Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Actually, Wiehle Station Silver Line ridership already exceeds first-year expectations while Tysons lags

We have seen a number of articles based on a WMATA press release yesterday about the great ridership progress made in the first two months of Silver Line Phase 1 operations.  Here's how WMATA leads off:
Metro today provided updated Silver Line ridership information showing that, less than two months after opening, the new line is already performing at 60 percent of its projected ridership for the end of the first full year of service. As of last week, an average of 15,000 riders are entering the system at the five new Silver Line stations on weekdays for a combined 30,000 trips to or from the new stations.
In the planning process, Silver Line ridership was projected to reach 25,000 boardings at the five new stations after one full year of service.
Metro estimates that the Silver Line is currently adding approximately 6,000 new riders -- making roughly 12,000 trips -- to the Metrorail system each weekday. The balance, approximately 9,000 riders, are primarily former Orange Line riders who have switched to the Silver Line.
Wiehle-Reston East remains the Silver Line’s commuting powerhouse, having already surpassed first-year ridership projections with 8,400 boardings, or 16,800 weekday entries and exits.  With convenient bus transfers, a secure bike room and a large parking garage, Wiehle-Reston East’s commute makes up around half the line’s ridership. . . .
In short, the new Silver Line stations are generating about 60% of the 25,000 boardings WMATA expects by the end of the first year of operations.  That translates into 50,000 trips each way per day on the Silver Line.   Actually, a September 12, 2013, brief by WMATA on marketing the Silver Line puts that total daily trips at a slightly smaller number, 49,000, as shown in this graphic:

 
The important thing to notice here is that this projection indicates our Wiehle-Reston East station should produce 16,400 of those trips each day by the end of the year.  

The good news, according to the WMATA press release, is that Wiehle is already generating 16,800 daily trips, 400 more than WMATA projected by the end of the first year of operations.  

Yes, Restonians like mass transit and are using it more than forecast.

The question then is:  Why aren't more riders using the Silver Line at Tysons?  By the end of the first year of operations, it should be carrying 32,600 people per day according to the graphic above.  Right now, subtracting out Reston's share of the traffic, it is only carrying about 13,200 riders daily or 40% of its year-end forecast traffic. 

We wonder if Tysons lack of "a secure bike room and a large parking garage(s)" might not be the problem even with the free (with Metro transfer) circulator bus service there--which gets mixed reviews because of infrequent service on circuitous routes.  (Sounds like the same reviews of the Reston RIBS bus service, which isn't free and each route is much longer & service less frequent.  Hint for Fairfax DOT:  More buses + more frequency = more riders.  And "free" is good too!)   And the absence of parking garages at Tysons isn't a design flaw, it's a "design feature" no matter how ill-conceived.  

Whatever the reasons, we hope that Tysons joins Reston and lives up to WMATA's expectations by next July.

2 comments:

  1. Tysons McLean has a large parking lot that is barely used. Lack of parking is not the reason Tysons stations are lagging.

    The real reason is that the entire point of the Silver Line is to help Tysons become more urban and walkable over a period of decades. That takes longer than 2 months. Meanwhile, Reston is the station set up to catch most people who want to drive. Since the existing land use is more driving-friendly, it stands to reason Reston is where most of the initial riders come from.

    But we plan for 30 years out, not 60 days after opening. As the years and decades pass, Tysons ridership will grow a lot more than Reston ridership.

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  2. Please, anonymous, this is a ONE-YEAR forecast. No doubt as 50,000 more people move into Reston's TOD areas, it too will see much larger increases in Silver Line use. At this point (& I would guess at the end of the first year too), Reston (& points west coming to Reston) has exceeded expectations, Tysons has not.

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