Study: Metro Overcrowding Rare, Busiest Trains Often Below Ridership Capacity

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File photo of a Metro train. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

File photo of a Metro train. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Metro Surveys Overcrowding

All News 99.1 WNEW

WASHINGTON (WNEW) — People love to hate Metro, but are the trains actually as cramped and crowded as riders claim?

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority says research into the “customer perspective on the passengers-per-car crowding standard” shows that despite riders’ seemingly constant claims that trains are too packed at the busiest stations during peak rush hours, the opposite is true.

WMATA, which is discussing the crowding issue at a meeting Thursday, says that the average number of passengers per car (PPC) often is below the minimum capacity level (80 PPC). Only during peak rush hours are trains close to maximum capacity level (120 PPC), and even then most cars often fall closer to the optimum capacity range (100 PPC).

“Reported rush period PPC often fell below the minimum,” the report states. “The PPC data do not match customer reports of crowded trains leading to complaints about poor service.”

WMATA says the data was collected by “trained staff who observe trains at the busiest stations in AM/PM rush period.”

One of the stations WMATA examined during its research was L’Enfant Plaza. The report states that during one rush hour period, 10 of 14 trains had railcars within the PPC standard (80-120). WMATA says riders on the middle cars experience the most crowding, while cars near the ends usually had less passengers.

WMATA says its new eight-car trains will help alleviate any perceived crowding during rush hour.

Collecting data on capacity during non-rush hours is not available, WMATA says.

“Non-rush period PPC is not currently collected and reported due to lack of resources,” the report states.

WNEW’s Jim MacKay contributed to this report. Follow Jim on Twitter.

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