Posts Tagged ‘planning’

Board Approves 2015 Bus SOGO

November 20th, 2015 No comments

State of Good Operations (SOGO) changes coming to a Metrobus route near you.

Metrobus planning presented the annual 2015 Bus State of Good Operations recommendations (PDF) to the Board on November 19. The package was approved and customers will see some changes starting in December. The remainder of the changes will roll out with Metrobus’ March and June schedule changes. 

Staff provided SOGO proposal information at outreach events and pop ups, including at the Pentagon Transit Center

Staff provided SOGO proposal information at outreach events and pop ups, including at the Pentagon Transit Center, photo by WMATA

The annual SOGO process seeks board approval for changes to Metrobus service. Every year,  planners put together a comprehensive list of Metrobus routes they want to improve in the coming year. Any major service change must be approved by the board. A major Metrobus service change is defined as

  • Change in span of service on a line of more than one hour in a single fiscal year,
  • Change in revenue miles on a line of more than 20% in a single fiscal year,
  • Change in route miles on a line of 15% in a single fiscal year, or
  • Projected change of 10% of the riders on a line in a single fiscal year.

This year, planners were tasked with improving service, reliability, travel time, and crowding while keeping the proposals budget and cost neutral.  The recommendations must not have a disparate impact on minority populations or a disproportionate burden on low income populations. Read more…

Beyond Borders – Acting Regionally to Create a Financially-Sustainable Transit System (Part One)

November 9th, 2015 No comments

What if taxpayers could avoid spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on Metro’s operating subsidy? Better yet – what if Metro could pay for itself and have enough left over to fund local transportation projects? What if better using the transit system we already have could help us achieve this?  This isn’t just wishful thinking – it is possible.

Logo_WMATA_CWG_001 black-01(This is the first post in a series of posts that assess applying land use as a transportation strategy)

Recently some of the Washington region’s prominent leaders issued a call to action for this region to cease competing against itself if it is to secure its economic future.  Their courageous statement coincided with findings from WMATA’s Office of Planning that actually put a price tag on that promise.  And it’s a doozy.  In case you missed it, at the Coalition for Smarter Growth‘s Smart Growth Social recently, Shyam Kannan, Metro’s Managing Director of Planning, gave a presentation on the impact of regional cooperation on the region’s finances and specifically, what this could mean for Metro and its ridership, operating subsidy, funding partners, and taxpayers.

What he presented is the second half of ConnectGreaterWashington (CGW).  As a reminder, the first part of CGW was a long range plan that identified infrastructure expansion needs across all transit operators in the region. It assumed that we would grow as the local jurisdictions have estimated in the cooperative forecast. This second part asks a different question.  It challenges us to make do with the transportation system we have already built. Can the region’s growth, rather than necessitate billions of dollars in new infrastructure, be distributed differently to better utilize the roadway and transit systems we already have? What would that mean to the region, its finances, and to Metro’s operating subsidies that its funding partners pay annually?

So the study contemplates, compares, and contrasts two distinct paths.  Grow the way we have been growing and build our way out of congestion.  Or choose to grow around our existing infrastructure and use it to its maximum capacity.  In the coming weeks, we will be posting the detailed analysis here on PlanItMetro. It’s lengthy and wonky, so be prepared for a series of in-depth posts. Read more…

In Case You Missed It – Presentation from Last Week’s Smart Growth Social

October 22nd, 2015 No comments

We’ve published online the WMATA presentation from last week’s Smart Growth Social.

Last week the Coalition for Smarter Growth held their annual Smart Growth Social. Over 200 people were in attendance that evening and WMATA was honored to have the opportunity to share with the audience a preview of some ground-breaking research the Office of Planning has been conducting into the impact of Smart Growth practices on the region’s finances. On behalf of everyone who works towards a more sustainable and prosperous region, thank you for listening.


We’ve gotten a ton of requests for copies of the presentation, which we have made available online. If you want to get more information on how smarter land use planning can and should be this region’s top transportation strategy, feel free to use the presentation or email us ( to stay informed as we release more information on ConnectGreaterWashington later this year.

Metrobus is Collecting Your Input for Annual Bus Service Adjustments

September 15th, 2015 3 comments

Time is running out to provide your input on proposed Metrobus changes.

Every year, Metrobus planners propose service changes to maintain a Bus State of Good Operations (SOGO). This year’s official public participation period went live on Saturday, August 15 and will close at 5:00pm on Wednesday, September 23.  That’s less than two weeks away!

Halfway through the public comment period, we thought we would give you sense of the process so far.

