Regional Transit Opportunities Explored

February 11th, 2016 No comments

You name it, we’ve tested it – and here’s what we found out.

Metro is completely focused on safety, reliability, and financial stability.  It’s also our job to ensure that the regional transit system improves regional mobility and connects communities.  So we’ve had many posts on ConnectGreaterWashington over the last few years describing the importance of a regional approach to transit planning. Posts include FAQs, how different modes compare, the paramount importance of transit-supportive land use, an approach to assessing Metrorail, BRT, and LRT expansion projects, and the overall proposed plan for Metrorail and surface transit to name a few.

List of Transit Corridors, Projects, and Plans Analyzed as Part of CGW

List of Transit Corridors, Projects, and Plans Analyzed as Part of CGW

Finally, we have completed a set of one- to two-page summaries for all the strategies, plans and projects we tested in our evaluation of future needs and opportunities. Due to the size, we’ve divided the summaries into two parts. First, are all of the Metrorail strategies, plans, and projects (pdf). Second, are all of the other modes’ strategies, plans, and projects (pdf). Both documents include bookmarks to help you find the various summaries by topic area.

Each strategy, project, or plan includes:

  • A summary of the strategy;
  • The goals that were addressed;
  • The regional activity centers connected;
  • A map that shows the project or plan;
  • Key findings for each such as ridership (including new transit riders vs riders gained from other existing modes), transfers, crowding, connectivity, and surrounding density; and
  • Recommendations for this strategy.

As we and the region continue to grapple with today’s safety, operations and maintenance needs, while also planning for future growth, we will continue to refer to the CGW work undertaken to date. Let us know how you can imagine this body of work being used in the future.

Safety First!

February 10th, 2016 No comments

It’s a new year! Let’s vow to stay safe when around Metrorail and Metrobuses!

Denver RTD recently partnered with Metro Trains of Melbourne (Australia) to remind its riders to be safe.  They used the characters and theme song  (“Dumb Ways to Die”) developed by Metro Trains to appeal and get their message across to their younger riders, who often fail to pay attention to safety messages otherwise.  The original video/song, when first released, became the world’s most shared video for awhile in November 2012! Also, Melbourne saw a 20% decrease in accidents after the song became a hit around the country. Along with the video and song, posters were created, as were books, which all asked for people to pledge to be safe around trains.  Check out the Denver safety video:

Relating back to Metro, Metro would like to remind everyone that safety is its number one priority. Please review Metro’s safety tips.

Here are some key tips when it comes to direct accidents with trains and buses. If someone is standing too close to the curb or the edge of the platform in an unsafe manner, please inform a Metro uniformed employee or police officer immediately. Metro police can be reached at 202-962-2121 or by texting ‘MyMTPD’.  Metro’s suicide hotline is posted on the signs: 1-855-320-LIFE (5433).   If you drop something in onto the tracks, never retrieve it yourself. Ask for help. Check out New York City Transit’s message relating to falling into the path of a train.

 

Also, in light of recent winter weather, be careful when walking to and from the bus stop and rail station. Do not run in the stations. The floors can be very slippery, and remember that there is always another train. There is no need to push people out of the way, and run after a train, or bus, for that matter. Always face forward on escalators, and hold onto the handrails. Watch out for loose clothing or footwear that could get caught in the moving parts of the escalator.

Last but not least, if someone is sick or not feeling well, it’s best for them to get off the train or bus and seek help. Help can come sooner when they are at a rail station or bus stop.

Would Metro riders like to see WMATA develop more safety video messages? What type? What are the unsafe behaviors you see the most? We would like to hear your input.

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

Fostering and Sustaining an Inclusive Dialogue – In Everything We Do

February 9th, 2016 No comments

Metro’s award-winning Public Participation Plan (PPP) helps us be strategic in our efforts to engage minority, low income and limited English proficient (LEP) populations in transit planning and programming activities. Here’s how we work to produce successful results.

