This comes from 2014 weekday ridership, data based on boardings in both directions. The Metro Red and Purple lines, which together constitute the heavy rail transit system in LA, have the highest ridership, with above 150,000 boardings a day.
The busiest stations are all transfer points: Union Station for the Gold Line and Metrolink, 7th/Metro Center for the Blue and Expo Lines, Wilshire/Vermont for transfers between the Red and Purple Line branches, and North Hollywood for the Orange Line busway.
When reading this chart, remember that stations between Wilshire/Vermont and Union Station are served by twice the number of trains as the stations past Wilshire/Vermont.
Union Station by far is the busiest station on the line, where most passengers get off and transfer to the Red/Purple Lines. Few passengers actually ride through between the Eastside Extension and the line to Pasadena, i.e. this station has very high turnover.
We can also see that ridership is relatively weak on the Eastside Extension after Little Tokyo, as well as at inner stations between Los Angeles and Highland Park.
Sierra Madre Villa has a large park-and-ride structure, which might in part account for its high ridership. This will probably even out after the Foothill Extension opens in 2015/2016.
Metro’s newest light rail line has been open for three years, allowing time for ridership patterns to mature. These will probably change again once the extension to Santa Monica opens, but let’s see how ridership stands right now.
The terminals at 7th/Metro Center and Culver City see high ridership. Culver City, Crenshaw, and La Cienega stations have large park-and-ride facilities available, with free parking.
Farmdale station has the lowest ridership on the line. This station was added for political reasons, after neighborhood groups and advocates like Fix Expo claimed that the grade crossing would be a threat to local high school students. It is in a relatively low-density location.
The Blue Line is Metro’s oldest light rail line, in operation for more than 20 years. Ridership has steadily grown to about 85,000 every weekday. As would be expected, the busiest stations are Imperial/Wilmington and 7th/Metro Center, both transfer points to other rail lines.
There charts fave displayed total boardings in both directions, but the stations at Pacific, 1st and 5th Streets are served only in one direction. This distorts results. 5th and 1st have many more alightings than boardings; Pacific has many more boardings than alightings. Added together, the one-way stations on the Long Beach terminal loop are comparable to other stations along the line.
Outside of the loop, the lowest ridership stations are Wardlow and Washington. The former is located in a low-to-medium density residential neighborhood in Long Beach, and the latter is in a mostly industrial area of Los Angeles.
The Green Line runs mostly along the median of the 105 freeway, between Aviation and Norwalk stations. Stations past Aviation have very low ridership. These stops are located in suburban office park districts. That kind of neighborhood design does not have many potential passengers and is not especially conducive to high transit ridership.
Imperial/Wilmington has the highest ridership along the line, as a transfer point to the Blue Line. Norwalk comes in second, with its massive 2,000-spot park-and-ride.
Let’s look at the busiest stations in the system. This measurement is biased in favor of transfer points. The data is based off boardings, not station entries, so a transferring passenger may be double-counted.
- 7th/Metro Center – 48,829
- Union Station – 33,775
- Imperial/Wilmington – 19,729
- North Hollywood – 16,671
- Wilshire/Vermont – 12,472
- Pershing Square – 10,803
- Westlake/MacArthur Park – 9,218
- Hollywood/Highland – 8,877
- Universal City: 7,806
- Hollywood/Vine: 6,507.
Civic Center and Pico are close at #11 and #12
Now let’s examine the stations with the lowest ridership. This excludes the one-way stations on the Long Beach terminal loop.
- Maravllla – 515
- East L.A. Civic Center – 805
- Heritage Square (tie) – 821
- Douglas/Rosecrans (tie) – 821
- Southwest Museum – 867
- El Segundo/Nash – 878
- Mariachi Plaza – 902
- Farmdale – 916
- Pico/Aliso – 976
Many stations here are on the Eastside Gold Line extension, Inner Gold Line along the Arroyo Seco, and the Green Line in El Segundo.
Here’s an average of boardings and alightings for the Long Beach loop, in order to show a comparable figure of ridership. For other stations, boardings and alightings should be about equal.
- 1st Street- 1,052
- 5th Street – 1,771
- Pacific – 838
By these figures, Pacific would be one of the 10 least used stations on the system. 1st Street would be about #11.
If this topic interests you, I also recommend the very astute analyses of Metrolink Ridership by Let’s Go LA.