May 23, 2014
Another three months has passed, so it’s time for another LACMTA rail ridership update.
First, the raw data. Highlighted cells represent the top 10 months for that line.
Blue Line ridership recovered a little in April, but the Green Line and Gold Line had some weak months. The big surprise is a nearly 10% drop in weekday Red Line ridership since January. I suppose you could blame it on locking the fare gates, but the drop isn’t reflected in weekend data. Possibly, the data just isn’t accurate enough to see changes on this short of a time frame. Weekend ridership, with the exception of the Blue Line, remained strong.
The bright spot in the last 3 months of data was the Expo Line, which after leveling off for about 6 months, saw ridership gains between January and April. Expo Line is now within spitting distance of 30,000 riders a day.
Here’s the rolling 12-month average of weekday ridership:
Again, boardings per mile is a better way to look at productivity. Here’s the update for the rolling 12-month average of boardings per mile:
Another metric I’m interested in exploring is boardings per revenue mile. This is daily boardings divided by revenue miles of service provided, i.e. the number of trips multiplied by the length of the trips. (For the detail-inclined, I’m using boardings per revenue trip-mile, not per revenue vehicle-mile, because I don’t know what the consists are for every trip.)
I just started looking at this, so I only have a few months of data – let’s consider this the initial benchmark. Here’s the raw data and chart.
The subway is the clear winner in boardings per revenue mile, and I doubt that will change much when Westside Subway Extension is built. In fact, boardings per revenue mile may even go up because of the network effects.
For LRT, I find two interesting results in this metric. One, the Gold Line is the worst performer by a considerable margin. This is because LACMTA runs Gold Line Service just as frequently as the Blue Line, despite it not achieving even half the ridership. (Things wouldn’t look as bad on a vehicle-mile basis, because most Gold Line trips are two cars, while most Blue Line trips are three cars.) Now, you have to run service frequently so that riders can depend on it. But it does beg the question of why we’re running the Gold Line every 6 minutes during peak and every 10 minutes late night, while the Green Line achieves basically the same ridership with 7-8 minute peak headways and 20 minute late night headways. If the folks in Pasadena and East LA deserve 10 minute headways late night, why don’t the folks along the 105 corridor?
Second, the Expo Line is king – after only two years in service, it’s the most productive LRT line in boardings per revenue mile. This is partly due to the inexcusably poor peak period headway (12 minutes) which results in fewer trips on Expo Line than the Blue Line and Gold Line. But even if you assume Expo service is increased to Blue Line frequencies, you’d still get 11.92 boardings per revenue mile. If Reason wants to run a correction on its Expo Line hit piece, now might be a good time.
On a somewhat related note, you can’t beat my early AM carpool ride to downtown for convenience, but I do miss having firsthand experience on the rail system every day.