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Metro Offers Report on Late Night Rail Ridership

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 19, 2009, at 10:47AM
Late Night Red Line Press Conference Eric Richardson [Flickr]

The Pirates Charles performs as the L.A. Kings' Ice Crew looks on at the November kickoff press conference for the Late Night Red Line Holiday Pilot.

The Late Night Red Line Holiday Pilot attracted approximately 1000 riders per night, according to data reported Thursday by Metro. The six-week program extended service until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. The $54,000 needed for operation was funded by businesses and property owners along the route.

While the report did not make any judgments as to whether the pilot was a success, organizers were pleased. "A thousand riders a night is a great result for a small pilot program that got off the ground against the odds, and which had an incredibly compressed time frame for getting the word out," Bringing Back Broadway Executive Director Jessica Wethington Mclean said Friday in an email. "That it happened at all is a testament to the city's business community which funded it and made it happen."

Because Metro does not have turnstiles to track exact ridership, the numbers presented came from a survey conducted on Friday, December 12, and Saturday, December 13. Another survey conducted the next weekend offered roughly the same numbers.

Ridership on the added service was significantly higher in the westbound direction than it was heading east. On Friday, 655 riders boarded going west, while 372 got on to go east. Numbers were similar on Saturday, with 623 westbound and 363 riders eastbound. Much of that distinction comes from an earlier end to normal service westbound. The last regularly scheduled train leaves Union Station at 12:17am, with the same train heading back from North Hollywood at 12:54am.

The extended service added eight runs westbound, and six headed east. A heavy percentage of ridership was in the first few runs, with 58% of westbound riders boarding the first three trains. Ridership was a bit more spread out on Saturday, with the first three runs carrying 44% of passengers.

The report hints that the homeless found the service useful.

Rail Transit Operations Supervisors assigned to oversee the field operations noted that approximately 20-25% of the passengers on each train were “round-trippers”, using the train for purposes other than reaching a specific destination.

No number was given for what a similar "round-tripper" count would be on regularly-scheduled runs.

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