In July, I analyzed how people travel within the Metro system, using a survey to estimate riders’ choice of alternate routes.

Because the data used was for average daily travel between origin and destination stations, it was not possible to determine which stations were primarily ‘commute from’ stations and which were primarily ‘commute to’ stations. However, after my July post, WMATA offered to give me time-specific data, which allows us to look at commuting patterns. The data used for this revised analysis looks at trips taking place between system opening and 9:30AM. The dataset comes from an averaging of AM Peaks from early May 2009.

Click to enlarge.

The methodology used to assign trips to each link in the system is the same used for the initial model and analysis, published in July. In the above graphic, each segment of the Metro line comprises two lines. One line represents inbound trips, the other represents outbound. The thickness of each line represents the total volume on any given segment.

From the graphic it is clear that, not surprisingly, most AM peak trips on Metro are inbound. Most of the reverse commuting in the region seems to occur on the Shady Grove branch of the Red Line, the Vienna end of the Orange Line, and the common Blue and Yellow Line segment in Arlington and Alexandria.

This analysis also gives us a good estimate of the proportion of passengers traveling on different lines at the junction points. For instance, at Rosslyn, 65% of inbound passengers entering the station do so on the Orange Line, while 35% come in on the Blue Line. Outbound trips are slightly more balanced, with 60% on the Orange Line and 40% on the Blue Line.

Inbound

Rosslyn
Orange65%
Blue35%
Stadium
Orange55%
Blue45%
Pentagon
Yellow43%
Blue57%
King Street
Yellow43%
Blue57%
L’Enfant
Yellow38%
Green62%

Outbound

Orange60%
Blue40%
Orange66%
Blue34%
Yellow66%
Blue34%
Yellow60%
Blue40%
Yellow56%
Green44%

In addition to measuring volume on each line segment, this analysis allows us to consider each station based on how “busy” it is. Metro’s faregates keep a record of the number of entries and exits at each station, but they are unable to determine where people transfer. As a result, stations like Metro Center and L’Enfant Plaza appear less busy (on paper) because the people transferring there are not counted. Below is a list showing Metro stations ranked on their level of traffic.

Note that the “transfers” column does not count passengers who don’t change platforms. This is because for someone changing to a train on the same track with multiple common stations, it is not clear where they transfer. Transfers in the table below only refer to passengers who change platforms, from the outbound Blue to the inbound Yellow at Pentagon, for instance.

Metro Station Passenger Traffic (AM Peak)

Table is sortable by clicking each field heading

Overall Rank Station Entries Exits Transfers Total
1Metro Center1,66017,38829,11748,165
2L’Enfant Plaza2,86714,40224,49841,407
3Gallery Place1,5649,94521,00732,517
4Union Station10,24013,106-23,346
5Farragut West1,21216,626-17,838
6Farragut North1,12116,630-17,750
7Rosslyn4,7587,1733,84215,773
8Pentagon7,4826,033913,524
9McPherson Sq1,60411,840-13,444
10Dupont Circle4,6218,552-13,173
11Foggy Bottom2,26810,046-12,314
12Shady Grove10,400902-11,302
13Crystal City4,2196,812-11,031
14Vienna10,019671-10,690
15Fort Totten3,7139845,2049,919
16Silver Spring6,4102,796-9,206
17Ballston4,5984,044-8,642
18West Falls Church6,8941,390-8,284
19Federal Triangle2108,066-8,276
20New Carrollton7,1551,046-8,201
21Pentagon City5,5922,306-7,898
22Judiciary Sq4877,230-7,717
23Franconia-Springfield6,891502-7,393
24Huntington6,648441-7,089
25Smithsonian3726,433-6,805
26Bethesda3,9473,204-6,643
27King Street3,0853,2041896,478
28Capitol South7905,677-6,467
29Archives3715,941-6,312
30Columbia Heights4,0991,804-5,903
31Friendship Heights3,3602,194-5,554
32Branch Avenue5,243298-5,541
33Greenbelt4,725590-5,315
34Suitland4,0751,018-5,093
35Anacostia3,6451,347-4,992
36Court House3,3341,599-4,932
37Navy Yard6614,195-4,856
38Southern Avenue4,314483-4,797
39Federal Center SW4754,214-4,690
40Takoma3,6021,026-4,629
41Glenmont4,244209-4,453
42Medical Center1,1003,313-4,413
43Brookland2,2192,137-4,356
44Grosvenor3,941369-4,310
45Tenleytown1,9232,311-4,234
46Van Ness2,9421,290-4,232
47Largo Town Center3,552410-3,962
48Rhode Island Ave2,6521,197-3,848
49Dunn Loring3,028812-3,840
50Woodley Park2,761900-3,661
51Braddock Road2,590826-3,416
52Rockville2,519886-3,405
53U Street2,0261,346-3,372
54Eastern Market2,3111,059-3,371
55Twinbrook2,385898-3,283
56New York Ave1,0872,023-3,109
57Georgia Ave-Petworth2,156881-3,037
58College Park2,123873-2,996
59East Falls Church2,639256-2,895
60Wheaton2,471386-2,857
61White Flint1,5151,335-2,850
62Prince George’s Plaza2,089728-2,817
63Virginia Sq1,8171,000-2,817
64Cleveland Park2,428310-2,738
65Van Dorn Street2,437300-2,737
66Addison Road2,392329-2,720
67Potomac Ave2,148492-2,641
68Clarendon1,773786-2,559
69Mt. Vernon Sq1,1641,106-2,270
70Naylor Road2,012248-2,260
71West Hyattsville2,045201-2,246
72Minnesota Ave1,360840-2,201
73National Airport6701,486-2,156
74Shaw1,222933-2,155
75Stadium-Armory1,1576862312,073
76Landover1,859151-2,010
77Benning Road1,715283-1,998
78Forest Glen1,773143-1,916
79Eisenhower Ave7231,068-1,791
80Congress Heights1,442286-1,728
81Waterfront1,098607-1,706
82Capitol Heights1,442286-1,728
83Deanwood1,049279-1,328
84Morgan Blvd1,119149-1,267
85Cheverly1,081144-1,224
86Arlington Cemetery22262-284

Looking at the ‘exits’ field reveals some interesting attributes. This field can be considered a reasonable proxy for office access. The first station in exits outside of downtown Washington is Arlington’s Rosslyn station at #12. Medical Center is Montgomery County’s leading station for exits at #21 and is followed by #22, King Street as the highest in Alexandria. Fairfax’s most exited station in the AM Peak is West Falls Church at #33. Prince George’s County’s New Carrollton comes in at #42. In the case of West Falls Church, it is likely that many of the exits are passengers transferring to buses headed for Tysons or Reston.

Tagged: wmata

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 Dupont Circle. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is an employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer.