Metro Responds to Bike Parking Demand at McLean Station

September 29th, 2014 1 comment

Demand for bicycle parking at the new McLean Station exceeded capacity in the Silver Line’s first few weeks, so Metro has already added more racks.

When Metro planners learned that bike racks were not prominent in the Silver Line station designs (completed by our partners in Virginia), Metro fought hard to make sure that bike racks were planned for and installed at the stations.  And that’s good news, indeed, because by August, nearly all of the bike racks were full at McLean station.  Recognizing this need, Metro added space for 20 more bicycles (10 racks) at the station.  The new racks bring the total capacity for bikes to 72 on racks. Bike lockers are still available at McLean, too.

Increasing bike access to the Silver Line is a good sign for ridership, revenue, and station access. Metro will keep an eye on utilization this fall and add capacity where needed.

Bike Parking at McLean station on the Silver Line last Thursday.

Nearly full bike racks at McLean station on the Silver Line a few weeks ago, before Metro added more racks.

Off-Peak Ridership at Tysons Corner is Strong

September 24th, 2014 6 comments

Even though Tysons Corner station on the Silver Line is only two months old, off-peak ridership is particularly strong. Saturdays are busier than weekdays, and the station stays busy past 10:00pm. 

Tysons Corner station is already serving a solid reverse commute market, but ridership is also strong during midday hours, and reaches its peak during the afternoon rush and evening hours.

Tysons Entries - first 2 weeks

Tysons Exits - first 2 weeks

Ridership is fairly well balanced throughout the day, relative to other Metrorail stations.  There’s a clear reverse commute market exiting the station during morning rush and re-entering in the evening. In the evening, however, nearly just as many people are exiting the station as are entering the stations, suggesting the commuters are mixing with other riders bound for the malls or other activities. Read more…

Funding Metro – A Critical First Step

September 22nd, 2014 1 comment

Local leaders are set to commit to Metro’s long term state of good repair needs for the first time through the region’s transportation plan, but the plan omits key investments that are critical to solving some of the region’s most critical needs.

This fall the region’s transportation leaders will approve an update the Constrained Long Range Plan (CLRP) financial plan, required by federal law every four years, to ensure the region’s ability to pay for transportation expenditures with reasonably anticipated revenues. During the 2014 update, Metro collaborated with staff from the Transportation Planning Board (TPB), the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the three state DOTs to identify funding for the system’s long-term operations and maintenance (O&M) and capital needs.  The draft plan, which expresses the region’s major transportation priorities, is scheduled to be adopted by the TPB on October 15th.

Metro's future capital needs to repair and maintain the existing fleet

Projection of Metro’s future fleet State of Good Repair (SGR) capital needs

Read more…

Metrorail Riders Go Car-Free… Every Day!

September 19th, 2014 No comments

Many pledge to leave their car at home for a day on Car-Free Day September 22,but 20% of Metrorail riders don’t own a car and go car-free every single day!

Of course, Metrorail riders from zero-car households vary significantly across the stations – from over half of all riders at places like Columbia Heights, Benning Road, and Dupont Circle – to less than 10% at more suburban areas like Rockville, East Falls Church, or Franconia-Springfield.  The diagram below shows the share of riders who live in a zero-car household, by station:

RailMap-Diagram_CarFreeHHsPCT_forweb

Of course, ridership varies across stations too, so the next diagram shows the total number of rail riders from zero-car households:

RailMap-Diagram_CarFreeHHs_forweb

In addition to riders who are completely car-free, many others come from “car-light” households of one or no cars.  58% of Metrorail riders come from “car-light” households.  For many, access to Metrorail and Metrobus and other transit services is a big reason they can drop down to one or zero cars and still get around.  In fact, DC’s zero-car households number is climbing, with 88% of new DC households car-free.  For others, car ownership is a heavy financial burden they may not be able to afford. Stay tuned for a coming post which estimates riders who are car-free by choice, vs. by necessity.

Do you live in a car-free household?  How does Metro help meet your mobility needs?

The data shown here is derived from our 2012 Metrorail Passenger Survey and the raw data is available (.xlsx, 19k).

Astoria’s Old Riverfront Trolley

September 16th, 2014 2 comments

Old freight railroad tracks in Astoria, Oregon become a major tourist attraction, with the installation of an old historical trolley train.

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Astoria’s riverfront view of Washington

Astoria, Oregon was once slated to be the largest port on the west coast of the United States. Well situated at the mouth of the Columbia River, there was booming trade — fur trade early on, and later fishing, fish canning, and timber — with its deep water port and connection to the Pacific Ocean. In fact, Astoria had the first US Post Office west of the Rocky Mountains. For about 100 years, from the late 1800s, Astoria was an economic center with its port, but by the mid 1970s, the economy had tanked with the decline of canneries and timber. Read more…

Discovering the Other Silver Line

September 1st, 2014 5 comments

MBTA’s Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is impressive and efficient, but could be easier to use for visitors.