One of the very first things we do when a project begins is to develop a Project Communications and Outreach Plan – or PCOP for short. Our dedicated External Relations (EREL) team meets with the Metro “project sponsor” and other stakeholders to understand the parameters of the project, identify the type of outreach needed, and put a schedule of activities in place. In the past year since we adopted our PPP, it has become clear that no one PCOP is the same as another and no one strategy meets the needs of every project. Read more…

Categories: Engage Tags: ,

Squaring Circles: De-Mystifying Metro’s Budget and Funding Sources (Part Two of Three)

February 5th, 2016 1 comment

As Metro kicks off its public engagement effort for next year’s capital and operating budgets, now is the perfect time to get involved in helping shape the Authority’s priorities for the next few years!

amplify3

This is the second of three related posts that attempt to de-mystify transit funding and give the residents of Metro’s service area some tools to engage in budget discussions. The first post focused on the Capital Funding Agreement (CFA, PDF) and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP, PDF), which together establish a six-year framework for funding projects that improve the Metro System’s safety, reliability, and performance. This post focuses on how the CIP translates into an annual capital budget, and the next post will explore the annual operating budget.

Read more…

When in Hamburg, Germany…

February 3rd, 2016 1 comment

If you ever find yourself in Hamburg, Germany, then you must visit the Miniatur Wunderland.

This is the world’s largest miniature train exhibit, and it is definitely a ‘must-see’ for train lovers. As of September 2015, it had over 13 kilometer of tracks.  Additionally, multiple countries and regions are represented in the settings, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia, and the US. This entire model setting took over 500,000 hours to create.  There are 900 trains and 1,200 train cars, with the longest train being 14.51 meters long.

If you don’t have the time, or money, to make a visit, you can check out the video below to see how complex the Wunderland is.

Below are some up close shots from 2005. This exhibit is continually changing and growing, so no two visit are alike. What is impressive about this exhibit is the fact that not only are trains in constant motion, there are also wireless controlled vehicles moving about. The exhibit also squeezes in some humor with hidden quirks for those who are observant.

What are some of your favorite train/bus related museums?

 

How Do Marylanders Use Metro?

February 2nd, 2016 2 comments

We analyzed Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroAccess ridership for all Maryland residents in response to the Maryland Legislature’s data and analysis request. Newsflash – we have customers from across the state!

Origins of Maryland Rail Riders

Origins of Maryland Rail Riders

In the 2015 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed the WMATA Utilization Study (HB300),which required the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and WMATA to analyze the utilization of Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroAccess every five years. This year’s analysis is based on the most recent Metrorail passenger survey (2012), Metrobus passenger survey (2014), and actual ridership for MetroAccess for an average day in April 2015. Below are some findings that I found most interesting. But more importantly, here is the complete 2015 Maryland HB300 WMATA Utilization Study (native pdf), which includes all the links to the underlying survey data, interactive charts, and analysis.

  • 82 percent of Metrorail trips by Montgomery County residents are destined for Washington DC in the morning on a typical weekday;
  • 71 percent of Metrobus trips in the AM peak period made by Prince George’s County residents are for work purposes on a typical weekday;
  • 3.3 percent of all trips across all Metro services on a typical weekday are taken by Maryland residents from Frederick, Charles, Calvert, Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties and Baltimore City;
  • 35 percent of other Maryland residents on Metrorail access via commuter rail (MARC) and Amtrak; and
  • 17,600 residents of the District and Virginia reverse-commute into Maryland on Metrorail and bus each morning on a typical weekday (about 5 percent of total system ridership)

Any other nuggets that you found from analyzing the data? Ideas for other ways to graphically represent the findings?

Metro Celebrates Permanent Restoration of Transit Benefit

February 1st, 2016 No comments

After years of analysis, advocacy and lobbying, Congress has restored the transit commuter benefit to match the parking benefit, helping Metro, the region and the nation.

The employer transportation benefit for transit and vanpools has fluctuated a lot in recent years. In February of 2009, it was increased from $120 to $230, matching the parking benefit.  Almost three years later, in January of 2012 it was slashed to $125 only to be raised to $245 the following year.  After only a year, it was slashed again, this time to $130 where it stayed for two full years.  In January of this year, it was raised to $255 to permanently match the parking benefit.  Metro Board of Directors member Tom Bulgeran outspoken advocate for the transit benefit —  played a vital role in ensuring its restoration to match the parking benefit.  Thanks, Tom!

History of Employer Transportation Benefits, Monthly Limits. Data from Wikipedia.

History of Employer Transportation Benefits, Monthly Limits. Data from Wikipedia.

