After pouring billions into rail projects, it’s been disconcerting that ridership on Metro has been steadily dropping for the past few years. Whether because of the rise of Uber and Lyft, or the increasing allure of working remotely, our local transit system is dealing with a serious problem.
After opening two new rail extensions this spring, Metro finally got some good news—rail ridership is rising. Approximate train ridership numbers for last month were 9,251,620; a jump of 7.5 percent from May 2015. The Expo Line, hovering around 30,000 daily riders since opening in 2012, attracted nearly 40,000 daily riders last month—and the Santa Monica extension didn’t open until May 20. June numbers for Expo should be even better. Meanwhile, the Gold Line had been attracting about 40,000 daily riders as of late, but clocked close to 50,000 workday commuters in May; the extension to Azusa opened March 5. Year over year, Gold Line ridership grew nearly 23 percent in May.
The Green, Red, and Purple lines dropped slightly in May when compared to last year, but the downturn was smaller than what was seen from 2014 to 2015. The Blue Line, which connects to the Expo Line at several stations, actually saw a boost this month for weekday and weekend service—it’s now at over 81,000 weekday riders and monthly numbers are up over 10 percent from May of last year.
There is bad news. While the 2016 numbers are better than the 2015 numbers, they’re still below 2014 totals. Bus ridership also continues to stall, dropping nearly 7 percent from last year and even more when compared to 2014. With the rail lines jumping, it stands to reason that Angelenos will commit to transit when service is reliable and somewhat speedy. With that in mind, exclusive lanes may be the only option for turning around bus ridership in this day and age.