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A Half-Mile Walk to the Nearest Metrorail Station, Mapped

August 4th, 2014 18 comments

Here’s a map showing the walkable area around the nearest Metrorail station.

eGISBaseLTR_RailPedSheds NonOverlap

Did you ever wonder which Metrorail station is closest? Where’s the breakeven point between two stations? This map shows the areas you can actually reach within a half-mile walk along the roadway network, as we described previously. The twist this time is that I disallowed “overlap” within the GIS network analysis, so land is allotted to the closest station only, calculated by network walk distance.

What do you see in this map?  Here’s a regional view with all stations, as well.

Eight-Car Trains on Metro is Equivalent to Widening I-66 in Arlington by Two Lanes

July 14th, 2014 8 comments

Adding two extra cars to a six-car Metrorail train might not seem like much, but it is equivalent to widening I-66 through Arlington by two lanes. Plus, it’d likely be cheaper and faster for commuters, too.

Sometimes it’s hard to wrap one’s head around how just many people Metrorail can move. But where Metrorail operates in heavily congested corridors, seemingly small improvements can yield big results. In fact, matching the capacity of all eight-car trains system-wide would require 16-18 lanes of freeway into downtown, each way.

Orange Line Metro train from I-66. (Photo by wfyurasko, click for original)

To match the capacity of eight-car trains on Metro, we’d have to widen I-66 in Arlington by at least two lanes. (Photo by wfyurasko, click for original)

In Arlington for instance, going to eight-car trains on the Orange Line as part of Metro 2025 is like widening I-66 by two lanes.  Let’s do the math:

  1. One lane of highway can move around 2,200 cars per hour, at its theoretical maximum.
  2. Today, every morning Metrorail runs about 18 trains per hour eastbound on the Orange Line through Arlington, and about a third are scheduled eight-car trains. That’s a train every three minutes, and equates to around 121 rail cars per hour, or 12,060 passengers per hour.
  3. By 2025 with eight-car trains, Metrorail will be able to run 21, eight-car trains per hour eastbound on the combined Orange and Silver Lines, which equates to 168 cars per hour.
  4. This means Metro 2025 will bring the line’s capacity to 16,800 riders per hour, or an increase of 4,740 passengers per hour.
  5. To accommodate 4,740 more people on I-66 at 2,200 cars per hour, 2 people per car, we’d need 4,740 / 2 / 2,200 = 1.1 highway lanes in each direction.

That means we’d need at least two new lanes on I-66 to match the capacity of Metro 2025. In addition, eight-car trains would be cheaper, and would likely move people faster through the corridor.

  • Eight-car trains on Metro would be over two times cheaper: the estimated cost to widen I-66 works out to about $3.50 per rush-hour trip over the life of the project, whereas Metro 2025 would be about $1.50.
  • Metrorail would likely move travelers faster than I-66 in the end.  Orange Line trains today normally run at around 35 miles per hour, while congested travel speeds on I-66 average around 18 miles per hour. While new highway lanes might move cars faster at first, the improvements would eventually be eroded by growing congestion.
Categories: Impact Tags: , , ,

Blue Line Riders Helped by Dedicated Signage

June 17th, 2014 7 comments

AlwaysShowBlueLinePIDSv2Some train arrival signs now always show the next Blue Line train, and it’s helping Blue Line riders determine their best route.

At rush times, Blue Line riders know they can sometimes see two or three Yellow or Orange Line trains go by before a Blue Line train arrives. For some riders, knowing just how far away the next Blue Line train is can help them decide: is it worth waiting, or should I get on the next train and transfer at L’Enfant Plaza?

To help Blue Line riders, Metro changed the arrival signs to always show the time until the next Blue Line train arrives, even if it’s more than three trains away.  That means that riders can always tell how far away a Blue Line train is, and decide whether to wait for it, or use the Yellow Line instead. Read more…

Fixing Core Stations in Metro 2025 Helps Riders from All Jurisdictions

June 12th, 2014 3 comments

Though many of the stations that Metro 2025 seeks to improve are in the District of Columbia, the capacity expansion would help riders from all jurisdictions.  

