Data Download: May 2013-2014 Metrorail Ridership by Origin and Destination

August 28th, 2014

DataDownloadFuzzyMay 2013 and 2014 Metrorail ridership data is available: what patterns do you see?

Following up on our last data download of rail ridership from May 2012, 2013 and 2014 are now available. These data now represent three “snapshots” in time of rail ridership, at a very fine level of detail.  This data can help answer questions, such as: where is ridership growth the strongest? Which destinations are becoming more or less popular?  How has off-peak vs. peak ridership changed? 

May 2013 Metrorail Ridership by Origin, Destination, TimePeriod, DayOfWeek (.xlsx, 3.3 MB)

May 2014 Metrorail Ridership by Origin, Destination, TimePeriod, DayOfWeek (.xlsx, 3.4 MB)

We invite you to tell us what you see, in the comments.

Technical notes on the data are the same as the last post.  This time, Saturdays and Sundays are shown in the same worksheet as weekdays.

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  1. August 28th, 2014 at 15:05 | #1

    Could you post summary tables showing the total entries and exits from each station during each time period? This is a good way to start looking at the data, and it would make it much easier to understand trends over time. (I have similar tables for every 4 years going back to 1995, some of which were posted on GGW.)

  2. Justin
    August 28th, 2014 at 15:18 | #2

    @Ben Ross Hi Ben – the idea here is to post the detailed data and let folks make their own observations! To summarize by station and time period, just open it in Excel and make a PivotTable – stations as rows, time period as columns, and sum on entries/exits as values. Let us know what you see!

  3. August 28th, 2014 at 22:31 | #3

    The three heaviest traveled pairs are:
    1. Farragut North–Union Station
    2. Farragut North–Shady Grove
    3. Farragut West–Vienna

    This shows a need for investments in: (1) K Street Streetcar, (2) Increased Service on the MARC Brunswick Line , (3) I-66 BRT Service from Vienna and points west to Farragut Square…that each jurisdiction(Maryland, DC, and Virginia) can implement.

    These projects along with 8-car trains will reduce core capacity constraints and are orders of magnitude cheaper than building another downtown Metro tunnel

  4. Andrew
    August 29th, 2014 at 11:25 | #4

    Justin, a couple of questions for you in this post before I make another post with some observations.

    – Weekday late night peak service. This doesn’t exist. What is this? Are these the riders from Sunday’s service day, but who are riding after midnight?
    – How are riders after midnight tallied?
    – Enter station = exit station. 4806 of these trips happened on a typical weekday. Do you know how/why?

  5. Andrew
    August 29th, 2014 at 11:44 | #5

    Now for some fun numbers! I looked only at weekday service.

    86 stations in May means there are 7,396 possible origin-destination pairs. During weekday service, at least 1 person traveled on 7,395 of these routes. Nobody went from Landover to Arlington Cemetery in May.
    700,680 rides on a typical weekday (AM peak, midday, PM peak, evening).
    – 227,850 AM peak (32.5%)
    – 136,918 midday (19.5%)
    – 249,117 PM peak (35.6%)
    – 86,794 evening (12.4%)
    Each peak handles about a 1/3 of a weekday’s load. Off-peak times handle the remaining 1/3.
    Busiest stations:
    AM: Union Station, Shady Grove, Vienna, West Falls Church, Pentagon
    Midday: Union Station, Metro Center, Foggy Bottom, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Dupont Circle
    PM: Farragut North, Metro Center, Farragut West, Union Station, L’Enfant Plaza
    Evening: Gallery Place-Chinatown, Metro Center, Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle, Farragut North
    AM: Farragut North, Farragut West, Metro Center, L’Enfant Plaza, Union Station
    Midday: Metro Center, Union Station, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Farragut North, Farragut West
    PM: Union Station, Vienna, Shady Grove, Pentagon City, Gallery Place-Chinatown
    Evening: Dupont Circle, Columbia Heights, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Silver Spring, Pentagon City
    Least busy stations:
    AM: Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Arlington Cemetery
    Midday: Landover, Morgan Blvd, Cheverly
    PM: Morgan Blvd, Landover, Cheverly
    Evening: Forest Glen, Morgan Blvd, Cheverly
    AM: Landover, Capitol Heights, Cheverly
    Midday: Forest Glen, Morgan Blvd, Cheverly
    PM: Federal Triangle, Federal Center SW, Arlington Cemetery
    Evening: Judiciary Square, Federal Triangle, Arlington Cemetery (expected due to early closing)
    Top entry-exit pair:
    Union Station -> Farragut North
    Shady Grove -> Farragut North
    Vienna -> Farragut West
    West Falls Church -> Farragut West
    Silver Spring -> Farragut North
    Union Station -> Farragut North
    Farragut North -> Union Station
    Union Station -> Metro Center
    Dupont Circle -> Union Station
    Metro Center -> Union Station
    Farragut North -> Union Station
    Farragut North -> Shady Grove
    Farragut West -> Vienna
    Metro Center -> Union Station
    Farragut West -> West Falls Church
    Gallery Place-Chinatown -> Columbia Heights
    Gallery Place-Chinatown -> Dupont Circle
    Gallery Place-Chinatown -> U Street-Cardozo
    Farragut North -> Shady Grove
    Union Station -> Dupont

