The Origins of Metro’s 26 Trains Per Hour Limit

August 22nd, 2016 3 comments

Why can’t Metrorail reliably operate more than 26 trains per hour per direction? A 2001 study defined the basis for determining this constraint.

Although it has been known for years, the July 2014 opening of the Silver Line and corresponding reduction of rush hour Blue Line service highlighted that Metro cannot schedule more than 26 trains per hour (or a train every 2-2.5 minutes) across any point in its rail network. Though it’s been discussed many times through the years, let’s explain this limit in detail now.


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Identifying Metro’s Growing non-English Speaking Communities

August 17th, 2016 1 comment

With a wide variety of languages spoken in our region, Metro uses the latest Census data to inform how we reach out to the diverse communities we serve.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) guidance to transit agencies on meeting the needs of limited English proficient (LEP) populations – i.e., those who have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English – says that the agency should provide written translation of vital documents for “each eligible language group that constitutes 5 percent or 1,000 persons, whichever is less, of the total population of persons ‘eligible to be served’.” For a region like ours, that’s a pretty tall order as there are more than 26 non-English language groups where there are more than 1,000 speakers of the language. However, by aggregating the latest Census-based language data for areas near our Metrorail stations and bus routes, we can develop a better understanding of the linguistic diversity in Metro’s service area as well as the proportion of LEP persons.

To ensure rider communication and meaningful public outreach to these language populations, Metro develops a Language Assistance Plan that is updated every three years, with the next update due in 2017.   The Census language data developed for this document guides the types of  information we need to translate and helps inform our public outreach activities.   This latest round of language data shows that the top seven languages spoken in our service area are Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, French, Arabic and Amharic. For these languages, we provide written translations of all vital materials and offer language assistance services upon request. The map below shows the predominant LEP populations near each Metrorail Station along with the proportion of LEP speakers for each language.

LEP system Map 1

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Introducing S.W.A.R.M. – Another Tool For Your TOD Toolkit

August 11th, 2016 1 comment

A new tool helps estimate ridership and revenue from transit-oriented development projects near Metrorail stations.  Download it for yourself!

Waterfront Sta aerial

For months we have been detailing our work that quantifies the relationship between land use and rail ridership. This is important because Metrorail has been experiencing large changes in ridership, and we were interesting interested in understanding why certain station areas – like Navy Yard and NoMa – were showing ridership gains while the system as a whole is experiencing losses in the long arc of ridership growth.

To get to the bottom of this, we worked with researchers from the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth to analyze how walk ridership at a Metrorail station relates to its surrounding land uses, and create a tool that accurately estimates the likely change in ridership from changes in land uses. This tool, the Station Walk Area Ridership Model (or S.W.A.R.M., for short), helps us estimate the potential impacts of land use changes – new households, new jobs (by type of employment!), and even changes in the station’s walkshed – on ridership and revenue to Metrorail. Read more…

Help Metro Get Smarter: Now Hiring Business Intelligence Analyst

August 4th, 2016 1 comment

If you are great with data and love cities and transit, we have a job for you.

now_hiring-01

We were excited to announce that a job listing for a Business Intelligence Analyst position within Planning’s Applied Planning Intelligence unit has just been posted.  We are looking for a healthy overlap between a data scientist and a transit nerd.  For the full job description, head over to the wmata.com/careers site, scroll down and click on View all jobs.  A short description is posted below.

Currently a team of two, we work to convert Metro’s many data sources into information that can be used to inform plans, policies and procedures.  Many of our projects have been featured here on PlanItMetro, including:

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Metro Developer Coffee Chats a Success! Thank You Developers!

July 29th, 2016 No comments

Metro’s commitment to developers was well received following our informal “Coffee Chat” event designed to foster connections between and among Metro and the developer community.

Wednesday, Metro set aside some time for Developer Coffee Chats to enable dialogue between Metro’s API users and other developers. The informal event proved successful, with numerous developers taking advantage of the resources available to them (provided both by Metro and by their developer peers). Although several topics were discussed, the clear focal point was Metro’s Real-Time Train Position API, released last week through the General Manager’s CARe Initiative.

Metro Developer Coffee Chat Photo

Metro staff members engaged in various dialogues with third-party developers

At the event, several developers spoke with Metro’s API team to seek guidance regarding the technical backend of their apps and others simply showed Metro their work for feedback and suggestions for implementing new features. One attendee commented on the quality of Metro’s API documentation, crediting the documentation with enabling him to move from building local-apps and scripts to building a full-fledged Metro app using the APIs. Read more…

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We Heard You! MyTripTime Provides Personalized Information On Your Metrorail Trips

July 28th, 2016 6 comments

Starting Wednesday, July 27th, Metrorail customers can see their own, personal on-time score for trips that they’ve taken over the past 90 days by logging into the SmarTrip website.