  • More than 3,000 online surveys have been completed.  Two-thirds of these returns are from direct email outreach to customers using affected routes. If you are interested in receiving invitations to similar online surveys in the future, please register your SmarTrip card.

    Bus SOGO outreach 2015

    Bus SOGO outreach 2015

  • With more than 20 outreach events completed or scheduled, we are collecting feedback by going straight to the customer.  Metro staff is out riding buses and showing up at bus stops and rail stations.  We understand not everyone can go online so we are coming to them.  Look for us and help us improve your bus experience.
  • These outreach activities have resulted in more than 2,000 written comments from customers all over the region.
  • At the time of this writing, the elimination of the 5A is not being well received nor is the elimination of the segment between McPherson Square and Kennedy Center on the Route 80.  Many in the District are giving favorable marks to the free transfer between Capitol Heights/Addison Road Metrorail stations for select routes.  Maryland customers are also excited for the Q Line free transfer to and from the Metrorail Red Line between Wheaton and Silver Spring.
  • In addition to English-language replies, we have received completed surveys from Spanish, Vietnamese, and Amharic speakers.  Customers from all economic and ethnic groups are chiming in as well.

We want to hear more from our customers to see how these changes would affect your travel choices. Let us know how major service changes would impact you. Join the conversation by reading the official docket and submitting your thoughts online or in person.

-Email your comments to
-Talk to Metro staff at a pop-up event
Take an online survey
-Attend the public hearing on Thursday, September 17 at WMATA HQ (600 5th St NW, Washington, DC 20001).

Since Time is Money, Metro Wants a Business Partner to Help Metrobus Go More and Stop Less

September 11th, 2015 3 comments

Metro is exploring opportunities to partner with a private company or investor to pilot off-board SmarTrip® loading to help improve customer travel times and lower our operating costs.

Metrobus speeds have steadily decreased over time as the region grew and traffic worsened. This not only negatively impacts Metro customers, but also increases our operating costs. As traffic congestion erodes bus speeds, we need to deploy more vehicles and operators on the busiest routes in order to maintain service frequencies. We know that behind the statistics stand legions of bus riders who want faster service, as well as counties and cities that want lower bills for that service.

Crowded boarding and long dwell times

Crowded boarding and long dwell times

Off-Board Fare Payment and Transit Prioritization

There is no silver bullet to speed up transit. Instead, agencies can use a combination of technology and on-street treatments to increase bus speeds and move more passengers. One of the few prioritization strategies Metro can undertake on its own is allowing off-board fare loading, moving all SmarTrip® value loading from the farebox to kiosks near bus stops. This would reduce the amount of time it takes for passengers to board buses and pay fares, in turn speeding up bus trips.  We have looked into this in the past and have recently revisited this important concept. Read more…

How Smarter Urban Planning Can Help the Chesapeake Bay

July 20th, 2015 No comments

Better urban planning can help save our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay—by reducing this region’s future impervious surfaces by 20%. Here’s why.

As many Washingtonians know, the Chesapeake Bay needs help. Dead zones and algae blooms appear every summer which destroy aquatic life in the Bay and threaten  fishing, swimming, and economic health.  A major contributor to this problem is rainwater runoff from paved roads, parking lots, and roofs.  These are called “impermeable surfaces”.  In contrast, permeable (or pervious) surface is one through which liquids are able to pass.

Grassy fields, woodlands and farmlands are excellent examples of this: rainwater or snowmelt soaks into the ground, pollutants in the water are filtered naturally, and excess water travels underground to streams and eventually (in the Washington region) the Chesapeake Bay.Rainfall that falls on impervious surfaces like paved roads, parking lots and roofs “runs off” unfiltered making its way to the Chesapeake Bay—along with nitrogen and sulfur oxides from vehicle emissions, motor oil, and road salt residue.  


Figure 1 – Map of impermeability throughout the region with overlaid jurisdictional boundaries and Metrorail system for reference. Note the concentrations of highly-impermeable surfaces in central DC and at Dulles.

Figure 1 – Map of impermeability throughout the region with overlaid jurisdictional boundaries and Metrorail system for reference. Note the concentrations of highly-impermeable surfaces in central D.C., and at other activity centers like Dulles.

Read more…

Transit Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond: There’s More to It Than Metrorail

July 6th, 2015 1 comment

In part one of this series, Metro Planners led a session at StreetsCamp  Saturday June 20, 2015 to talk with transit advocates about other possibilities beyond Metrorail to increase transit use, reach, and access.

I want Metro to...