Metro needs to improve the capacity at over a dozen stations:  some of these stations are at capacity today, and our 100% eight-car train program will bring even more customers to already crowded stations.  We know we need to build new escalators, expand mezzanines, and build pedestrian passageways to meet this future demand.

The fact is that Metro 2025 is designed to benefit the Washington metropolitan area, residents of the District, Maryland and Virginia, as well as visitors from around the country and the world.

If you’re a commuter in Maryland or Virginia, it may look like the benefit of these improvements are focused on D.C. residents.   After all, 10 out of the 15 stations are located in the District of Columbia.  But the diagram below shows most of the riders who use these stations – those who create the need today, and who would benefit from fixing it – live in Maryland or Virginia.  In fact, 77% of the users of the Metro 2025 stations live in the suburbs.

 Three-quarters of riders benefiting from the station improvements in Metro 2025 live in Maryland and Virginia

Fixing core stations in Metro 2025 helps riders from all jurisdictions

Help us make the Metro 2025 projects in Momentum a reality! Learn more about Momentum, call on your elected representatives, and endorse the plan.

What’s a Transit “Walk Shed”?

June 10th, 2014 6 comments

Metro will soon be measuring how much growth happens in places that are walkable to transit. Here’s an in-depth look at how we define “walkable” to Metrorail stations and Metrobus stops.

Quarter-mile walk (by the network) for regional Metrobus stops and Metrorail stations

Areas reachable on foot from regional Metrobus stops and Metrorail stations

Metro’s new Connecting Communities metric will measure annual household growth in our region that occurs within the “transit shed” – the catchment area around transit service that generates walk ridership. And improving walkability can be an incredibly cost-effective way to reduce congestion and increase transit ridership.  Let’s take a closer look at how we defined what’s “walkable to transit.”

How Far is Walkable? First, we defined walking distance as a half-mile from Metrorail, and a quarter-mile from Metrobus, for a number of reasons:

  1. Of all the passengers who walk to Metrorail each morning, the median walking distance is just under a half-mile (0.35 miles, actually).  Riders walk farther to some stations than others, but the systemwide average is just shy of a half-mile.  Since rail riders are on average willing to walk a little under a half-mile today, it is reasonable to use a half-mile as an upper limit for walking in the future. (We don’t have similar survey data on Metrobus - yet.)
  2. The land use within a quarter- and half-mile is where we see the strongest effects on ridership on Metro today. More on this below.
  3. Academic literature supports the half-mile radius from rail transit as no better than any other distance, particularly for the link between households and ridership.
  4. Practically, setting the distance any farther than 0.50 and 0.25 miles increases overlap with other nearby stations and bus stops, which increases computational complexity. Read more…

What Metro 2025 Means to Virginia

March 20th, 2014 1 comment

Metro 2025 would bring significant benefits to northern Virginia, allowing the region to thrive economically while preserving regional vitality.

Think Metro’s Momentum plan is all about “downtown?” Think again! Our seven Metro 2025 initiatives – from eight-car trains to bus-only lanes will bring dramatic improvements to the quality of life and transportation to northern Virginia.

 

Benefits Icons_Expansion

Supports Virginia Transit Projects

Virginia is planning big for transit, which is great – but all of the planned projects rely on a robust Metrorail and Metrobus “backbone” to succeed:

  • The Silver Line extends Metrorail by over 20 miles, and will generate tens of thousands of new riders per day when Phase II opens – many of whom will travel into Metrorail’s already congested core.
  • The Columbia Pike Streetcar will transfer 32,000 riders per day to and from Metrorail at Pentagon City – at a point in the system that is already maxxed out.
  • Two other planned busways (Crystal City/Potomac Yard, and Van Dorn/Beauregard) also connect with Metrorail stations.
All major transit projects funded in the CLRP in Northern Virginia depend on the "backbone" of Metrorail and Metrobus.

