Metro Board To Discuss How To Combat Recent Decline in Ridership

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.

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