Metro has a long history of reporting system-wide performance via our quarterly Vital Signs reports. However, our customers often say that this information doesn’t resonate with their own experience because it averages things out across all operating hours and all stations.

Customers: we heard you! MyTripTime reports your own, personal on-time score based on every trip that you’ve taken over the past 90 days.

Screenshot of My

Screenshot of MyTripTime, from smartrip.wmata.com

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Are You a Metro Data User? Let’s Talk!

July 25th, 2016 No comments

Metro is committed to working with the developer community –  we’ve launched a real-time train position API, are hosting developer coffee chats this Wednesday (7/27) from 4pm to 6pm, created a developer google group, and are seeking submissions for an App Gallery!

If you frequently monitor Metro news, you’ll have already seen some of Metro’s latest developments regarding the commitment to open data and third-party developers. Most notably, Metro last week released a real-time train position API, making it possible to identify the specific locations of trains in the system at a given time.

real_time_map

Screen capture of Metro’s internal real-time train positions map. Now, third-party developers can make their own versions of this using a recently released data feed.

We can’t wait to see what you do with the data. But we know you’ll have questions. That’s why we’re hosting an informal “Coffee Chat” this Wednesday, July 27, at Compass Coffee on F Street (near the Gallery Place-Chinatown station and 70/74/D6 buses). Stop by any time from 4pm to 6pm to say hello, show us something on your computer, or ask us questions!

Two other notable updates, Metro now has created a google group to serve as the intra-developer community forum and will be launching an “App Gallery” to showcase apps available for the Metro system.

Walk This Way – Metro’s Planning Office at APTA’s Rail Conference

July 11th, 2016 No comments

Metro shared its Station Area Investment Plan with the APTA Rail Conference attendees – and met with rave reviews.

I recently had the opportunity to present our Station Area Strategic Investment Plan to the over 1,500 attendees at APTA’s Rail Conference.  Many thanks to APTA’s Sustainability and Urban Design Standards program for footing the bill for this trip to Phoenix. It was 117 degrees there, and tested even my desire for walkable urbanism, but that’s another story entirely.

The presentation highlighted the Office of Planning’s work to quantify the return on investment of station area accessibility improvements, work with local jurisdictions, to prioritize these improvements based on an analytical platform, and identify the appropriate funding mechanisms to get these improvements built.

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TOD in Prince George’s County Getting off the Ground

July 7th, 2016 1 comment

Prince George’s County’s bold new vision for transit-oriented development deserves attention and support!

For more than a decade, regional planners and economic development officials have lamented the relative lack of development around Prince George’s County Metrorail stations, and yours truly had opportunities to challenge its leadership to up its game in accelerating transit-oriented development policy and practice more than a few times.  On this blog, we’ve highlighted how lack of development has hindered ridership growth from the County, and we’ve articulated the benefits that would accrue to the region if Prince George’s County were to achieve the development potential of its Metrorail stations – in fact, Metrorail might just run an operating surplus if those areas were developed.

Now we all have reason to cheer and hope that these challenges and aspirational goals might be more than just wish lists and a hope certificate.

TOD in Prince Georges County Mar 2016 Read more…

Would a Cordon Charge Help Stabilize Metro’s Finances? (Part 4)

July 5th, 2016 2 comments

Adding a London-style cordon charge (or fee) to enter much of the region’s central employment area would increase transit ridership across all modes and also reduce (or eliminate) the subsidy that local governments pay every year to support Metro, meaning lower tax bills for regional residents.*

(This post is part of a multi-part series about ConnectGreaterWashington (CGW) a study that WMATA completed in 2015 and its application of land use and pricing as a transportation strategy.)

Approach for Building Scenario B to make Transit More Cost-Effective

Scenario “B” looked at land use shifts and increasing the price of driving, and how those changes would impact Metro.

Metro asked, “What if the region’s future growth was used to fulfill the expectations of regional plans such as Region Forward and Place + Opportunity? What if transit-supportive policies were implemented across the region? Would WMATA benefit? Would the region?”

Answer: YES!!

*Note that Metro is not proposing that the region adopt a cordon charge, but it was tested as part of an analysis of how smarter land use and more transit-supportive policies could impact transit ridership, our operating subsidy, and other measures that support the region’s growth.

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