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Metro Board To Discuss How To Combat Recent Decline in Ridership

by Dave Emke — October 10, 2017 at 1:30 pm 14 Comments

Nearly a third of Metro’s ridership decline in recent years is attributed to decreasing performance, according to information that will be presented to WMATA’s Finance Committee during its meeting this week.

According to its report on ridership between 2013 to 2016, Metro says there are several factors that have contributed to the drop. In addition to the failing reliability, the named factors include the federal benefit drop in 2014 that reduced high-use SmartBenefits customers; an increase in telework that has decreased AM peak ridership on Fridays; and the popularity of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft.

The report lists four “marketing and communications efforts” that are planned in the effort to promote ridership:

  • Focus on 30 percent of riders who left because of service reliability issues
  • Encourage off-peak rail ridership through partnerships
  • Strengthen SmartBenefits program and regional employer relationships
  • Promote pass products, automatic reload and other fare products

In its latest “Back2Good” initiative report, Metro says railcar reliability was up more than 50 percent in the first seven months of 2017 when compared to that same time in 2016. It also says there were 60 percent fewer HVAC issues in July 2017 than in July 2016.

“These efforts will continue in the coming months as we hope to see sustained improvements, such as the reduction in passenger offloads and improvements in customer on-time performance,” reads the report. “However, we realize that it will take some time to regain the trust and confidence of customers needed to return to the system.”

At the end of the report, the Metro board and Metro-served jurisdictions are given examples of ways they can help increase ridership:

  • Development: Advocate for development proposals near stations/corridors
  • Access to Metrorail and Metrobus: Ensure existing jobs and housing are connected to rail stations and bus stops by investing in sidewalks, curb ramps, bus shelters, etc.
  • Congestion Relief: Advocate for on-street improvements to speed up buses, such as traffic signal prioritization and bus lanes

Metro’s next set of board and committee meetings is slated for Thursday.

  • Samantha Gilman

    It takes far less time (generally) and costs similar or less to drive/park in the city than to ride Metro now. I’ve used the Silver Line once since it opened.

    My husband was fortunate that when they reduced federal employee Smart Benefits, his telework was increased.

    • Greg

      And you have a far better chance of getting to your destination alive, safe, comfortably, and on time.

  • Greg

    Get rid of the current board, especially Hudgins. One more thing she’s destroyed.

    • TheKingJAK

      Notice how one of the proposals listed above is to advocate for more density around Metro stops. That’s right in line with Supervisor Hudgins.

      • Greg

        Yes, I did. And increased density is certainly not going to do a thing to mitigate Metro’s problems.

        OTOH, I recall predicting increased development and metro dysfunction when everyone was salivating to get Metro to Reston.

  • meh

    I know how to fix it.

    Increase the costs, reduce the number of trains and have Jackie Jeter call anyone that disagrees with this a horrible person.

  • Why do you bother?

    Here’s what needs to happen to get riders back:

    1. Reliable trains on a reliable schedule.

    2. Reduce the cost.

    3. Fix the HVAC on all train cars.

    4. Build a second Potomac crossover.

    I’m not holding my breath…

    • Amy Sue

      Yes, metro, it’s not rocket science. No need for an elaborate study. Just have clean trains that run on time and don’t break down. Oh….and yes, reduce the prices at least until you get your s*** together. When I have to wait an hour for a train because one broke down, when there’s no air conditioning, when I know the trains will stop at any time, AND I’m paying premium prices, metro becomes extremely unattractive. I’m currently exploring housing options in Leesburg because I know I could take a Loudoun bus into my job in DC. The thought of the long commute via comfortable bus is MUCH better than taking a chance on metro.

      • Why do you bother?

        Your last sentence is why I decided a couple of years ago not to apply for any jobs that would require Metro to get there.

  • Tammi Petrine

    I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that any sane planner or responsible leader would crowd more homes near Metro on the off chance that increased density MIGHT make Metro functional…

    That is certainly NOT a gamble we are willing to take in the PRC areas of Reston. Metro is failing beyond any expectation. What will be the final price tag of the Silver Line, Phase 2? What happens to the concept of TSA’s (Transit Station Areas) if the transit component can not be resurrected? Is the breakneck speed at which the Reston corridor area is being packed with homes without an adequate budget balancing commercial component a huge mistake? At this point, the only hope is that one truly can Live, Work and Play in the same community and NOT need Metro!

  • Off_He_Goes

    Reorganize the board, fire all the management and crush ATU Local 689.I believe that unions do have a usefulness to a point, but in this case the union supporting Metro has become nothing more than an unaccountable jobs program. If there is a way to operate without this group or at least restructure the contract please do so.

    And I’ll also add that ATO needs to be figured out and turned back on, a ton of issues can be traced back to the 2009 Red Line accident and the subsequent shelving of ATO.

  • Scott

    Hey I have an idea. Let’s spend $800M dollars to extend metro to low-rider density areas and make the system even more unsustainable.

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