WMATA is having one hell of a bad day, nay, bad month, that just happens to be capped by a really bad day. We’ve had multiple Metrorail outages today, on the Red, Yellow, Orange, and now all Metrorail lines. And who knows how many escalators are out.
You can blame the high heat. You can blame the creaking system. You can even blame power companies, both Pepco and Dominion. But don’t blame the record high ridership. In fact, wonder why Metrorail has such problems with such low ridership.
First, listen to Metrorail croon about its fiscal 2008 ridership:
For the third consecutive year, more than 200 million people rode the Metrorail system during a fiscal year, and for the 12th consecutive year ridership increased on the rail system.
In fiscal year 2008 (July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008), 215,314,956 customers went through the faregates, a 3.6 percent increase, or 7 million more customers than fiscal year 2007
Sounds impressive, eh? Like you might be more crowded on the trains when they do run. That’s until you realize that back in the 1970’s, the system was designed for 323 million annual riders.
So, rather than being grossly overcrowded, Metrorail is actually grossly under ridden – 108 million riders short of its expected volume – or only 2/3 of the capacity it was supposedly designed for. And yet, even with 1/3 more design capacity WMATA can barely keep trains running at all, much less on time.
As you imagine a third more passengers crammed in against you on an overcrowded car, all I can say is: thank god those projections were so off, else we’d all be going to hell on Metrorail.
Hat tip to DC City Desk to keep Metrorail in perspective.