The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Expo Line from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica, CA, has reached its 2030 ridership goals after being in service for just over one year, according to Curbed Los Angeles.
The Expo Line's second phase reached an average of 64,000 daily riders in June, echoing the success of the line's first phase, which reached its 2020 ridership goals ahead of schedule in 2013. Additional trains and more frequent arrivals helped the Santa Monica line overcome startup problems of overcrowding and schedule delays.
Overall Metro and public bus ridership, however, is declining, both in Los Angeles and across the U.S., according to StreetsBlog, except in cities that have redesigned their bus systems and expanded their light-rail networks.
Phoenix has also seen quick success with its inaugural Valley Metro light-rail line. The line's strategic placement near Arizona State University and along the area's busiest bus routes allowed the system to reach its 20-year daily ridership goal of 50,000 in just a few years.
Unlike Phoenix, light-rail ridership in the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system is on the decline. What's more research from The Brookings Institution put the system at a loss of $4.43 per passenger ride. Critics of the DART system argue that the system is both inefficient and difficult to use.
Ridership, or lack thereof, is also at the heart of Maryland's Purple Line light-rail controversy.
Just days before the $5.6 billion, suburban Washington, DC, system was to receive a $900 million Federal Transit Administration grant, a federal judge revoked the project's approval based on the ridership numbers in its environmental review.
Purple Line officials derived their projected ridership from DC's Metrorail, assuming that a portion of those commuters would flow over to the Purple Line. However, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that environmental review did not adequately address the fact that the number of Metrorail ridership is also dwindling.
Leon has since rejected the state of Maryland's request that he stay his order halting construction on the project, saying the state didn't provide proof that a further delay would cause "irreparable harm."