Red Line ridership off 10% after derailment
During week after incident tap-ins were off 5.9 percent
RED LINE RIDERSHIP dropped roughly 10 percent the week a train derailed at the JFK/UMass Station and it only partially recovered the following week, according to the latest figures available.
The number of so-called tap-ins on the Red Line – people using Charlie Cards or tickets to pass through the fare gates – typically hovers either slightly below or slightly above 200,000 a day during the week. Mondays and Fridays are typically just below 200,000, while tap-ins regularly exceed 200,000 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
On Tuesday June 11, when a Red Line train derailed at the JFK/UMass Station, tap-ins fell to just above 150,000, or 25 percent less than usual. Ridership rebounded on Wednesday to just under 200,000, but then fell back to around 175,000 the next two days.
The following week, as it became clear that the damage caused by the derailment would cause continued delays of up to 20 minutes on the Red Line, tap-ins never topped 200,000.
During the second week of June 2019, when the derailment occurred, the average number of tap-ins was 181,236, off 10.3 percent from 2018 levels. During the third week of June, the average number of tap-ins was 190,126, down 5.9 percent from 2018 levels.
“We are pleased to see in week three that there was recovery, there was less of a drop,” said Laurel Paget-Seekins, the T’s assistant general manager for policy.
The big question is whether ridership will fully rebound. MBTA officials say the derailment knocked out three sheds at the JFK/UMass Station filled with electronic signal and switching equipment. While the equipment is being replaced, the T is manually controlling train traffic in the vicinity around JFK/UMass, which is slowing down travel by up to 20 minutes. Officials say the system is unlikely to be back to normal until Labor Day.
It’s unclear whether riders who abandoned the Red Line in the wake of the derailment shifted to other forms of transit (commuter rail or bus are possibilities) or whether they shifted to personal vehicles or ride-hailing apps.
The Red Line is the MBTA’s busiest subway line. Subways handle nearly 60 percent of all MBTA trips on a daily basis. The subway system has been struggling to build ridership, and the derailment undoubtedly set that effort back.
The biggest dropoff in ridership during the week of the derailment occurred at stations in the immediate vicinity of the JFK/UMass station, where delays were most severe. Compared to 2018 levels, tap-ins were down 27 percent at the Red Line’s Quincy stations (Braintree, Quincy Adams, Quincy Center, and North Quincy) and nearly 23 percent at the Dorchester stations (Ashmont, Shawmut, Fields Corner, Savin Hill, JFK/UMass). The following week tap-ins were down 15.6 percent at the Quincy stations and 9.3 percent at the Dorchester stations compared to typical 2018 levels.Tap-ins were also off at the South Boston stations (Andrew and Broadway) on the Red Line – 14.1 percent the week of the derailment and 11 percent the following week.
Paget-Seekins said her analysis of the data indicated the decline in tap-ins was more pronounced at morning peak travel times on the Quincy and Dorchester branches of the Red Line.