Thanks to data from Metro’s planning department, we have the ability to analyze many different ridership patterns. Today, let’s take a look at stations, and see which are the busiest.
During the weekday morning rush period, many people are entering the Metro system to get to work. The busiest stations for entering customers fall all across the region.
Here’s a table of the top 10:
|Metro AM Peak period entries: Top 10 stations|
|4||West Falls Church||6,816.1|
Half of these stations are end-of-line stations with large park-and-ride lots. Pentagon and West Falls Church are both major bus hubs, as is Silver Spring. Union Station, of course, is at the top because it’s where many commuter rail riders enter the Metro system.
The entries at these 10 stations account for 30.7% of all entries during the AM peak across the system.
And where are these riders going? The busiest stations for exits are all in the region’s core. Here’s the top 10:
|Metro AM Peak period exits: Top 10 stations|
Of all the people who exit the Metro system during the morning peak period, 50.3% of them exit at one of the top 10 stations. These 10 stations account for more exits than all the other stations combined, with 118,757 people exiting these stations on average each morning.
Also of note, the 2 Farragut Square stations combined handle more than twice as many exits as the third place station, Metro Center. Without the objection of the National Park Service, the Farragut stations would have been one station, and a crowded one at that.
We can see similar patterns during the evening rush hour.
The top 10 evening entry stations are all in the regional core, with just one, Rosslyn, outside downtown Washington. The only station in the AM peak top 10 exit list that is not in the evening entry list is Pentagon (which is 13th place). It’s been replaced by Smithsonian (which is 14th in the AM exits list).
The top 10 entry stations for the PM peak represent 45.7% of all PM peak entries systemwide, a slightly smaller share than the share of the top 10 morning exit stations.
|Metro PM Peak period entries: Top 10 stations|
And where are these evening commuters headed?
|Metro PM Peak period exits: Top 10 stations|
|6||West Falls Church||6,555.5|
The evening exits top 10 looks a lot like the morning entries top 10. But Huntington and Franconia-Springfield, which are the #7 and #9 top entry stations in the morning have dropped to #12 and #11, respectively. In their place are 2 central stations, Gallery Place and Dupont Circle.
This difference can probably be attributed to the entertainment venues and restaurants near these stations. Dupont Circle and Gallery Place are known for their nightlife opportunities, and passengers headed there probably drive the numbers up a bit.
The top 10 PM peak exit stations account for 28.3% of all exiting passengers systemwide on average.
The time between the morning and evening rush hours is what Metro calls the midday period. It’s probably marked not just by people running errands or going to lunch, but also by workers who commute slightly later in the morning or earlier in the afternoon than most or who have jobs that don’t have 9-5 hours.
|Metro midday period entries and exits: Top 10 stations|
|1||Union Station||6,209.5||1||Union Station||7,114.5|
|2||Metro Center||5,003.6||2||Metro Center||7,085.3|
|3||Gallery Place||4,419.5||3||Gallery Place||6,151.8|
|4||Foggy Bottom||4,311.3||4||Farragut North||5,866.7|
|6||Dupont Circle||3,776.0||6||Foggy Bottom||4,812.2|
|7||L’Enfant Plaza||3,721.1||7||Farragut West||4,488.9|
|8||Farragut West||3,572.9||8||L’Enfant Plaza||4,076.9|
|9||Pentagon City||3,532.5||9||Dupont Circle||4,055.2|
I think the fact that the top 3 midday entry stations are the same as the top 3 exit stations is interesting. Union Station makes a lot of sense, considering its role as an intermodal hub. The reasons for Gallery Place and Metro Center are less clear. Keep in mind that people changing trains aren’t counted; only people leaving or entering the faregates appear in these numbers.
Additionally, 9 stations are in both lists. Rosslyn, #10 in the midday entries list does not appear in the exits list because it has fallen to #12. Instead, Smithsonian appears in 5th place on the exits list. This is probably because many people (especially tourists) are headed to see the monuments or museums in the vicinity. Few are leaving the Mall area yet, though, perhaps accounting for Smithsonian’s absence from the top entry stations list (it’s 16th).
The period after the PM rush is the evening period. Note that these numbers do not include the average ridership for the after midnight service provided on Fridays.
|Metro evening period entries and exits: Top 10 stations|
|1||Gallery Place||7,489.0||1||Dupont Circle||2,884.3|
|2||Metro Center||5,897.4||2||Gallery Place||2,803.5|
|3||Foggy Bottom||4,533.8||3||Columbia Heights||2,772.5|
|4||Farragut North||4,523.3||4||Pentagon City||2,512.6|
|5||Union Station||4126.5||5||Silver Spring||2,493.6|
|6||Dupont Circle||3,963.4||6||Shady Grove||2,349.8|
|9||Pentagon City||2,519.4||9||Union Station||2,034.9|
|10||McPherson Square||2,345.8||10||Fort Totten||1,969.5|
As expected, Gallery Place and Dupont Circle, major nightlife areas, appear in both the evening entry and exit top 10. Most of the other entry stations are in the core. Navy Yard comes in at number 8, perhaps due to Nats games during May, when the data were collected.
Shady Grove, Vienna, and Silver Spring are all major suburban hubs, and their presence in the top 10 exit list isn’t surprising. Columbia Heights and Fort Totten are both stations that haven’t appeared in other top 10 counts, so their inclusion is somewhat surprising.
What surprises you about these numbers?