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Charting the Essential Link Between Walkability and Transit

The most highly used Metro stations in DC are also the most walkable. Image: WMATA
Surprise! The DC Metro stations with the most ridership also have the most people living within walking distance. Image: WMATA
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Want to guess which DC Metro stations have the most riders? Your best bet is to count apartment buildings nearby.

New data released by WMATA shows the strong link between Metro station ridership and the number of people who live close to the station -- in other words, how many people can walk to it. Dan Malouff at BeyondDC isn't shocked by any means, but he says the data is interesting nonetheless:

According to WMATA’s PlanItMetro blog, “the more people can walk to transit, the more people do walk to transit -- and data across Metrorail stations prove it.”

All in all, Metro’s stations fit neatly along a trendline that shows a strong correlation between more households nearby and more riders arriving to stations by foot.

Even the outliers tell a story. U Street and Mount Vernon Square have the 6th and 7th highest number of households nearby, but they under perform on walking Metro ridership. One might speculate that Mount Vernon Square is so close to so many offices that more people simply walk. U Street is a little farther away, but it’s still close enough to downtown that buses and bicycles may be better options for a large portion of riders.

One factoid that may in fact surprise is that three of the five most-used stations are not in DC: Two of those stations are in Arlington (Court House and Ballston) and one is in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Elsewhere on the Network today: PubliCola reports that Seattle has struck a compromise on micro-housing. And Urban Review STL runs the numbers to see what Missouri would be collecting from its state gas tax if it had kept pace with the level of revenue in 1996.

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