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Metro Rapid Demonstration Program Evaluation Report - Ridership

MTA has estimated the ridership on the two Metro Rapid corridors using both point check data and data from automated passenger counters. While the two methods return somewhat different results, there is agreement that ridership has increased dramatically on both corridors by approximately 25-30 percent. The increase in the Wilshire/Whittier corridor appears to result from major growth in both Metro Rapid and local ridership with the percentage of riders using Metro Rapid dropping slightly from the historic limited-stop service, possibly due to (a) the wider stop spacing for Metro Rapid, (b) the old limited-stop service was only limited-stop for a portion of the route and operated in local service for long segments of the alignment, and (c) some people are transferring between the Metro Rapid and local buses along the corridor. As well, the Wilshire/Whittier Metro Rapid appears to be capacity-constrained in the morning peak period. For instance, an additional 23 trips were introduced on September 10, 2000 to alleviate this constraint resulting in an immediate increase in ridership for the overall Metro Rapid line.

Total Unlinked Ridership
Total Unlinked Ridership Wilshire/Whittier Corridor Ventura Corridor
Before After Before After
Local 39,708 55,946 10,800 4,650
Limited 23,785      
Metro Rapid   28,207   9,000
Total Ridership 63,497 84,153 10,800 13,650
Net Increase   20,666   2,850
% Increase   32.6%   26.4%
Percentage of Corridor Ridership
% Corridor Ridership Wilshire/Whittier Corridor Ventura Corridor
Before After Before After
Local 63% 66%   34.1%
Limited/Metro Rapid 37% 34%   65.9%

Passenger survey data indicate that over 1/3 of this overall increase is from non-transit users (patrons who never rode transit before), with 1/3 from current riders riding more often and 1/3 from riders of other MTA transit switching to service on these corridors. Of particular significance is that a 17-to-20 percent increase in ridership came directly from new transit travel (1/3 plus 1/3).

Passenger Trip Lengths

One of the major objectives of Metro Rapid was to provide more convenient travel for longer distance transit riders. From the average trip lengths by riders on the two corridors, it is clear that longer distance travelers are using the Metro Rapid services. However, it appears that Metro Rapid is not solely used by longer distance travelers, but remains similar to the previous limited-stop services with average trip lengths of approximately twice the local service. This makes the Metro Rapid more effective from a seat turnover standpoint and is not inconsistent with expectations from a similar light rail service.

Average Passenger Trip Lengths

Wlshire & Whittier Corridor
Wilshire/Whittier Corridor Before After
Eastbound(miles) Westbound(miles) Eastbound(miles) Westbound(miles)
Local Line 18 2.8 3.1 2.6 2.6
Local Line 20/21 3.2 4.4 3.3 4.2
Limited-stop Line 320 5.2 7.9    
Metro Rapid Line 720     7.0 7.3
Ventura Corridor
Ventura Corridor Before After
Eastbound(miles) Westbound(miles) Eastbound(miles) Westbound(miles)
Express Line 424/522 10.6 7.8    
Express Line 425 25.2 N/A    
Local Line 150/240     N/A N/A
Metro Rapid 750     8.4 7.5

Geographic Distribution of Ridership

The geographic distribution of boardings and the average productivity per route mile for each of the Metro Rapid lines indicates significant, but not surprising differences between lines. Ventura boardings are heavily influenced by the Metro Red Line station at Universal City with relatively even, consistent generation of riders along the remainder of the route. A key objective for the Ventura Metro Rapid was for customers to utilize it as an extension of the Metro Red Line. Service is timed for both Metro Rapid and local service to the arrival and departures of trains for Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. Passenger surveys indicate that over 24 percent of all trips on Line 750 Ventura involve the Metro Rail system compared to just 8-to-14 percent of local trips. The 1-in-4 trips linking Metro Rapid with Metro Rail is excellent and is expected to continue to grow as new riders enter the system.

