Metra Ridership, by the Numbers

Publication Date
Thursday, July 27, 2017

Have you ever wondered where your station ranks in terms of passenger volume? With 241 stations across our six-county region, determining passenger volume allows us to better understand how our system is being used and how potential service adjustments may affect riders.

Since we don't have turnstiles, we can’t know the exact number of passengers at our stations unless we physically count them as they get on and off the trains. The last such “on/off” count was conducted in the spring of 2014. However, we collect approximate ridership numbers by using ticket sales to estimate passenger trips by month and conductor counts to measure passenger loads by individual trains. And then we periodically conduct a census at all stations.

Here are some interesting tidbits from our latest ridership census, conducted in 2016:

  • Route 59 on the BNSF Line retains its title as the busiest station in the Metra system, while the Ivanhoe Station on the Metra Electric Line is exactly average, according to Metra’s 2016 ridership census.
  • There were some minor changes in the rankings for the top 10 busiest stations (see chart). One new station – Tinley Park 80th Avenue on the Rock Island Line – moved into the Top 10 from No. 11 in 2014. Lisle on the BNSF Line fell from 10 in 2014 to 12 in 2016.
  • Route 59 had 5,781 boardings, or 1,674 more than the next closest station, Naperville, also on the BNSF Line, with 4,107.
  • The average number of boardings among Metra’s 236 non-downtown stations is 628, which is exactly the same number that boards at the Ivanhoe Station. Berwyn on the BNSF Line (632) and Wood Dale on the Milwaukee District West (624) were close to average.
  • The busiest stations outside of downtown on each line are: Ravenswood (UP North, No. 3 overall), Glenview (Milwaukee North, No. 24 overall), Buffalo Grove (North Central Service, No. 91), Arlington Heights (UP Northwest, No. 4), Schaumburg (Milwaukee West, No. 15), Elmhurst (UP West, No. 7), Route 59 (BNSF, No. 1), Lemont (Heritage, No. 106), Tinley Park 80th Ave. (Rock Island, No. 8), Oak Lawn (SouthWest Service, No. 30) and 55th-56th-57th St. (Metra Electric, No. 20).
  • Ravenswood remains by far the busiest reverse-commute station outside of downtown (defined as the number of people riding outbound trains in the morning peak period). During the morning rush period, 761 people board outbound trains there. That’s more than the total number of boardings in either direction at 168 non-downtown stations. (Clybourn is a close second, with 738 outbound riders on the UP North and Northwest lines.)
  • The least busy of 236 non-downtown stations was 107th Street on the Metra Electric line, with 19 total boardings.

How will these numbers change throughout the years? We can't predict exactly where the trends will fall, but we will continue to monitor the data year after year. 

For the full report, click here.