All major transit projects funded in the CLRP in Northern Virginia depend on the “backbone” of Metrorail and Metrobus.

By ensuring that Metro services can keep pace with congestion and demand, Metro 2025 is critical to making Virginia’s transit projects a success, and critical to helping the region and the state reach its transportation goals. Read more…

Metro 2025: Why Now?

March 11th, 2014 1 comment

Four reasons why we need to begin the Metro 2025 investments now.

1. Because Metro 2025 is critical for growth. For the last three decades, the Washington region has grown in lockstep with an expanding transit system.  Since Metrorail opened in the late 1970s, the system has grown steadily, and in 2014 Metro provides two to three times more service (rail and bus vehicle-miles) than it once did.

For decades, this region has grown in lockstep with Metro.

Today, no significant new Metro service is planned beyond the Silver Line, yet MWCOG estimates that the region will continue to grow at a steady clip for years to come.  The only transit expansion projects that are planned complement and depend on connections to Metro, such as the Corridor Cities Transitway or Columbia Pike Streetcar, and may even increase the strain on Metrorail’s core.

2. Because we could lose jobs.  Without investment in the region’s transit backbone, economic growth and prosperity is threatened. In fact, studies have shown a clear link between growing congestion and declines in job growth. Without Metro 2025, this region could stand to lose nearly 133,000 jobs by 2040.

3. Because Metrorail is crowded, and it will get worse without Metro 2025. Today, Metrorail is reaching its capacity in many places. On the Blue and Orange lines for instance, Metro is running trains every 2.5 minutes, which is the most the infrastructure can handle, but even so, many trains are too full to board, or experience uncomfortable levels of crowding. Lines form at many stations to get through escalators, elevators, and fare gates.

Without eight-car trains and fixing station bottlenecks, crowding and congestion on Metrorail will continue. The map below shows our projections of crowding (passengers per car) into the future, if we don’t undertake Metro 2025:

Crowding on Metrorail will worsen without the investments in Metro2025.

Crowding on Metrorail will worsen without the investments in Metro 2025. (Animated.)

 

4. Because Metrobus is stuck in traffic and needs relief. Metro’s buses are frequently caught in street traffic, which increases travel times, degrades reliability, and increases Metro’s operating costs just to maintain frequencies.

Bus-Speeds

Illustration of Metrobus speeds from 2009. The red is 5 MPH or less. Click for full version.

In fact, numerous Metrobus corridors operate at speeds of less than 10 MPH, and several showed speeds of under 5 MPH.  On many corridors, buses operate at a brisk walking pace even though they are carrying many more passengers than the traffic around them.  On H and I Streets NW, buses carry 40% of the passengers but are only 2% of the vehicles. On 16th Street NW, buses carry 50% of the passengers, despite using just 3% of the vehicles.

To increase bus service, speeds, and reliability, we need to invest in bus-only lanes, bus priority at traffic signals, and additional buses.

 

What Are the “Metro 2025″ Projects in Momentum?

March 6th, 2014 1 comment

Metro’s Momentum plan calls for seven medium-term capital initiatives – known collectively as Metro 2025.  And last week, Metro applauded a funding agreement from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia for $75 million as a “down payment”  to begin work on Metro 2025.  This is welcome news, indeed, and allows Metro to prepare to begin work on much-needed capacity increases to support the region’s growth.

Those of you who are less familiar with Momentum may be wondering: “What exactly are these projects?”

In a nutshell, the Metro 2025 initiatives are:

M25 Icons_All 8s

Eight-Car Trains

Today, most Metrorail trains have only six cars, and that means crowding  - which is only projected to worsen.  This project would enable Metro to run all eight-car trains in the peak period, which are the longest possible in our stations, and add 35% additional capacity to the rail network. It would expand the rail fleet and yards, and improve the power and signal infrastructure to handle the load.

