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Metro sees increase in riders, but ridership remains lower than pre-pandemic levels

Customer satisfaction has fallen from 91% to 68% between Q1 and Q3 for Fiscal Year 2022.

WASHINGTON — As gas prices continue to skyrocket and offices reopen for in-person work across the D.C. region, Metro is seeing an increase in riders using trains and buses and outpacing its own user forecast, according to a new report from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). However, customer satisfaction and rail reliability numbers have decreased

Riders almost doubled in March 2022 compared to March 2021 following the slowdown in ridership due to the pandemic. On average, 230,000 people rode the rail, while 280,000 took the bus during their peak days from Tuesday through Thursday in March, WMATA says.

According to WMATA, the boost in riders comes after more offices are reopening for in-person work and more tourists coming to D.C. for large-scale events and activities, such as the annual cherry blossoms. 

“These numbers are encouraging and welcome news for our regional mobility and economy,” said Board Chair Paul C. Smedberg. “While the Board’s budget assumed conservative ridership forecasts in the interest of fiscal responsibility, we are delighted that people are returning to the system more often than expected.”

Metro bus ridership was also trending upward in April, reaching as high as 300,00 riders.

Although more riders are using Metro transportation to get around the D.C. region, the total FY2022 ridership numbers remain well below pre-COVID numbers, tracking at 45% of the rail ridership before the pandemic hit and 61% of bus ridership. 

“People returning to Metro reduces traffic, combats climate change, and delivers clients, customers and employees to federal workplaces and local businesses,” said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. “As the region transitions out of the pandemic and our services continue to improve this summer, we expect more residents and visitors will choose Metro.”

Customer satisfaction has fallen from 91% to 68% between Q1 and Q3 for Fiscal Year 2022, which is below the agency's target metric of 84%. Metro attributes the decrease to service reductions following an October 2021 derailment and COVID-related staffing shortages.

See the full Metro Performance Report here.  

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