The Metro Board was told yesterday that overall public transit ridership here is "on the upswing" and could be improved still further by adopting several rider-convenience proposals now under consideration.
Among the staff-developed proposals awaiting board approval is publication of a special directory listing shops, restaurants, movies and other "All About Town" features that can be reached by subway. The directory, aimed at off-peak travelers, would cost about $200,000 to produce and is expected to pay for itself through the sale of advertising space.
In addition, the board is weighing the installation of 1,000 bus stop information displays that would appeal to off-peak riders by providing a better guide on how to use public transit and where it goes. Installing all the displays, which have been used only on a demonstration basis so far, would cost about $140,000.
During a briefing before the board's budget committee, Metro's marketing director, John Warrington, urged the regional board to approve what he called the "risk capital" to fund the ridership development projects and cut down on what have been erratic fluctuations in transit use. He also called on the board to authorize a proposed study of ways to increase the use of more convenient flash passes on bus and subway routes.
The board, which yesterday formally installed D.C. Councilman Jerry A. Moore Jr. as chairman, replacing Fairfax County Supervisor Joseph A. Alexander, also was informed of new ridership figures showing that subway ridership is up and bus ridership is down slightly, with overall public transit use in the area increasing. Passenger use should exceed the level of ridership attained in fiscal 1981, and the final ridership tally is expected to be near the higher figure reached in fiscal 1980, the year of the fuel crisis, according to Metro General Manager Richard S. Page.
The new ridership figures for September through November showed Metrorail average weekday use increased by more than 16,000 daily trips in October and by nearly25,000 daily trips in November compared to ridership during those same months a year ago. Winter months usually are low ridership periods for public transit here, but November ridership was about 5.8 million in November compared to about 5.2 million the previous November.
The increase in rail ridership was attributed to normal growth in passengers and the addition of the Addison Road Line, which generated about 8,000 to10,000 new daily riders. December figures reflecting ridership along the Red Line extension to Van Ness Center were not available, although addition of those three stations is believed to have generated 15,000 to 17,000 new rides a day.
Average weekday bus ridership declined somewhat from levels reached during the September-November period a year ago. November bus passengers numbered 10.7 million this past November compared to 10.9 million a year ago. The decline was attributed to the diversion of bus riders to Metrorail's Addison Road Line and the loss of ridership because of service reductions and a January 1981 fare increase.