WMATA examines factors driving declining ridership

Officials say WMATA ridership is down five percent since 2015

NORTHERN, Va. - “It’s much easier and quicker to get an Uber, just at the touch of a button, than to wait for a train, park and walk all the way into the station,” said Jeffrey Hosselrode, rider.   

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority believes ride-sharing apps are partially to blame for a decline in their ridership. 

Thursday, the finance committee met to review the challenges they're facing. 

“I mean, it does break down a lot,” said rider Benjamin Swartz. 

Following a catastrophic accident in 2015, the Metro has been working on continuous repairs, often single-tracking, and most commuters displaced by the maintenance do not use Metro buses as an alternative.

Hosselrode typically avoids the metro but said it has some advantages. 

“It was cheaper to ride in on the Metro than to pay for parking at the airport,” he laughed. 

On Thursday, even WMATA had to admit that its competition has advantages. For example, if you purchase an Uber from Potomac Avenue to Bethesda, it costs $4.40. The same ride on the Metro is $4.20 and 52 minutes longer. 

“I think it’s still about the same as taking the Metro,” said Swartz. 

Swartz, who lives in Loudoun County, said the Metro still makes more sense for him. 

“I don’t want to deal with the traffic getting into D.C. The traffic's ugly, and now, they're adding tolls for the Washington Beltway and I-66. It’s just too expensive,” he added. 

A report released by the District's Office of Revenue Analysis showed that for longer trips between the center of the city and the suburbs, Metro is cheaper and quicker than Uber, but for trips within the city that require a Metro transfer, especially when wait times are long, Uberpool can be nearly as affordable. 

Another factor that's being examined by the committee is working from home; the Bureau of Labor's statistics said, in 2015, 24 percent of employed people did all or some work from home.  

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