It's time to scrutinise TfL's latest splurge of passenger data for the tram network. Tube and bus totals they publish every year, but tram usage has to be prised out of them via a Freedom of Information Request. Figures are for passenger boarders during the calendar year 2017, as recorded by Automatic Passenger Counting System.
n.b. Passengers exiting trams are not counted. Also about 20% of boarders go uncounted because of either missing or faulty APC equipment. Passengers totals are therefore less than half of what might have been reported in previous years. However Anorak Corner is about ordering, not absolutes, and overall ranking is not affected.
The ten busiest tram stops (2017)(with changes since 2013) 1) -- East Croydon (3.2m) 2) -- Wimbledon (1.8m) 3) ↑1 West Croydon (1.0m) 4) ↑2 Church Street (959,000) 5) ↓2 George Street (928,000) 6) ↓1 Sandilands (852,000) 7) -- New Addington (725,000) 8) -- Mitcham (676,000) 9) ↑1 Therapia Lane (664,000) 10) ↑1 Ampere Way (615,000)
It's no surprise that the busiest tram stops are where the railways are: East and West Croydon plus Wimbledon. East Croydon is busier than the 15 least used tram stops put together. Church Street and George Street are the busiest stops on the town centre loop (meanwhile Wellesley Road is back in 15th, and Centrale is ten places further behind). Sandilands scores highly as a place of interchange just before lines split. New Addington's high total reflects the outlying suburb's reliance on its tram connection. Mitcham appears four places higher than Mitcham Junction. Therapia Lane and Ampere Way serve a trading estate and of course Croydon's IKEA.
The ten least busy tram stops (2017)(with changes since 2013) 1) -- Avenue Road (62,000) 2) ↑1 Birkbeck (105,000) 3) ↑2 Harrington Road (126,800) 4) ↑4 Beckenham Road (127,100) 5) ↓3 Coombe Lane (132,000) 6) ↑3 Reeves Corner (153,000) 7) ↓3 Beddington Lane (166,000) 8) ↓2 Dundonald Road (192,000) 9) ↑1 King Henry's Drive (224,000) 10) ↑2 Gravel Hill (266,000)
The four least used tram stops are all on the Beckenham Junction branch... indeed they're every tram stop on that branch except the terminus. Birkbeck is also London's 8th least used National Rail station. Coombe Lane is probably the network's most remote tram stop, deep in the Addington Hills. Reeves Corner may be central but only serves trams heading east. Dundonald Road is the last stop before Wimbledon, and King Henry's Drive the last stop before New Addington. Gravel Hill is the only new entry in the Top 10 since 2013, replacing Elmers End (which is a lot more popular now).
The Least Used tram stop: Avenue Road
An unimaginative name for a street makes an unhelpful name for a tram stop. Avenue Road is a smart Victorian street between Anerley and Beckenham, running downhill from the big Nissan/Travelodge on the Croydon Road to a dead end at the railway line. Here a modern footbridge cuts across the divide, none-too-welcomingly, and only from the other side is there access to the tram stop. Initially this was a two-track railway, then in 1983 one track was lifted, then in 2000 the spare half was reused for Tramlink. Today trams and trains run side by side. At Birkbeck that means facing platforms, but Avenue Road is where the passing loop was slotted so it feels more like your typical tram stop. It also feels quite cut off, watched over solely by woody back gardens, a wall of rear windows and anyone on that footbridge. The two adjacent tram stops are only quarter of a mile distant, on busier roads with multiple bus connections, hence the limited catchment here. Only 170 passengers a day start their journeys at Avenue Road, and it was no surprise that none of them were present when I dropped by.