Virginians rode Metro less in 2018 than 2017, according to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and first reported by Metro Reasons. Metrorail Virginia ridership dropped three percent in September 2018 from September 2017 and ten percent fewer Virginians rode Metrobus in September of this year from last. The group will discuss the continued drop at their full Commission hearing on November 1, 2018.
Weekday Service The Only Bright Spot in Metro’s 2018 Ridership
NVTC’s numbers show Metrorail losing three percent in September YoY, but the drop isn’t consistent across time. Weekday average riders increased one percent. Nothing to write home about, but in the current environment, holding ridership steady is a victory. More Commonwealth riders left Metrorail on the weekends, continuing the trend of recent years. Three percent fewer rode WMATA rails on Saturday, eleven percent fewer on Sundays. Those again being September of 2018, versus 2017.
For Metrobus, there’s nothing to be happy about. Through the whole week, ten percent fewer people rode Metrobus in Virginia. Rider demand on weekday bus rides dropped seven percent. Comparing ridership in specific months like this controls for seasonal ridership changes. You want to compare August this year against that same swampy month the previous year. More people ride Metro in the autumn when school is back, and their PTO is burned off with that OBX beach week before Labor Day.
SafeTrack Crushed Metrorail Stations Further Out
NVTC put together station-by-station ridership numbers for the most recent year the data are available, FY2017. They compared those numbers to the FY2016. Important to remember that WMATA’s fiscal year begins July 1st, so FY2016 is actually 2015-16 and FY2017 is 2016-2017. Currently, Metro’s in FY2019 and will start FY2020 in 2019.
There’s carnage all over the station ridership charts, but the big takeaway seems to be that Safetrack crushed the most far-flung stations lost the most riders. FY2017 captures July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. That’s the Safetrack period, and also happens to be the time your reporter escaped DC for a gig in Phoenix. (Shoutout to PHX’s Valley Metro!)
Franconia-Springfield lost 25 percent of its riders during weekdays FY2017, compared to FY2016. Put that next to the Pentagon City stop, which only lost three percent in that time. Vienna lost 22 percent of its weekday riders while East Falls Church lost only four percent. Wiehle Reston East, the terminus of the Silver Line until they open Phase II, lost nine percent of its riders Monday through Friday. McLean, the first Silver Line stop after it splits from the Orange Line, lost only one percent.
The only Virginia Metrorail station to get more weekday riders FY2017 from FY2016 was West Falls Church. Four percent more. Go figure.
NVTC’s Report Includes Lots of Interesting Data
Read the full NVTC report to break down the full station- and time-based data. The PDF is long and full of lots of writing. If you’re like me, you Control+F with “Figure” and go straight to the charts and graphs.