November 08, 2004
A tale of two usage reports

Take a look at these two stories and see if you see what I see:

Record rail ridership

October numbers released last week show 32,941 average weekday boardings, up 2 percent from the 32,292 recorded in September. That was the first month the daily ridership count topped 30,000.

Average weekend ridership also went up 2 percent compared with September's count, not counting three Sundays in October when the Houston Texans played home games at Reliant Stadium. MetroRail ridership typically doubles on a Sunday home game.

The record weekend count remains from January, when an average 41,648 people per weekend rode the train during its inaugural month of service.

Total ridership, including special events, for October was 853,542, up 4.5 percent from September's record high.

Metro collects ridership data through "automatic passenger counter" devices embedded above train doors.

Westpark Toll Road usage increases

The Westpark Tollway is attracting new customers as it continues being built farther west, according to the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

HCTRA opened the Westpark's first segment, from the Galleria area to Old Westheimer Road, in May. It's the first toll road in the country where drivers must pay with an electronic transponder.

Though a dispute with a contractor has stalled completion of the critical interchange at Beltway 8, the tollway lanes are now open west to Texas 6.

Eastbound lanes opened from Howell Sugarland Road, just east of Texas 6, last month. The westbound side, which includes an exit ramp to Texas 6, was completed in September.

Mike Strech, HCTRA director, said traffic counts show the new westbound lanes were popular immediately.

"Our traffic jumped by almost 7,000 transactions in the first week alone," Strech said of the westbound opening.

Both of these read like press releases (though the HCTRA press releases page hasn't been updated in months, and I can't find Metro's press releases), but that's not what I'm interested in. Note how Metro gives us exact ridership numbers, even though they're likely just estimates, while HCTRA gives us basically nothing even though they ought to know exactly what their totals are thanks to the EZPass toll collectors? Can anyone explain to me why one organization is apparently so much more forthcoming than the other?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 08, 2004 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

Well, if nothing else, the Houston light rail already has a larger daily ridership than the Staten Island Railway. ;-)

Posted by: William Hughes on November 8, 2004 7:18 PM

I just want to say what a pleasure the light rail is for an out of towner who has to visit the medical center. I live in the Hill Country and was recently diagnosed with cancer and now go to M.D. Anderson. The rail allows us to stay downtown, enjoy downtown and take the rail to the center. My experience is that the rail is well used and well worth the investment it took to move this many people in a fast and efficient manner. Way to go Houston.

Posted by: charles on November 9, 2004 8:02 PM