The benefit amount wasn’t the only thing that has been changing.  In 2010, the Metro implemented a series of new IRS rules for how the transit benefit could be used.  For example, on smart media the transit benefit dollars had to be stored in a separate “purse” that could only be use for transit fares and not for parking costs at park-and-ride facilities.  Employers also began asking employees to specify exactly how much transit fare was needed each month, instead of setting one amount and accruing benefits for trips untaken.  Perhaps most importantly, a new rule stated that those unused dollars in this transit-only purse were to be “clawed back” at the end of each month. Read more…

Metro’s Men and Women in Blue are Going Green

January 14th, 2016 No comments

The new MTPD Station is certified green.

Harry Davis, Jr. Metro Transit Police District II Police Station

Harry Davis, Jr. Metro Transit Police District II Police Station

The Harry Davis, Jr. Metro Transit Police District II Police Station and Range Training Facility at Franconia-Springfield have both been officially awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

From inception the project targeted the environmental requirements for LEED certification. However, when construction began in 2013 the process to deliver the necessary credits and provide documented evidence of performance to USGBC began in earnest. Read more…

Categories: In The News Tags: ,

How Can the Transportation Planning Board Support Metro?

January 13th, 2016 No comments
How Can TPB Support Metro: TPB Plans and Processes

Metro and the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) engaged in a wide ranging discussion with TPB board members about how the TPB and the region’s jurisdictions can support Metro now and in the future. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot more to it than just predictable funding.

At the December 16th Transportation Planning Board (TPB) meeting (audio), Metro Board Member Harriet Tregoning gave the final presentation (pdf) and facilitated a discussion on Metro’s challenges and provided specific recommendations and/or opportunities for the TPB and local jurisdictions to increase their support the Authority today, tomorrow, and into the future. The focus of the discussion was specifically on plans, processes, and actions that the TPB and local jurisdictions can modify or begin that will ensure predictable funding and/or enhanced funding options, incorporate land use as a transportation strategy, increase transit-supportive land use decisions, prioritize bike and pedestrian access, and advance bus priority on the streets that local jurisdictions operate.

Last summer, TPB members requested a more extensive conversation surrounding Metro’s challenges as well as recommendations on how TPB, through its plans and processes, and local jurisdictions, through their decisions and funding, could support Metro. Metro opted to provide three presentations and the December presentation built on information provided at the November 18th meeting (audio) on Metro Fundamentals (pdf) and Momentum (pdf) that were given  by Tom Webster, Managing Director of Metro’s Office of Management and Budget, and Shyam Kannan, Managing Director of Metro’s Office of Planning. The November presentations served to ensure a baseline understanding across TPB Board members, highlight our capital and operating challenges, and identify safety, state of good repair, and longer term needs to ensure safe, reliable transit that meets the growing region. Read more…

Right Underneath our Feet – How Planning, Zoning, and Development Influence Metrorail Ridership

January 12th, 2016 4 comments

Metrorail ridership is heavily-determined by station-area land use patterns, so attention to land use as a transportation strategy will be important to sustaining Metrorail’s long-term ridership growth.

There has been a tremendous amount of attention recently paid to Metrorail’s ridership trends.  While history tells us that the current ridership snapshot – which shows that ridership has essentially flatlined – is quite normal given the cyclic nature of ridership growth, Metro’s Office of Planning has been exploring why certain station areas and rail segments have seen ridership gains during the downturn, while other station areas and segments have seen losses.

Passenger Miles Traveled by Trip Origin at Each Metrorail Station, AM Pea, Full-Fare Riders with no Transit Benefits. One of the inputs from this study.

Passenger Miles Traveled by Trip Origin at Each Metrorail Station, AM Pea, Full-Fare Riders with no Transit Benefits. One of the inputs from this study.

The questions we sought answers to included, for instance:

  • Why is it that while system-wide ridership declined last year, we saw ridership gains at stations with lots of transit-oriented development, such as NoMA, Columbia Heights, and Navy Yard-Ballpark?
  • How much of an impact does transit-oriented development have on overall ridership, and can that impact be measured, both in terms of new ridership as well as in terms of net new farebox revenue?
  • With so many ways to get around – including walking and biking and Uber and Lyft – and gas prices at near historic lows, how does a Metorail trip compare to other ways of getting around in terms of overall competitiveness?
  • Does the location of a transit oriented development project matter in terms of how much ridership it generates?  Does that vary by the type of project (i.e. office, retail, residential, etc)

Read more…