Metro North Line FAR Exceeds 1st Ridership Goals

Some great news directly from the METRO website

In its first month of operation, the Red/North Line extension exceeded ridership projections by 62 percent.

METRO launched its 5.3-mile extension of the Red/North Line last Dec. 21 – extending the line from HCC-Downtown Station eight more stops to Northline Transit Center/HCC.

In January, the first full month of operation, the Red/North Line averaged 4,200 weekday boardings. That’s 1,600 more than what we had forecasted for the average daily ridership by Sept. 30, the end of METRO’s fiscal year.

“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 Chairman Gilbert Garcia in a statement.

Added Tom Lambert, interim METRO president & CEO: “It’s providing better connectivity and improving the customer experience on many fronts.”

Consider these stats since the Red/North Line expanded:

•The amount of transit service has increased, adding 192 rail trips each weekday, replacing 149 weekday bus trips.

•The frequency of service has increased with peak and midday service running every 12 minutes compared to 15 minutes on previous bus route.

•On-time performance has improved. Route 79, which serves the Northline Transit Center, rose to the top ten routes for on-time performance from the bottom 10.

Ridership on the Red/North Line is expected to surge when two more light-rail lines open later this year, the Burnett Transit Center opens and a redesign of our bus system is implemented.

Once the Green/East End Line and the Purple/Southeast Line open later this year, METRO will have about 23 miles of rail.

Of course in order to properly open the Green and Purple Lines, METRO is going to need some rail cars if they expect those trains to run at full capacity. Even still, the news that North Line ridership has far surpassed initial goals is welcome, especially when considering that the line just opened and much of it’s support infrastructure isn’t completed yet.

I can’t say I’m surprised by this. Anyone who has been brave enough to ride the line immediately finds a charming and interesting way to traverse the Near Northside. The Burnett Transit Center is a striking new edition to Houston rail as the first elevated station in the system. And best yet, at the end of the line, they have access to shopping and dining options that weren’t previously available. Sure many Liberals may detest the thought of stepping into a WalMart, but for most non-politicals out there, the expanded shopping is sorely needed. Slowly but surely, Houstonians are starting to understand that public transit has a place in the city.

The venerable Off the Kuff has more.

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