The Red Line's three new stations, the first in upper Northwest, have generated something under 17,000 new rides per weekday for the rail system, Metro officials said yesterday. The passenger turnout is higher than they had predicted.

Metro planners had not expected rail ridership to rise in such volume until after Jan. 31, when some Connecticut Avenue bus routes will be curtailed or eliminated in an effort to channel more commuters into the rail system.

The figures were welcome news for Metro officials, who are concerned over how the fare increase instituted earlier this month will affect ridership. Total system ridership declined slightly last fiscal year, largely due to two fare increases that year, but Metro officials predict a slight rise this year.

So far, Van Ness has been the busiest of the new stations, with faregates recording an average of about 7,500 boardings and alightings per weekday in its first week of operation, according to transit analyst Wayne Thompson.

About 3,300 trips began or ended daily at Cleveland Park and 4,700 at Woodley Park-Zoo, the faregates showed. (These figures do not include passengers who used flash passes, however. Systemwide, they account for about 10 percent of ridership.)

That adds up to about 15,500 rides registered at the three stations, or about 17,000 total when flash-pass rides are added. Before the opening, about 280,000 rides were taken daily in Metrorail. However, not all of the 17,000 can be added to that figure, because an unknown number were taken by people who already used the rail system at other stations.

The new stations have also affected ridership at Dupont Circle and Farragut North, surveys show. Use of Dupont Circle has fallen by about 2,300 boardings and alightings daily, as people who formerly took buses to the station from upper Connecticut Avenue board at the new stations, Thompson said.

But activity at Farragut North, another bus transfer point, has risen by about 3,000 boardings and alightings daily, to the surprise of Metro planners, Thompson said. Metro planners believe this is due to commuters who formerly took buses to offices near the station switching to rail.

No figures were available concerning how much bus ridership has declined as a result of the stations' opening. But Thompson said it is likely that the bus loss is more than offset by the pickup in rail.