About 8,000 people rode Expo Line to USC game on Saturday

Fans en route to the USC game on Saturday on the Expo Line. Photo by Marc Littman/Metro.

The ridership numbers from Metro are in and here’s the skinny: an estimated 8,000 people rode the Expo Line on Saturday to and from USC’s home opener against the University of Hawaii at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In addition, Metro estimates that 4,000 to 6,000 of those fans reached or traveled from the Expo Line via other Metro buses or trains. In total, there were about 22,000 boardings on Metro on Saturday related to the game.

USC is listing the attendance at the game at 93,607, which means that about 8.5 percent of those who went to the game were delivered there by the Expo Line.

The next USC home game is Saturday, Sept. 22, against Cal. The game time has yet to be announced.

17 replies

    • Hi Vic;

      I don’t have the ridership numbers for individual bus lines for that day. I’ll see if I can rustle something up but no guarantees.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  1. I think they should keep the monthly all-you-can-ride pass for those that have longer commutes. But for those that have shorter commutes, $75 per month may not be worth it and they would be better off under a distance based fare structure.

    It’s kind of a like a cell phone plan if you think about it. If you travel 20 miles each way to work, you’re better off with a monthly pass. But if you only travel less than 10 miles round-trip daily or if the place where you live and work is only two stations apart, you’ll be better off on a pay-by-the-distance fare.

    In either case, I agree that the current $1.50 flat rate structure has its limits, especially in a city as big and diverse as LA. Eventually, Metro will have to raise fares, and if they do, it just gets more unfair for those who have shorter commutes and they’ll just go back to driving. If Metro decides that due to budget contraints to keep up with operational costs that they need to raise the monthly pass to $100 and raise flat rate fares to $2.00 per ride, those that have shorter commutes will begin to say “it’s not worth it, I’m going back to the car.”

  2. I think can imagine a tap-in, tap-out system coming to Metro, but first all stations will need to be outfitted not only with turnstiles but more secure turnstiles to boot as I’ve already begun to see folks hopping the turnstiles (even the unlocked ones) and using the emergency exit gates. Since all stations are unstaffed, I would figure more secure turnstiles (or station staffing) will have to be in Metro’s future if/when they move to distance-based fares.

    I’m OK with distance-based fares as long as I can keep my monthly all-you-can-ride pass. (The flat fee really encourages me to use transit whenever possible as opposed to a stored-value card which encourages me to spend less and drive more, FWIW.)

  3. David,

    Metro has stated blog board that they are looking to move to distance based fares once the Regional Connector is built.

    It’s the only way to be fair for everyone. It doesn’t make sense for one to be charged $1.50 taking an one station ride from Little Tokyo to Union Station while another can go from Venice Beach to Montclair for the same price.

    And practically everybody else that gets transit right (London, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) all uses distance based fares over flat rate fares. Shorter the ride, the cheaper you pay, the longer the ride, the more you pay. It’s practically becoming a global standard. And such a fare system has proven to be show better farebox recovery ratios that makes them more self-sufficient with less or no taxpayer dependency.

    And in order to get full fare system integration going on, it has to be done. As it stands today, Metrolink and Metro Rail is totally incompatible with each other and is hard to implement using TAP. The former uses distance based fares the other uses pay per ride fares. If fare integration is to be done, you have to choose one or the other. And I doubt Metrolink will be for $1.50 rides from Union Station to Orange County or Ventura County, so the ball is in Metro’s court to adapt to the distance based fare system.

    And no, LA isn’t the only one looking at this.

    CTA in Chicago is also considering the change.

    UTA in Salt Lake City is going to switch to that system soon as well.

    The change to distance based fares are being discussed all over the US from Atlanta’s MARTA to Seattle’s SoundLink.

    When Boston’s MBTA recently aised their fares, the option of moving to distance based fares like Washington DC Metro was on the table.

    Many transit experts agree that distance based fare structures are the way to go instead of flat rate policies:

    It’s the way things are going, and I assume Metro will have to adapt to changing times at some point as well.

