Houston Metro rail line ridership exceeds projections

Posted on February 19, 2014

Early numbers show the public is embracing Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County’s (Metro) North Line extension, which surpassed ridership projections by 62%.

On December 21, 2013, Metro launched its 5.3-mile North Line. The event came just days before the 10-year anniversary of the existing Red Line. In January, its first full month of service, the North Line averaged 4,200 weekday boardings. That’s 1,600 more than what is forecasted to be the average daily ridership by the end of the 2014 fiscal year, according to the transit agency.   

“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 Board Chairman Gilbert Garcia.

“Though these are early numbers, they’re a good indication of how well the extension has been received by the community,” said Tom Lambert, interim Metro president and CEO. “It’s providing better connectivity and improving the customer experience on many fronts.”

Since Metro extended Red Line service north, it has:

  • Increased the amount of transit service, adding 192 rail trips each weekday, replacing 149 weekday bus trips.
  • Increased the frequency of service: peak and midday service has been running every 12 minutes compared to 15 minutes on previous bus routes.
  • Improved on-time performance: Route 79, which serves the Northline Transit Center (the line’s last station), scaled to the top 10 routes for on-time performance from the bottom 10.

Ridership on Main Street’s Red Line surpassed 100 million boardings in 2013, four years ahead of forecasted projections. Ridership on the North Line is expected to increase when two other rail lines open, the Burnett Transit Center is completed and a system reimagining plan is approved and implemented.

Metro’s rail system will triple in size, operating about 23 miles of track once the East End (Green) and Southeast (Purple) Lines open for passenger service later this year.

RELATED: "Light Rail Ridership Growth Spurs Minneapolis' Metro Transit to Expand Services"

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