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Old 03-17-2015, 09:59 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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You often see statements like "This corridor is overcrowded and now it's time to upgrade to _______ service." Are there any ridership ranges/thresholds that determine what particular mode is appropriate?

Looking at the busiest rapid rail systems in the country by ridership per mile, we get:

New York Subway - 39,055
PATH - 18,167
MBTA - 14,750
SEPTA - 9,355
Metro (LA) - 8,793
CTA - 7,331
Metro (DC) - 7,087
MARTA - 4,876
BART - 4,300
MTA - 3,097
Miami - 3,057

Of course, these numbers are for whole entire systems, not one corridor. But in terms of upgrading a single corridor from bus service to light rail or from light rail to heavy rail, what type of ridership, if any, is typically considered "high enough"?
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Old 03-17-2015, 12:06 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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I attempted to do a ridership comparison between the L subway line in NYC and the Canada Line in Vancouver. The Canada Line is a "light metro" — it uses trains that are only two cars long. It looks like they have about the same weekday ridership but the L train has a higher peak hour flow. One difference is the L train is much more used at the closer in side while the outer Brooklyn side is relatively lightly used — ridership per mile doesn't capture the heavy use further in. I'm a bit confused with the numbers though, I think I might have misread a chart.

BRT vs. Light Rail

Light rail in Europe often gets the same use per mile as many American heavy rail systems. Suburban lines such as BART or a commuter rail system will get less ridership per mile since the stations are spaced out more even if still crowded.
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Old 03-17-2015, 12:28 PM
 
Location: The City
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List of United States rapid transit systems by ridership - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of United States light rail systems by ridership - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

note Boston's Green line Light Rail surpasses most heavy rail ridership per mile
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Old 03-17-2015, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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I know there's numbers in terms of people per house per direction, it's probably not too hard to find those.

How that translates into ridership per mile for a corridor is trickier though. It depends on how much variation there is between peak and off peak usage, as well as how unidirectional it is. For instance, commuter rail is often used mostly during rush-hour and mostly in a single direction - towards downtown in the AM and towards the suburbs in the PM, so it might be at capacity in that direction during rush-hour but well below capacity in the other direction or outside rush-hour. It also depends how far people ride on the route. If people travel short distances, the line can carry more people per mile.

In a university town like Waterloo, ON a lot of the ridership is students getting to/from university, and class schedules vary quite a lot from one student to the next, some have classes in the morning, some in the afternoon, others in the evening, so that spreads out ridership more and makes the transit system more efficient. Kitchener-Waterloo also has a variety of major destinations throughout its central transit corridor rather than just at one point on it, and to a lesser extent this is also true with some of the secondary transit corridors, which also helps generate ridership throughout the day in both directions.

Also, many transit lines, especially those with much of the ridership going to one destination (ex downtowns) might be at capacity at the part of the line near downtown but well below capacity at the far reaches of the transit line.

Global comparisons btw

Cairo Metro: ~80,000
Budapest Metro: 54,000
Tokyo Metro: 53,000
Seoul Subway: 48,000
Toei Subway (Tokyo): 35,000
Moscow Metro: 33,000
Paris Metro: 32,000
Montreal Metro: 29,000
Toronto Subway: 26,000
Vienna U-Bahn: 26,000
Barcelona Metro: ~26,000?
Shanghai Metro: 23,000
London Underground: ~20,000?
Berlin U-bahn: 15,000
Madrid Metro: ~12,000?

Light Rail rapid transit

Vancouver Skytrain: 9,200 (not sure if you can call it light rail?)
Calgary C Train: 8,500

Trams

Budapest: ~16,000?
Vienna: ~11,000?
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Old 03-17-2015, 12:29 PM
 
Location: The City
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Also the LA subway is pretty impressive for being as young as it is
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Old 03-17-2015, 12:39 PM
 
Location: The City
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List of United States commuter rail systems by ridership - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some Int'l metrics

International Urban Rail: Passengers per Line Mile
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Old 03-17-2015, 12:57 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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Going by these numbers, and assuming that daily ridership per direction is 10x peak hour ridership per direction, and that the average trip length is 5 miles. If everyone gets on at equal numbers along the line and gets off all at downtown which is at one end of the line, than a line that's at capacity at the downtown end will be at 50% capacity on the line as a whole, it could be even worse if more people get on near the core than further out. I'll assume that the line is at 2/3 max capacity on average in the peak direction when it's at 100% capacity at the busiest point.
Subway, LRT or bus: the pros and cons of Toronto’s transit options | Metro

Here's what I get per mile

Subway capacity: 20,000 to 54,000
LRT capacity: 2,700 to 20,000 (I think low end is for streetcars in mixed traffic vs true LRT for the high end)
BRT: 11,000
Regular bus: 2,700

Although 5 miles for the average trip is not necessarily the case. For instance, the King Streetcar, Toronto's busiest only reaches 4.8 miles from downtown (Bay St) at it's furthest point (Dundas W subway station) and at the other end (Broadway subway station) only gets to 2.4 miles from downtown, so that the average point on the route is 2.0 miles from downtown. So the average trip on the King Streetcar is most likely under 3 miles.

On the other hand, commuter rail often involves trips much longer than 5 miles.

Last edited by memph; 03-17-2015 at 01:05 PM..
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Old 03-17-2015, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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So median length of trips to Downtown Toronto:

Commuter Rail: 18 miles
Transit: 4.6 miles
Driving: 5.4 miles

For trips made across the Toronto area as a whole, the median length is

Commuter Rail: 18 miles
Transit: 4.3 miles
Driving: 3.4 miles
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Old 03-17-2015, 07:32 PM
 
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Of course commuter rail trips are longer. On several systems it is possible to travel over 50 miles. Interesting that, although LA has the highest ridership of any system commissioned since 1990, DFW has the highest per mile. Note: the A train terminates in Denton TX, but passengers can transfer to a LRT line to Dallas.

Last edited by pvande55; 03-17-2015 at 07:35 PM.. Reason: Add line
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Old 03-19-2015, 12:03 AM
 
Location: Philly, PA
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I had no idea SEPTA had surpassed MBTA in Commuter Rail ridership by 4,000. Its funny New York and Philadelphia appear multiple times on the commuter rail chart. I think we have to be the most inter-connected cities and region ever.
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