Metro says the new Silver Line is off to a strong start.
The line opened on July 26, and in its first two months of service it’s serving 60 percent of its projected ridership for the full first year of service, according to Metro.
The line, which added 11.7 miles of new tracks that branch off from East Falls Church and go to Wiehle-Reston East, is averaging 15,000 riders on weekdays, for a total of 30,000 new trips to or from one of the five new stations.
“In addition to being a great way to travel in Virginia and DC, we are pleased to see the Silver Line is also connecting the region more broadly,” Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles said in a press release. “On weekday mornings, nearly 10 percent of riders entering at the five new Silver Line stations are bound for stations in Maryland, and 17 percent of the riders exiting at the five new Virginia stations start their trips in Maryland.”
But the numbers don’t necessarily mean ridership is growing. On Aug. 4—-after the Silver Line’s first week—-Metro found that 15,942 passengers boarded a Silver Line train at one of the five new stations each weekday. At the time, Metro said that was “roughly two-thirds of the way to achieving the project’s goal of 25,000 weekday boarding after one year of service.” That Aug. 4 figure is more than the 15,000 the Silver Line is currently reporting.
Silver Line ridership certainly enjoyed an initial bump in its first week, but it’s unclear if the numbers then dropped and are now going up, or if the figures have remained relatively stagnant.
“Ridership is seasonal (certain weeks and months are always busier than others), and influenced by weather, holidays, Congress in/out of session, schools in/out of session, and other factors. For this reason, comparing week to week is not instructive,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel wrote in an email.
The line, according to Metro’s latest release, is adding about 6,000 new riders to the Metrorail system each day. The other 9,000 riders are former Orange Line riders who have switched to the Silver Line.
The most popular new station? Wiehle-Reston East, with 8,400 boardings, or 16,800 weekday entries and exits, accounting for half the line’s ridership.
Ridership at the Tysons Corner Station is higher on Saturday than the weekdays, with 7,449 entries on Saturday, Sept. 20.
Aaron Wiener contributed to this report. Photo by Perry Stein