Line 750 Corridor
Line 750 Ventura Average Per Trip
Boardings Alightings % Boardings of Total Boardings Per Mile
Universal City Station Ventura Vineland 11.1 3.9 32.5% 17.6
Ventura Vineland Ventura Laurel Cyn 2.3 2.0 6.9% 1.5
Ventura Laurel Cyn Ventura Van Nuys 3.5 4.1 10.3% 1.1
Ventura Van Nuys Ventura Balboa 5.3 5.2 15.5% 1.7
Ventura Balboa Ventura Reseda 3.9 3.4 11.3% 1.8
Ventura Reseda Ventura Winnetka 1.8 1.4 5.2% 0.9
Ventura Winnetka Ventura Tpga Cyn 2.6 2.2 7.7% 1.3
Ventura Tpga Cyn Owensmouth Oxnard 3.6 1.6 10.5% 1.8
Total   34.1 23.7 100.0% 2.0
Line 720 Wilshire & Whittier Corridor
Line 720 Wilshire/Whittier Average Per Trip
Boardings Alightings % Boardings of Total Boardings Per Mile
Ocean Pico Wilshire 14thst 8.3 9.1 8.4% 4.4
Wilshire 14thst Wilshire Sawtelle 5.6 5.4 5.7% 2.0
Wilshire Sawtelle Wilshire Westwood 2.2 1.9 2.2% 3.0
Wilshire Westwood Wilshire Beverly 6.7 7.4 6.8% 2.4
Wilshire Beverly Sanvicn Wilshire 3.8 4.8 3.9% 2.4
Sanvicn Wilshire Wilshire Fairfax 2.2 2.1 2.3% 3.7
Wilshire Fairfax Wilshire La Brea 1.8 3.8 1.9% 1.8
Wilshire La Brea Wilshire Western 7.4 6.8 7.6% 3.7
Wilshire Western Wilshire Vermont 12.9 9.5 13.1% 12.9
Wilshire Vermont Wilshire Alvarado 6.5 5.6 6.6% 6.6
Wilshire Alvarado 6thst Alameda 8.5 14.7 8.7% 3.0
6thst Alameda Whittier Soto St 8.0 7.0 8.2% 5.8
Whittier Soto St Whittier Downey 8.4 7.2 8.6% 3.8
Whittier Downey Whittier Atlantic 7.0 6.0 7.2% 5.2
Whittier Atlantic Whittier Garfield 5.9 6.4 6.0% 3.7
Whittier Garfield Montebello Metrolink 2.6 2.1 2.6% 2.7
Total   98.0 99.8 100.0% 3.8

The Wilshire/Whittier Metro Rapid line is less influenced by the Metro Red Line, although the segment from Western to Vermont has the highest ridership generation of the line. Downtown Los Angeles was not a major ridership generator, although heavy loads are carried through LACBD. Other above average ridership generating segments included Vermont to Alvarado (Westlake), Alameda to Soto (Boyle Heights), Downey to Atlantic (East Los Angeles), Ocean/Pico to 14th (Santa Monica), and Soto to Downey (Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles).

A key expectation for the Wilshire/Whittier Metro Rapid line was that it would provide an important service link between the east and west sides through downtown Los Angeles. Analysis of both the Automated Passenger Counter (APC) ridership data and passenger survey data indicate that significant numbers of riders are making these trips using Metro Rapid. One half or more of the on-board riders entering downtown continue between the east and west sides during peak periods. Passenger survey responses indicated that approximately 41 percent of the Eastside riders travel to the Westside or Santa Monica with 24 percent having a downtown destination.

In conclusion, it appears that Metro Rapid has exceeded ridership expectations in terms of overall increased passenger use on both Metro Rapid and local buses, penetration of previous non-user markets, use by longer distance travelers, meeting the needs of persons traveling between the east and west sides of Los Angeles County, and serving as an extension of the Metro Red Line in the San Fernando Valley. It is also clear that ridership continues to grow, especially on the Wilshire/Whittier line, which appears to be capacity constrained during at least the peak periods. Growth will be further fostered by the completion of the Metro Rapid Stations along both corridors and the second phase of the marketing campaign. This will place a priority of providing significantly more capacity along the Wilshire/Whittier in a cost-effective fashion. Moreover, similar performance and market response to both Metro Rapid lines may be indicative of what to expect for Phase II line additions to the Metro Rapid network.

Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
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