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What were the busiest Metro stations in 1995?

Last week, we took a look at current ridership patterns on Metro using the data WMATA released. Ben Ross has a similar set of data from 1995, and comparing the two shows how a lot has changed since 1995.

View busiest stations: 1995   2012

One of the biggest changes since 1995 is, of course, in the number of stations. Branch Avenue, Columbia Heights, Congress Heights, Franconia-Springfield, Georgia Ave/Petworth, Glenmont, Largo, Morgan Boulevard, NoMa (New York Avenue), Southern Avenue, and Suitland all don't appear in the 1995 data set because they weren't yet open at the time.

Morning peak ridership

The AM peak is the "purest" ridership period for measuring commuting. The vast majority of trips at that time of day are from home to work, so we can most easily attribute changes in a station's ridership in the AM peak to changes in commuting patterns.

Overall, AM peak ridership has gone up 40% since 1995, from 169,000 to 236,000 trips for the average weekday.

How has ridership changed at the busiest stations?

AM Peak Entries: 1995 and 2012
1995 RankStation1995 Entries2012 Entries2012 Rank% Change
3Union Station6,9389,712140.0
4Shady Grove6,7429,557341.8
6Silver Spring5,9056,02782.1
7New Carrollton5,4126,321616.8

The most obvious changes in entries are due to line extensions that allowed riders to park or get off the bus closer to home. Anacostia lost riders to Branch Avenue; Pentagon to Franconia/Springfield. Silver Spring lost many riders when Glenmont opened, but residential growth made up for that.

Also noteworthy is the rapid growth of West Falls Church, fed by buses and cars coming in from the Dulles Corridor, and Union Station, where riders transfer from MARC and VRE. The growth at West Falls Church indicates the potential for Silver Line ridership.

AM Peak Exits: 1995 and 2012
1995 RankStation1995 Exits2012 Exits2012 Rank% Change
1Farragut West14,89515,49824.0
2Farragut North13,19516,754127.0
3Metro Center13,08915,359317.3
4L'Enfant Plaza9,83913,143433.6
5McPherson Square9,09811,185622.9
6Foggy Bottom7,58910,530838.8
7Dupont Circle7,3446,11813-16.7
8Union Station7,19312,030567.2
9Judiciary Sq5,5486,5151217.4

What stands out here is the eastward expansion of downtown. Exits at Gallery Place more than tripled, from 3,101 to 10,682, and Navy Yard, although not in the top 10, exploded from 322 to 3,772. Stations in the older areas of downtown and government offices, where there has been little new construction, saw growth in the 15-20% range. (Note that 2012 figures for Farragut North and Dupont Circle are distorted by the closing of the south entrance at Dupont.)

Want to run your own analyses of the 1995 data? You can download the scanned pages with all of the 1995 ridership numbers by station and time period (unfortunately, that's the format we have it in) or AM peak ridership spreadsheet we typed in.

If you type in any more data, please post a link to it in the comments so others can use the data as well, and if you come up with any useful conclusions or visualizations, please send them along so we can share them with everyone!

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Heís a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer. 
Ben Ross was president of the Action Committee for Transit for 15 years. His book about the politics of urbanism and transit, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, is now available in paperback. 
David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Thanks for posting the 1995 vs 2012 comparison. The only shift that I find a surprise (given the changes with the
completion of the Green & Blue lines) is the shift from Ballston to West Falls Church for busier AM entry station. When the parking capacity at WFC was expanded? Any idea as to how much connecting bus service at WFC has been increased since the mid-90s?

I hope PlanitMetro releases the May 2013 data, so there is a closer baseline point for comparisons after Silver Line Phase 1 opens.

BTW, the link for AM peak ridership spreadsheet leads to a page not found. And the download zip file does not correctly unzip - for me anyway.

by AlanF on Dec 5, 2012 12:15 pm • linkreport

So the Pentagon fall off: Is that just fewer people taking buses there? Were there bus routes that used to go all the way up to Pentagon that now stop at Franconia-Springfield? Could one park near the Pentagon back in 1995 (making it more of a park and ride station)?

by Steven Yates on Dec 5, 2012 1:12 pm • linkreport

I recall distinctly there being park-and-ride near the Pentagon in 1995.

by Simon on Dec 5, 2012 1:24 pm • linkreport

This is back when people used the parking lot at the Anacostia Metro station because they had no other choice, very different now.

by John Muller on Dec 5, 2012 3:33 pm • linkreport

Speaking of the service extensions what was the ridership at

Rhode Island Ave and Union Station before Noma/New York Ave was built and then after. I remember walking to Union Station and once in a while to Rhode Island Ave from near Noma station before it was built wonder how many went from going to Union Station or Rhode Island to NOMA afterwards

U Street and Ft Totten before and after Georgia Ave and Columbia Heights were built

The funny thing about many of these bus routes that were cut when new stations were opened have actually been put back together over the years ( 60,64,62,63, X9 original X2 route, 30's, 96/7, D6/42 kinda swapped routes)

by kk on Dec 5, 2012 8:13 pm • linkreport

Re: Pentagon, not only did opening Franconia/Springfield shift some buses from the Pentagon but also Pike Ride shifted many Route 16 buses to Pentagon City. I don't recall there ever being much park-and-ride for Pentagon but the site of the Pentagon City Fashion Centre was a massive gravel parking lot for 1000+ cars in the 1980s. The mall was in place by 1995 so these numbers wouldn't account for that.

by Mark on Dec 6, 2012 10:34 am • linkreport

ZIP file doesn't work for me.

by David on Dec 8, 2012 7:06 pm • linkreport

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