Ridership for Metrorail Orange Line’s first full month, August 2012, were recently released. Let’s see how the new Orange Line (and Miami Airport station) have affected the amount of passengers on the system. The Orange Line opened on July 28, 2012, so August figures provide us the first real glimpse at the line’s first month in operation.
Ridership on the entire Metrorail system was 61,300 passengers in July 2012, rising slightly to 62,100 in August 2012. How much of this slight increase is attributable to the Orange Line is questionable as ridership always drops in the summer time in Miami. Understandably so. Summer makes riding transit less convenient. Less people are willing to put up with hot, muggy weather and unpredictable and frequent rainstorms. As autumn comes around and temperatures begin to “cool,” ridership climbs, usually reaching the highest passenger counts in February or March.
The slight increase from 61,300 passengers in July to 62,100 in August 2012 is nominal, but when compared to 2011’s ridership figures, is a more significant increase, constituting about 3,000 more daily passengers in August 2012 than August 2011.
The new Miami Airport station averaged 1,766 weekday passengers for the four days it operated in July 2012. In August 2012, this dropped to 1,274 passengers. The drop is surprising as the station has received accolades for its popularity amongst riders. Early studies were predicting 7,500 daily weekday passengers. That would put the Miami Airport station as the second-busiest station in the system after Government Center, which averages about 11-12,000 daily passengers and before the next busiest station, Dadeland South, with 6-8,000 daily passengers.
It’ll take at least six months to really tell how successful the new station and line will be and how these will affect ridership levels throughout the entire Metro system. What is certain is that the new Orange Line and airport station have improved the Metro experience for everyone- more trains, more service frequencies and finally connecting the city’s neighborhoods to one of the world’s busiest airports.