Transit Briefs: WMATA, PANYNJ/PATH, Baton Rouge-New Orleans Passenger Rail Service, San Diego MTS

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
WMATA photo

WMATA photo

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) upgrades its ridership data portal with more detailed information. Also, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s (PANYNJ) PATH commuter rail system sees consistent growth in 2023; the proposed Baton Rouge to New Orleans passenger train agreement is pushed back; and the San Diego Metropolitan Transportation System (MTS) unveils a 2024 transit security initiative.


WMATA announced Jan. 31 that its ridership data portal now includes a combined look at rail and bus ridership, adds no-tap rail ridership to the rail dashboard to track the effectiveness of anti-fare evasion efforts and provides a more complete picture of total ridership. It also includes Metrobus ridership data based on passenger counting devices on board the vehicles to better account for total ridership.

All data is downloadable for independent analysis.

The ridership data portal was launched in 2019 to give customers, journalists, jurisdictional staff, researchers, the business community, and other stakeholders access to data about the agency’s ridership patterns. Providing open data also promotes transparency and accountability WMATA says.

Some of the trends you can look at in the portal include the changing commute patterns (with stronger ridership on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), the agency’s growing weekend ridership, ridership on popular holidays like the Fourth of July, and the busiest day in recent WMATA history. You can also look at where your home station ranks in ridership among other stations.

WMATA says it is developing a ridership dashboard for MetroAccess in the coming months.


The PATH commuter rail system saw consistent growth through the year. In 2023, the system served 50.5 million passengers, the highest ridership since pre-pandemic 2019. This was a 19% increase over 2022’s passenger volume and 61% of 2019’s total, PANYNJ reported on Jan. 31.

Wikipedia/Trevor Logan photo
Wikipedia/Trevor Logan photo

Average weekday ridership in 2023 was 164,590 passengers. This was 58% of the same figure in 2019. On Saturdays, PATH’s average ridership in 2023 was 93,739 passengers. The figure was 86% of the 2019 average Saturday ridership. Sundays in 2023 saw an average ridership of 70,679 passengers. This was 89% of 2019’s average Sunday ridership.

PATH moved 4.2 million passengers in December 2023. The figure represented 64.7% of December 2019’s total ridership. It was a 3.9% decrease, which was seasonally expected, from November 2023’s total ridership.

Average weekday ridership in December 2023 was 160,301 passengers. The figure was 9.2% lower than November 2023’s average weekday ridership and was 62.1% of December 2019’s average weekday ridership.

Baton Rouge-New Orleans Passenger Rail Service

Passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La., may be facing another delay after the East Baton Rouge Metro Council “deleted an agenda item pertaining to a preliminary agreement for the project” during its Jan. 31 meeting, according to a report in The Advocate.

According to the report, city-parish Transportation and Drainage Director Fred Raiford, who presented before the council on Wednesday, requested a postponement of the issue to “gather more information.”

Raiford, The Advocate reports, said the $20 million RAISE grant, which will be used to help fund a proposed train station in Baton Rouge, also has been delayed to “give the city-parish more time to consider the agreement.”

“I’ve had a lot of communication from the Mayor’s Office about the concerns that we may have in reference to the rail agreement itself,” said Raiford. “I also have been able to find out through the last few weeks that the RAISE grant funding that we were looking at to help facilitate building the actual train station itself has been pushed back to give us more time in regards to evaluating issues.”

At the meeting where the agreement was last discussed, “Council Member Chauna Banks pushed back, citing proposed locations and concerns that north Baton Rouge residents wouldn’t receive the same benefits of the railway that residents in south Baton Rouge would be afforded,” according to the report.

“What you’re dealing with is a segregation of people in the south that will have a playground of transportation, however, further leaving out persons that live in the northern part of the parish,” said Banks at the Dec. 13 meeting.

According to The Advocate report, Raiford on Wednesday said Banks has “structured a meeting with some of her District 2 constituents to ensure he has ‘the best information to make a decision’ about the agreement.”

Raiford, The Advocate reports, said he wants to “take all options into consideration,” and hopes to bring back the item in May.

“Part of the environmental process requires to look at alternates,” Raiford said. “I would rather do that and see what we can do to address that in general and have some factual information we could have to be presented to the council.”

Further Reading:

San Diego MTS

A recent passenger satisfaction survey carried out by the San Diego MTS uncovered that riders want to see a larger security presence on the transit system. In response, the public transit service unveiled plans Jan. 31 to improve security on its Trolley and bus system. MTS officials announced the security initiatives the agency is taking, such as increasing the number of officers, improving visibility and response times.

“We want to show MTS riders our appreciation by letting them know we are listening to their recommendations to improve their riding experience on our system,” said Stephen Whitburn, MTS Board Chair and San Diego City Councilmember. “Riders want to feel safe and seeing an increased security presence during their trip does just that.”

Based on the survey’s findings, last year the MTS Board approved a $4.2 million increase to the security budget to add more Code Compliance Inspectors. This, the agency says, will result in a 60% increase in the number of security officers in the MTS system. Additionally, MTS will increase security officer teams and riders can expect to see officers more frequently during their trip, improving response time.

“Now more than ever, MTS security is more than fare enforcement. It’s about being helpful as well. It’s about having a presence and being visible. It’s about being that lifeline for people when they really need it,” said Steve Goble, MTS Board Vice Chair and El Cajon City Councilmember. “I’d like to thank all MTS security officers for embracing this approach. Our passengers appreciate the role officers play on our system.”

In order to increase security officers’ visible presence on both the Trolley lines and buses, MTS will:

  • Increase security officer “train” teams on Trolley lines from 5-6 teams per shift to 8-10 teams per shift.
  • Double the number of officers patrolling buses.
  • Double the number of officers in plain-clothes.
  • Boost the number of officers conducting homeless outreach to seven-days-a-week coverage.
  • Operate security outposts at busy transit centers to increase visibility.

In addition to staffing plans, MTS consolidated its 24/7 security hotline to one number, which aims to improve response times. Riders will now be able to call or text one number to report incidents on the system. The security hotline number is 619-595-4960.

MTS officials also announced more initiatives coming up this year to make the system better. The service improvements include:

  • 24-hour bus service between the border at downtown.
  • All-day, every day 15-minute service on all three Trolley lines.
  • Increasing the span of service on many popular routes.

MTS riders can also expect the launch of a new payment technology in April, allowing them to just tap a credit or debit card on a validator to pay a fare, bypassing the ticket machine altogether.

Lastly, MTS announced improvements to its stops and stations to keep them safer and cleaner. This includes improved shade and lighting and modernizing the trash collection process.

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