Metro: Ridership decline can’t be attributed to weather, isolated event

WASHINGTON — Metro ridership was down sharply at nearly every rail station and in all time periods.

Metro’s Finance and Administration Committee reports that the number of weekday riders on Metro rail dropped 6.1 percent last year compared to the previous year. In the second half of 2015, the ridership numbers fell to the lowest level since 2004.

The weekend decline is far worse, with ridership down 12 percent.

Metro cannot blame Mother Nature or any particular incident — such as last September’s transformer fire near the Stadium Armory station, which reduced service on the Silver, Orange and Blue lines. Metro says the drop in ridership was pervasive and not tied to any particular event or to the weather.

Metro riders have consistently complained about reliability of the rail service, particularly since the launch last May of the Silver Line. Metro concedes that since May, passengers have found Metro schedules increasingly less reliable.

Metro’s problems in 2015 ranged from safety — including last January’s smoke-filled tunnel near L’Enfant Plaza, which killed one rider and injured scores of others — to service delays caused by single tracking as Metro rebuilds its aging infrastructure.

The decline in ridership has a ripple effect. The report says paid parking dropped 2 percent last year.

The committee’s report will be presented to the Metro board at its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday. Metro’s new General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has made clear that his primary goals are boosting the transit system’s safety and reliability.

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