D.C. Metro System Ridership in Free Fall
Without factoring in WMATA's Metrorail system, U.S. rail and subway ridership was up .6% between '15 and '16. But when you include the D.C. region's losses, that change becomes a .3% decrease in riders. "Most of the drop in Metro’s ridership can be attributed to the agency’s SafeTrack initiative, which is closing chunks of the system for weeks at a time for long-overdue repairs," Benjamin Freed writes for the Washingtonian.
TransitCenter, the New York research group that originally reported on these figures, says the other piece of the problem is that politicians in the region have not made the system a priority and failed to lead on the issue. Metro's issues look unlikely to be solved by federal money either. "Recently sworn-in Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced last month she will withhold federal funding from DC, Virginia, and Maryland until the three jurisdictions create a new safety commission to oversee Metro," Freed reports.