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Boston’s Silver Line BRT at one of its Logan Airport stops. Photo by the author.

I recently flew to Boston for the first time in years and had the opportunity to ride their Silver Line BRT  that provides service between Boston Logan Airport and south Boston.  The service features some dedicated right-of-way, real-time arrival signage and a few actual stations.

The Silver Line has real-time arrival screens at Boston Logan, easing the wait time for customers excited to explore a city or return home.  The buses used are dual-power, meaning they run on electricity via overhead wires at some times and on diesel when there are no wires.  The switching between the two takes a few minutes but it really wasn’t very noticeable.

I was very impressed with the stations.  For example, the World Trade Center station is a significant and impressive structure, and felt more like a traditional rail station that a bus stop by far.  It features a multi-story tower topped with the “T” logo.  The station interior features side platforms, escalators and stairs, real-time arrival screens and public art.  A station like this makes a statement that high quality transit service will be operating here for a long time, despite not having rails in the ground. Read more…

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Data Download: May 2013-2014 Metrorail Ridership by Origin and Destination

August 28th, 2014 21 comments

DataDownloadFuzzyMay 2013 and 2014 Metrorail ridership data is available: what patterns do you see?

Following up on our last data download of rail ridership from May 2012, 2013 and 2014 are now available. These data now represent three “snapshots” in time of rail ridership, at a very fine level of detail.  This data can help answer questions, such as: where is ridership growth the strongest? Which destinations are becoming more or less popular?  How has off-peak vs. peak ridership changed? 

May 2013 Metrorail Ridership by Origin, Destination, TimePeriod, DayOfWeek (.xlsx, 3.3 MB)

May 2014 Metrorail Ridership by Origin, Destination, TimePeriod, DayOfWeek (.xlsx, 3.4 MB)

We invite you to tell us what you see, in the comments.

Technical notes on the data are the same as the last post.  This time, Saturdays and Sundays are shown in the same worksheet as weekdays.

Where are the Late Night Metrobus Riders?

August 27th, 2014 1 comment

The majority of late night bus boardings are in DC, focused along the 14th/16th Streets NW corridor.

As we’ve mentioned before, Metro is conducting a study examining late night bus service in the region.  An initial step was to assess where the late night boardings are happening in order to determine which might be the best locations to focus in-person survey efforts.  Below is a map showing the locations of the top 100 locations where riders board Metrobus from 11pm-4am each night.  Rather than reflecting the total ridership of a stop, the magnitude of the circles on the map reflect that location’s share of overall late night bus ridership.

Top 100 Late Night Metrobus Boarding Locations

Top 100 Late Night Metrobus Boarding Locations*

Some notes on the map:

  • Almost all of the major bus boarding locations (those with more than 1% of the total) are at Metrorail Stations, even though Metrorail stops operating just one hour into the late night period on weeknights.
  • Not surprisingly, most of the boardings are in DC, many of which are concentrated in the 16th/14th St NW corridor from downtown to Columbia Heights.
  • The data only reflect Metrobus boardings, so if boardings on local operators such as DC Circulator are added, the total numbers of late night bus boardings would be higher than what is shown here.
  • Of course this only tells us where the riders are boarding, not necessarily where they’re going; we are investigating that as part of the study.

What do you see that stands out?

* Note that Southern Avenue Metro Station replaced 14th & U Street as an in-person rider survey location.

Bordeaux: City of Wine and… (No) Wires?

August 25th, 2014 2 comments

Known to most Americans for its famous wine varieties, Bordeaux is also an innovator in surface transit technologies that allow for wireless tram operations on its downtown streets.

Two wireless trams serve paired center city station platforms

Two wireless trams serve paired center city station platforms

On a visit to Bordeaux in 2010, I drank its fabulous wines, walked along the Garonne, enjoyed its comfortable summer climate… and took note of its innovative trams (light rail/streetcar).  You might be thinking “trams… really?”  Yes!  While most systems are powered by overhead wires, when it opened in 2003 Bordeaux’s system was the only modern example of ground level powered wireless trams in the world.  The proprietary APS system allows for typical overhead wire operation in the areas outside the central city and operation with ground-level power (see photo below) inside it in order to preserve unobstructed views in the old city.  Although the system initially had reliability problems, it now seems to be performing well.

Read more…

Water Savings on Tap at Metro as part of Sustainability Lab

August 21st, 2014 No comments

New sustainable water treatment systems used to cool underground Metrorail Stations are projected to save Metro millions of gallons of water and hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

This month, Metro completed one of its first Sustainability Lab pilot projects – the installation of state-of-the-art water treatment systems at seven (7) chiller plants on the Metrorail system. The project will result in an estimated 400,000 gallons of water savings per location annually.

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Metro’s Station Cooling and Water Tower System

Read more…