M25 Icons_PCN-01

Core Station Improvements

If we lengthen the trains, we need to expand key stations as well! Since-eight car trains add capacity for 35,000 more trips per hour, 80% of rail customers transfer or alight in the core, and most of these core stations are already over capacity, we need more core station capacity. This project would enlarge platforms, and add escalators, elevators, stairs, and pedestrian passageways to 15 stations.

M25 Icons_Bus Fleet

Bus Priority Corridors and Fleet Expansion

The Priority Corridor Network would construct bus-only lanes, give buses priority at traffic lights, and bring service similar to MetroExtra to 24 lines throughout the region. The PCN will take tens of thousands of cars off the road, add 100,000 riders, moving buses 50% faster, and cut fuel costs.

In addition, this project would expand Metro’s bus fleet by around 400 buses, allowing us to increase frequencies.

M25 Icons_New Blue Line Options

New Blue Line Connections

Metro faces a bottleneck at Rosslyn station, where three lines (Orange, Silver, Blue) converge. This major project would try to fix this bottleneck, and restore six-minute Blue Line frequencies between Pentagon and Rosslyn stations. We are analyzing the feasibility of a few options, including a second Rosslyn Station that would enable underground transfers between the two stations.

M25 Icons_NexGen Communications

Next Generation Communications

This program would expand our current communications infrastructure to provide an integrated one-stop communication hub for the regions’ transit customers. Improvements would include: radio system upgrades, real-time bus information at bus stops, and new public address system at stations.

M25 Icons_Pocket Tracks

Pocket Tracks and Crossovers

This project would add special trackwork at key locations in the rail network to give us more flexibility with Metro’s two-track system. These new tracks would allow us to turn trains around, add system flexibility to Metro’s two-track system, and store trains at important locations.

Categories: Metro 2025 Tags: , ,

Yesterday’s Metrorail Ridership: Recovering from a Snowstorm

March 5th, 2014 3 comments

Yesterday, as everyone recovered from a snowstorm, here’s what happened to Metrorail ridership.

After Monday’s snowstorm, yesterday the federal government in the Washington region issued a two-hour delayed opening, and many schools opened with a delay or remained closed. Metrobus began the morning operating on a snow emergency plan, but by afternoon had restored full service.  Here’s what that meant to Metrorail ridership:

Metrorail ridership on Tuesday, when the federal government and many schools opened with a 2-hour delay.

Metrorail ridership on Tuesday, when the federal government and many schools opened with a 2-hour delay.

Note: the prior Thursday (Feb. 27, 2014) stands in as a typical weekday above, for comparison.

It looks as if the apex of the AM peak period occurred 15 minutes later than usual.  Many riders appeared to delay travel in the morning, resulting in a much more gradual end to the morning peak.

How was your commute different on March 4?

This data is available for download (.xlsx, 13kb).

Categories: Impact Tags: , , , ,

Transfers: Part of Every Rail Transit System

February 6th, 2014 5 comments

About a third of Metrorail customers transfer between lines to complete their trip, and this is not too far off many of our peer transit agencies.

Everyone would prefer a “one-seat ride” (aka “transfer-free ride”) from origin to destination, but for many, transfers are a necessary part of commuting life. In fact, transfers may be even beneficial. Transfers are a part of nearly every large rail transit system with multiple lines, including Metro.  As the chart below shows, 35% of Metrorail passengers change trains at some point during their journey, and that’s slightly higher – but not wildly different from – many of our peer transit systems in the U.S.

(same scale for all images) City Customers Transferring *
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New York City Subway

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WMATA Metrorail

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Boston MBTA, Subway

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Philadelphia, SEPTA

(excl. Regional Rail)

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Chicago Transit Authority, Rail

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* Estimated rail-to-rail transfers per boarding. Data from NTD and agencies. Maps from Fake Is The New Real.

Read more…