  6. August 29th, 2014 at 12:19 | #6

    It will be interesting to see what the numbers are for next May, when the Silver Line data will be included.

  7. Patrick
    August 29th, 2014 at 16:01 | #7

    @Andrew , I wonder if this could be double taps on the card reader. I have often seen people do this, probably because there is a responsive delay between last user’s tap and next user’s tap, nor is there a large and obvious feedback mechanism (big light or beep) to verify that your card has been read for relative newcomers to the system.

  8. Andrew
    August 29th, 2014 at 16:12 | #8

    Playing around with looking at it by lines for the May 2014 weekday numbers (excluding rides where entry station is the same as exit station):

    695,874 rides
    – 30% include a transfer (211,358)

    – 26% Red only (179,461)
    – 13% Orange only (90,368)
    – 10% Blue only (67,049)
    – 7% Green only (47,511)
    – 4% Yellow only (26,578)

    – 11% have an option of taking more than 1 line (73,548)
    — 6% Orange/Blue line (38,419)
    — 3% Green/Yellow line (18,696)
    — 2% Blue/Yellow (15,784)
    — 0% Red/Yellow/Green (650) (Ft Totten Gallery Place rides)

  9. Andrew
    August 29th, 2014 at 17:13 | #9

    On a typical weekday across all hours, 214,804 (14.9%) rides pass over/under the Potomac. (A round trip through the tunnel counts as 2 trips.)

    103,981 cross the Potomac and include stations from Rosslyn & points west. This is almost all Rosslyn tunnel travel.
    110,823 cross the Potomac and include stations from Arlington Cemetery/Pentagon & points south. Most of these trips are on the Yellow line bridge, but some are through Rosslyn tunnels.

    202,072 trips both begin and end in DC (29.0%)

    38,256 trips travel through DC without entry/exit (5.5%)
    – Of note that about 600 trips occur between the eastern leg and western leg of the Red line. (These riders could probably be better served by the existing bus system.)

    20,700 (3.0%) rides are good candidates to use the free Farragut Crossing option. This is defined as including a station pair on the Red line from Farragut North to Shady Grove and Farragut West, Foggy Bottom, or a Virginia station.

    5 rides happen between the Farragut North and Farragut West stations. (Tourist joyrides?)

  10. Justin
    August 29th, 2014 at 23:46 | #10

    @Andrew Quick responses to your technical questions first:
    1 – Late night riders are on their own tab with Friday and Saturday combined because as you say, they don’t really fit the other tab’s schema. And I wanted to avoid confusion – e.g. late-night Friday is Saturday AM on the clock, but our fare system records it as Friday.
    2 – riders after midnight Thursday through Sunday are tallied as Evening, I believe.
    3 – Same-station entries and exits – a variety of reasons for this, among them – riders changing plans, employees, trips that somehow got disconnected (e.g., the fare system didn’t record you exit but you attempt to enter again), and more. @Patrick I don’t think many could be double-taps, because if you tried to record two consecutive entries or exits your second tap would be kicked out.

  11. Justin
    August 30th, 2014 at 00:03 | #11

    @Andrew Great analysis. Keep it coming!

    For the transfers analysis, there are several spots in the network where we can’t actually tell if riders transferred. King Street to Capitol South, for example. The Rush+ service pattern also added complexity – e.g., did a rider from Gallery Place to Franconia-Springfield wait for that one-seat ride on the Rush-Plus Yellow, or did they just hop on the first Yellow and transfer in Virginia to Blue? What assumptions did you make here?

