After handling more than a quarter-million rail trips over the four-day NCAA Final Four period, Metro is calling it a slam dunk.
“These are numbers are fantastic for us,” spokesman Jerome Gray said.
Metro said 255,700 rail boardings occurred from Friday until Monday. That’s roughly 87,000 more for the four days than the system would typically carry. The figure also does not include about 4,500 people who hopped buses from NRG Park that ferried them downtown to relieve rail demand after the basketball games on Saturday and Monday nights.
The totals are also significantly higher than Metro reported in 2011, prior to opening three new segments of light rail in the area. Five years ago, about 148,300 people used light rail for the four days of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
One reason riders reported a smoother trip to and from the basketball games that increased Metro’s ability to carry people is the light rail expansion, which meant the agency had more cars, Gray said.
In 2011, Metro would have owned 18 rail cars. Today, more than 60 were available, though Metro operates roughly three times as much distance via rail.
Metro’s press release has a bit more detail:
Major events located downtown helped increase ridership on the Red Line by nearly 50 percent. This year the Red Line saw 219,000 passenger trips compared to 148,000 for 2011.
“Seeing 255,000 boardings on rail during the four day event is very impressive and shows what can happen with an expanded system,” said METRO President and CEO Tom Lambert. “This success comes on the heels of record Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ridership and it shows METRO is a key travel option.”
During the 2016 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, more than 1.5 million boardings were taken on light-rail, compared to 1.3 million last year, a 23% increase.
So that’s 36,000 boardings on the other lines as well. I’m not sure if that includes the North line extension or if that’s counted with the Red line overall. It’s pretty good no matter how you look at it. Honestly, I don’t know why you wouldn’t take the rail to one of Houston’s stadia if it’s at all an option. Park near a station if you need to, or make like you would for the airport and have someone drop you off and pick you up, and ride the rest of the way in. It’s way cheaper than parking at the stadium, and you don’t get stuck in traffic at either end. It just makes sense. KUHF has more.