Politicians and citizens always ask for more Metrorail, but why should transit continue to chase land use decisions? Metro Planners Allison Davis and Kristin Haldeman talked to transit advocates and urbanists at StreetsCamp last Saturday to provide approaches that can help the transit we have today reach more people and be more cost-effective without requiring more Metrorail (pdf). The major take-aways for advocates and urbanists were to advocate for:

(1)    Local decision makers to monetize full life‐cycle cost of land use options;

(2)    Access projects that create comfortable (i.e. desirable) paths for pedestrians and bicyclists; and

(3)    Local jurisdictions to add transit signal priority, queue jumps, and bus lanes

Why these three specifically? Read more…

Metrobus U and V Lines Changes in Effect June 21

June 15th, 2015 No comments

The U and V Lines have been overhauled as part of Metrobus’ June 21 service changes. Here’s what you need to know about the new and eliminated U and V routes.

In April 2014, Metrobus Planning staff directed a study of the U and V lines. The routes (U2, U4, U5, U6, U8, V7, V8, and V9), operate primarily in the District of Columbia, connecting the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail station with nearby neighborhoods. The study assessed the lines in detail, identified traffic issues and crowding concerns, and recommended service changes. As a result of the 2014 study, we have restructured the U and V lines to make them clearer and more reliable.


The following changes are effective Sunday, June 21, 2015:

  • the elimination of Routes U2, V7, and V8,
  • the shortening of Route U8,
  • the restructuring of Route V9 as the new Route V1, and
  • the addition of new routes U7, V1, V2, and V4.

Take a look at our detailed U and V Line brochure and the new timetables (U7U8V1, and V2,4) and let us know what you think of the new service.

There are no changes to the other U and V routes (U4, U5, U6, and V5).

This post is Part 2 of 4 in a series spotlighting major changes from Metrobus’ June 2015 Service Change. 

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Quarterly Metrobus Service Change Takes Effect June 21

June 12th, 2015 No comments
New NH1 map 6-21-15

Metro’s bus planners always aim to provide you with a Better Bus, and on June 21, timetables are changing for over 40 bus routes. Here’s what you need to know, starting with a closer look at the NH1,  NH3 line.

This post is Part 1 of 4 in a series spotlighting major changes from Metrobus’ June 2015 Service Change. Stay tuned for details on the revised E Line, U and V Lines, and 22 and 25 Lines.

Metrobus planners are constantly reviewing bus service and routes and bringing changes four times a year. Regular assessments including daily weekday passenger boardings and passengers per revenue trip, along with data from customer participation and feedback from our Metrobus operators, point out routes that need attention. Sometimes the resulting changes are small, such as adjusting trip times to more evenly space trips and better accommodate passenger loads or adjusting to traffic patterns. Other changes have a bigger impact, perhaps influenced by passenger demand, construction detours, budget constraints, or political pressures. No matter the reason, Metro Bus Planning is always working for a Better Bus.

Here’s what’s happening with the June 2015 service changes (detailed future timetables are available too): Read more…

Planning Tool Update Sheds Light on Rail Car Crowding Distribution

May 18th, 2015 19 comments

Latest version of Line Load tool will feature modeled car-crowding numbers.

Many factors influence which car number of a Metrorail train a customer rides.  Infrequent riders may wait for the train near the escalator and board the nearest rail car. Savvier customers may prefer to ensure they are the first to exit at their destination station or have an shorter walk at a transfer station.  Others may board cars based on understanding where seats are more likely to be available.  All of this activity can result in uneven loading of Metrorail cars across a given train, with some rail cars crowded and others near empty.

As we mentioned in 2013, the Office of Planning has an in-house tool that allows planners to estimate how crowded trains are based on origin-destination ridership data. Currently we are in the midst of a few updates, which will include the Silver Line that opened last year.  Another of the new features that we are excited about is a rail car crowding analysis for the system’s most critical segments.  Based on over six months of rail car-crowding data that was collected at selected stations by rail passenger “checkers,” the train-based ridership data will be distributed across the cars so we can estimate what kind of crowding we have by car number, at the peak load points. The following graph illustrates the observed car crowding variations at Gallery Place.


Customers may experience crowded conditions even when the average rail passenger per car (PPC) numbers (PDF) would indicate otherwise. This new feature is an important addition that will help Metro planners better understand the customer experience.  The car crowding analysis will begin to identify which cars of a train tend to be crowded in the peak hours, and which are less crowded.  This information will the be used as a starting point for devising strategies for better spreading customers across all cars of a train.

How do you choose which rail car you ride in?  Other than berthing trains at the center of the platform (see this informative article over at Greater Greater Washington on that topic), what strategies might Metro consider to better balance customers across rail cars?