver Line on a weekday? What was your experience?

The raw data by quarter-hour interval underlying this analysis is available in two formats: by station alone (2MB, .xlsx), and by origin-destination station (3MB, zipped tab-delimited .txt).

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