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Before the D.C. streetcar launched in February, officials said they expected riders to take between 1,500 and 2,000 trips along H Street and Benning Road NE each day. Now, they say, ridership is surpassing that mark.
The latest numbers from the District Department of Transportation show that daily weekday ridership has hovered just north of 2,400 trips on average from March to May. The mean ridership for Saturdays was roughly 3,050 in March, 3,400 in April, and 2,600 last month. (DDOT posits that the three weeks of rain caused, to some extent, the roughly 25 percent drop in average Saturday ridership from April to May.) Overall, total monthly ridership has exceeded 63,000 trips per month, with April seeing the most trips so far. Average east-to-west trip times remain around 20 minutes.
“Ridership numbers are collected via automatic passenger counters installed on board vehicles and verified by periodic manual checks,” DDOT notes. “Ridership numbers are submitted monthly to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and are considered preliminary. Numbers are subject to change.”
Will monthly ridership get past 70,000 trips soon? Maybe, but don’t hold your breath: It arguably depends on how many residents stick around for the summer, and how many tourists make their way to the H Street–Benning Road NE corridor.
Update, 2:28 p.m.: Asked to explain the drop in average Saturday ridership from April to May, a DDOT spokesperson provided the following statement:
“There are any number of factors that can impact ridership during a given month. Those factors can range from weather to special events. When comparing May ridership numbers to April in particular, weather and special events were contributing factors. During April, Streetcar recorded its second highest Saturday ridership number on the 30th. Nearly 5,000 people rode the system to the Bluegrass Festival. On the other hand, May saw a roughly 10 day period of rainfall. We can’t make definitive statements about the impact of those factors, but they are elements to consider when looking at a swing in ridership numbers. The good news is we continue to exceed our projected average daily ridership number of between 1500-2000.”