    Interesting observation on the Farragut Crossing potential market – we see actual usage lower than that.

    Good point about the 200,000+ crossing the Potomac each day. This demand is concentrated at peak times and strains our two crossings. It’s a major reason for 8-car trains in the medium term, and perhaps a third crossing in the long term.

    Again, great analysis, and keep it coming!

  12. Matt Dickens
    September 2nd, 2014 at 09:21 | #12

    It would be interesting to have information released for more than just May, so that people could look at the differences in travel patterns across the seasons. Certainly there are stations that get disproportionate travel during the summer months.

    Also it would be interested to see information broken out by different weekends so that people could look at the impact of special events, or specific station closures, etc.

  13. Matt Dickens
    September 2nd, 2014 at 09:22 | #13

    This is great data however – looking forward to checking it out!

  14. Andrew
    September 2nd, 2014 at 11:01 | #14

    Justin, I used the information on the stations page ( to color-code each station. That page has it only for the non-Rush+ configuration and ignores turnbacks. I then simply looked at if the entry-exit pair shared a line or two (or 3 in the case of Ft Totten-Gallery Place).

    I assumed that if a one-seat ride was available, it was used. This isn’t always realistic: A trip going from Pentagon to Capitol South counts as a 1-seater since they are both on Blue, but would realistically be taken by Yellow to L’Enfant and transferring. Likewise for a trip from Franconia to Gallery Place is counted as a transfer, but could be accomplished by a one-seat Rush+ train.

  15. rg
    September 3rd, 2014 at 15:11 | #15

    My perception as I walk to the Metro in the morning recently has been that more people are boarding at Stadium-Armory than in recent years. The data back up my anecdotal perception: weekday boardings at Stadium-Armory increased 4% between May 2013 and May 2014.

    Now if we could just do something about the vacant land immediately adjacent to the south entrance of the station. A vast sea of dilapidated and weedy surface parking is probably not the best way to leverage our investment in a heavy rail subway station served by three lines.

  16. Justin
    September 3rd, 2014 at 15:37 | #16

    @rg Nice that the data confirm your perception! You mentioned the morning – does the 4% hold for just the AM Peak as well? An even longer retrospective (10-year) is here – does the pattern hold?

  17. Michael
    September 4th, 2014 at 13:09 | #17

    Why is there no combined Metrorail and Metrobus data that shows bus route to train station to exiting train station ? That would provide more info on what routes are being used and where bus routes should be going.

  18. Justin
    September 4th, 2014 at 13:27 | #18

    @Michael Michael, bus-to-rail and rail-to-bus transfer data does exist in our transfers datamart. The data above focuses on rail only. Is there transfer data that you’d particularly like to see, and in what format?

  19. Peter
    September 4th, 2014 at 13:52 | #19

    It would be interesting (and perhaps useful) to know ridership figures (by line) by days of the week. For example, are there more riders, by line, on Monday than Thursday? Which day of the week has, by line, the heaviest rider load, and conversely which has the lowest. I am not sure these data can be obtained from the data table, but it might be useful to know.

  20. Rodrigo
    September 11th, 2014 at 11:12 | #20

    Hi Justin. I am a research assistant working for a think thank in D.C. I am working on a research project that will look at the effects of WMATA on regional labor markets. I was wondering whether you have any idea where i could get some reports on commute times and rider ship for the years soon following the construction of the WAMTA. Ideally I would like to see some reports that came out in early 80’s or 90’s. Please email me at if you have any information
    Thank you very much


  21. Justin
    September 11th, 2014 at 11:21 | #21

    @Rodrigo Sure thing – look for an email shortly.

  22. Sam
    September 15th, 2015 at 21:32 | #22

    Hi Justin,

    I’m a researcher at an economic consulting firm in D.C, but am pursuing an independent project related to the Metrorail. I’m interested in rider behavior as influenced by peak and off-peak fares. The data you posted above is the closest I’ve found, but what I’m looking for is a bit more specific.

    I’m wondering if you have any ideas on how to get the following:

    Ideally each turnstile entry would be an observation. With time of entry, fare type (AM peak, off-peak, etc.), entry station name and exit station name. Also, a variable for total price paid for trip would be awesome! I realize this would be a large data set. A couple relatively recent weeks of data would do.

    Please let me know if you have any ideas, leads or questions for me –


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