Despite all of Metro’s problems recently with falling ridership recently, D.C.’s major provider of public transit has good reason to believe that its fortunes will change in the next five years. In fact, given the model that Metro uses to anticipate rider demand, the organization believe that it may need to accommodate as many as 84,000 additional daily, weekday trips by the year 2020.
WMATA proposed the estimate on its planning blog in an ongoing series of explanations about near-term development around its Metrorail stations.
“Researchers at Jones Lang LaSalle have been compiling a list of actual development projects – under construction, or planned – near Metrorail stations, so that we can forecast the near-term capital needs for the system,” Metro explained. “A huge amount of development (over 105 million square feet!) is on the books for within a half-mile of a Metrorail station.”
The extra 84,000 thousand trips produced by people living, working and visiting those locations could mean $24,000 per day in added revenue, according to Metro. And 30,000 of those trips would be associated with projects that are currently under construction.
The map below shows where WMATA expects these developments to have an impact:
Metro’s optimism invites plenty of reason for concern, however. The blog post ends with a call to keep Metro fully funded so that it can reach its capital initiative goals for 2025.
And make no mistake, money will be needed to improve infrastructure and make the system safe for existing riders, as well as all of the many thousands who may start using SmarTrip cards in the next few years. That said, WMATA failed to spend $207 million of its allotted budget for maintenance, program management and vehicles and other programs in 2014, The Washington Post recently reported.
Given that failure and Metrorail’s recent record of unsafe – and even fatal – tunnel conditions, it will be important that its leadership not lose sight of keeping the system safe and managing all finances responsibly. Without proactive steps on those fronts, the prospect of funneling larger crowds onto the platforms at Gallery Place, Metro Center doesn’t sound like one that D.C. commuters are going to want to see.