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Rail Ridership Appears to Hit Highs, But Metro Says It's Complicated

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Metro just released their ridership statistics for July and it looks like people are really taking to those rail lines. According to the numbers, the Red and Purple subway lines logged their highest number of riders ever with 171,163 average weekday boardings, compared to 154,450 in July 2010 (about an 11% increase). The Blue Line also hit records with 90,109 average weekday boardings, a jump from 77,545 last year, or an almost 16% uptick. The Gold Line continues to see a big boost following the November 2009 opening of six new stations in Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, and East LA: it had 42,900 boardings on an average workday last month, a big increase from last year and more than double the amount of people who rode the Gold Line before the Eastside Extension (pictured) opened. The Green Line saw 45,259 riders last month, a 13% increase from 39,900 last year, and the second best number ever recorded. It seems strange that Metro isn't heralding these numbers, but there's good reason for that.

"Yes, the July ridership charts show records on the subway, Metro Gold and Blue lines and the second best ridership showing ever on the Green Line, however, it's a little complicated," Metro's Mark Littman tells us. "On the buses we have instant ridership data thanks to the automatic passenger counters in the stepwells. On the rail side, we don't have those counters on the train cars so they use a rolling average based on pass and ticket sales and also on board passenger counts done by schedule checkers. But it can take months to check every single time period on every rail line. Bottom line: the July ridership numbers likely are reflecting the impacts of high gas prices last spring as well as other more recent factors like improved frequency on the Gold Line" (the Gold Line now has trains every six minutes during rush hour).

"Bus ridership is bouncing back from the steep dips we saw right after the recession ensued. It's flat year over year but it had been down more than 10 percent."

There you have it. And expect the Expo Line, whenever it opens (2011? 2012?), to help increase ridership on the other lines as well.
· Ridership Statistics [Metro]
· Gas Prices Sending Riders to Gold Line (Not Other Lines) [Curbed LA]