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Rail News: Passenger Rail

WMATA ridership continues to rise


Throughout last year, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) smashed ridership records, logging seven of the top 10 ridership days. And barely into 2001, WMATA’s continuing its record pace.

By the end of January, average weekday ridership was 588,500 passenger trips. March 14, WMATA logged 644,589 passenger trips — then followed that up the next day with 652,544 passenger trips, pushing March 14, 2001, into the logbooks as the agency’s eighth highest ridership day.

And January’s average weekday ridership rose 18.2 percent over January 2000’s ridership — or 90,500 more trips per average weekday.

Although the system is in a growth period overall, January’s ridership increase is attributable to the Presidential Inauguration events and the Branch Avenue segment’s opening on the Green Line. Ridership for those five new stations exceeded expectations, averaging more than 30,000 passengers per weekday, said WMATA General Manager Richard White in a prepared statement.

Also in January, morning peak-period ridership increased 17.8 percent over last year, or 30,500 trips; afternoon peak and evening ridership combined increased 34,700 trips per day, or 15.6 percent over January 2000.

Last June, WMATA extended its Friday and Saturday service to 2 a.m. for a one-year trial. January’s late-night Friday boardings averaged 6,991, a 38.1 percent increase over the previous month; Saturday late-night boardings averaged 8,274, an 80.6 percent increase in January 2001 over December 2000.

WMATA’s board plans to meet prior to the pilot program’s June 30, 2001, expiration to decide whether to continue the Friday and Saturday night one-hour service extension.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/19/2001