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Metro reports good first month North Line numbers

Off to a fine start.

In its first month of operation, the Red/North Line extension exceeded ridership projections by 62 percent.

METRO launched its 5.3-mile extension of the Red/North Line last Dec. 21 – extending the line from HCC-Downtown Station eight more stops to Northline Transit Center/HCC.

In January, the first full month of operation, the Red/North Line averaged 4,200 weekday boardings. That’s 1,600 more than what we had forecasted for the average daily ridership by Sept. 30, the end of METRO’s fiscal year.

“This speaks volumes about the value of rail in the community, and how expanding the reach of one form of transit enhances others like our bus service, “ said METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia in a statement. “It’s providing better connectivity and improving the customer experience on many fronts.”

Consider these stats since the North/Red Line expanded:

  • The amount of transit service has increased, adding 192 rail trips each weekday, replacing 149 weekday bus trips.
  • The frequency of service has increased with peak and midday service running every 12 minutes, compared to 15 minutes on previous bus route.
  • On-time performance has improved. Route 79, which serves the Northline Transit Center, rose to the Top Ten routes for on-time performance from the bottom 10.

Ridership on the Red/North Line is expected to surge when two more light-rail lines open later this year, the Burnett Transit Center opens and a redesign of our bus system is implemented.

That last link goes to Metro’s System Reimagining page, which is all about what you think it is. The draft of their new system plan should hit the streets in the spring, so probably in two to three months. In the meantime, I’m encouraged by the North Line’s first month numbers. It would be great to see Metro’s overall ridership numbers really rebound after several years of decline.

UPDATE: I sent an email to Christof Spieler for a response to the comment left by chefmegan. Here’s what he sent me:

Comment from METRO staff:

“METRO does have next train departure signage and announcements at the Northline Transit Center. It’s not clear if this was an isolated case where the audio message didn’t clearly indicate, or the passenger may not have heard, which train was leaving. As for parking, METRO currently only has 7 parking spaces at this location. This location was designed as a transfer spot for our buses coming into the transit center and the foot traffic from the adjacent neighborhoods. Based upon our experience to date, we will continue to look for ways to work with community partners to try and identify additional parking around the Northline Transit Center.”

I’ll add this: the new rail lines are designed primarily to serve riders who reach the trains by bus, on foot, or on bike. Parking lots at stations are expensive to acquire, build, and maintain; more significantly, they make the area around the station less pedestrian friendly and disconnect the transit line from the neighborhoods around it. We’ll provide parking where it makes sense and where it will not negatively impact neighborhoods, and private property owners can (and already do) provide parking on their properties around stations.

My thanks to Christof for the information.

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One Comment

  1. Megan says:

    I just submitted a comment/suggestion to metro after our ride today. We live up in Candlelight Plaza north of 43rd, and the Northline Transit Center is just 10 minutes away from us on the other side of 45. We decided to take the rail down to Hermann Park for the afternoon. The ride was fine…when we finally got going. But there is unfortunately nothing to indicate when a train will be leaving, and there were two trains there when we got there. we got on one along with a few other riders, but the other was the first to leave, of course! We left our house a little after 11 and finally got moving around noon! Certainly not the most efficient, but we were doing it for the kids (5 and almost 2) more than anything as they love to ride the rail in town.

    They also weren’t kidding about “limited parking.” You’re surrounded by permit only HCC lots yet there are only 5 parking spaces (including one handicapped spot)! We’re lucky were able to get one, but I worry about going in the future and not having a spot. I suggested to Metro that it would be nice if HCC would at least make the spots close to the station available on Sundays when the lot is not being used by students.

    Clearly we are not the expected riders of this end of the line, but it’s too bad we’re hardly given any consideration!

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