    Besides, you can’t keep on doing fare hikes over fare hikes over and over again just to cover the cost of running public transit as the system expands. Keep that up, you’ll end up $3, $4, $5 flat rate fares which really makes no sense at all to travel short distances; everyone will go back to driving their cars because you end up saving more driving anything under 10 miles than taking public transit. How stupid is that and it defeats the purpose of public transit.

    Get used to it, distance based fares will be coming soon to Metro.

    • I don’t think it’s accurate to say that distance-based fares are coming soon. The agency has said before that it will look at different fare structures in the future — there’s no disputing that. But there’s no timetable as to when that may happen, nor is there a current proposal on the table. It’s also worth noting that the Regional Connector has not even begun construction yet.

      In other words, the current fare structure is what we have for now. If or when something else is proposed, I’ll report about it here.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Wow! 8,000 round trips implies 16,000 boardings, which is almost 90% of a typical weekday, and all of that ridership was packed into a few hours before the game, and even less time after the game. Those trains after the game must have been packed to the gills, and yet I didn’t see a single complaint about overcrowding in the comments. Amazing! Do you know how often trains were leaving USC after the game and how long it took to clear out the crush load demand?
    Also, do the ridership estimates tell you anything about the directionality of the trips? I.e. were more passengers coming from downtown (with possible connections to the Blue Line and Red Line) or from the Westside, or was it an even mix?

    • Nearly all the game attendees were cleared from the station by 9 p.m. Because the game was a blowout, a lot of people left early and that helped ease crowding at the stations.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. Realist; are you saying Metro has in it’s future plans to start charging by distance, just like a public transportation system in the Bay Area? If so, that’s a stupid idea.

    I think the current Metro fare system is stupid!

    If I’m at Wilshire & Normandie on the Purple Line and take a three stop ride to Vermont/Beverly that would be $3 because I would have to transfer to trains. But, I could ride the entire Red Line, about 12 stops, for $1.50.

    I wish Metro in LA was like the NY subway system, where once you’re in the “system” you don’t have to pay for transfers etc.

  6. John J.

    Metro is not a tap-in & tap-out system. Being said that, Metro only counts boardings (tap-ins), but does not do offs (tap-out) so numbers are vague and uncertain. At best, the numbers Metro provides will always be a guesstimate, which could lead to questions and tax payer concerns like yours, unless they decide to implement a tap-out system like most transit oriented cities around the world.

    Eventually, Metro will need to look implementing a tap-out process as the system expands and ridership numbers increase to start reporting true ridership figures and true average distances. It will be needed when Metro decides to revamp the fare system to implement distance based fares in the future as well. Eventually it has to happen as it won’t make financial sense to have a single flat rate fare all the way from Santa Monica to Ontario Airport, without regard that it won’t be fair to those who only need it for one or two station worth of rides as opposed to those that ride end-to-end once the Regional Connector is built.

    My take is that Metro should start doing this now rather than later. It’ll cost more to do this when there is a full system in place.

  7. oops, and also, did you know where they were getting on/off? i was curious if they parked somewhere and rode one or two stops or actually planned a trip out and did the majority of the trip on metro. i don’t know if you can determine that from the data, but i was curious… thanks!

    • Hi Sahra;

      Not sure of the stations, but I assume most were Exposition Park/USC or Vermont, with some Jeffersons thrown into the mix.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. Just to clarify, those 8,000 were boardings to and from, meaning probably about 4,000 people? Or were there 16,000 boardings, resulting in the estimate of 8,000 riders? Thanks!

  9. Why are the numbers that Metro provides always only estimated numbers?

    It doesn’t really make it convincing if Metro can only provide estimate numbers which lacks any way to show if the numbers are accurate or not.

    If anything, Metro can say 10,000 people went to the game using Expo, so give us more of your tax dollars to support public transit, but we can’t give you a true number, and we won’t tell you how we came up with that number. It’s not what I call a clear cut government figure.

    If Metro expects us to vote for Measure J, they need to come up with something more solid than just estimates.

    • Hi John;

      We use the word “estimate” because it’s hard to know for certain where people go once they get off the train. We can’t tell you for certain that every single person that exited the train or boarded it near USC was at the Coliseum. That said, Metro is comfortable with the numbers released and the agency believes it’s an accurate portrayal of the numbers who used Metro to reach the game.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source