Author Archive

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.

Picture 144

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…

2014 Metrobus Survey is Expected to Commence on March 18

March 12th, 2014 No comments

Bus Ballston Fall  110811-72

 The 2014 Metrobus Survey will commence on March 18, 2014. This survey will take place during Spring and Fall of 2014 covering every Metrobus route, in all jurisdictions.  If you receive a survey, please fill it out on paper or online. If you have any questions, please ask the surveyor, or feel free to call the toll free number on the survey.

The primary purpose of the survey is to gather data to support operating and planning activities and for calculating jurisdictional subsidy allocations.  The survey is also being conducted to meet Federal Transit Administration’s Title VI regulations.  Metro reports ridership coming from each of the eight jurisdictions in the Metro service area, and the survey provides the most scientific approach to estimate ridership by jurisdiction.

Additionally, we are asking about employer-related transit benefits received by our riders.   The 2014 survey differentiates between fully subsidized and partially subsidized riders, expanding our understanding of how our riders make decisions related to fares.

Our 2012 Metrorail Survey raised a lot of questions that we answered here on PlanItMetro.  We’ve pasted those questions and answers here, as they should be helpful during this year’s Metrobus Survey, as well as some 2014 Metrobus Survey-specific questions.

The last full survey of Metrobus ridership was conducted in 2008.

Feel free to ask any additional questions that we’ve missed in the comments section below and we will try to respond as best we can.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: The survey started on March 18, but I haven’t received a form yet.  When will you survey my bus route?

A: This survey uses statistical methods to capture a representative sample of our ridership.  On a given day, survey forms are being given out on selected bus routes.  To ensure that the survey remains statistically representative, we do not disclose the survey schedule to the public. Read more…

Singapore MRT Rail Map Diagrams Show the Way

January 27th, 2014 2 comments
Picture 040

Paya Lebar MRT Station Map (click & zoom for detail)

Picture 041

Travel Times Between Stations

While waiting for a Metro train one day in Singapore, I noticed their rail map diagram had a big white space and then the rest of the map. Upon closer inspection the ‘white’ part was actually a grayed out part of the rail map showing the route the train had already covered. Having that information is very useful, particularly for a traveler unfamiliar with the system. One knows if they are starting at this particular station (Paya Lebar), what their options might be if he/she actually wanted to go in the opposite direction. This information gives the rider a helpful reference point in relationship to the rest of the system.  Also upon closer inspection I saw that the map gave expected travel times between stations. How great is that?

Categories: Transit Travelogue Tags: ,

Courtesy Messages – Singaporean Style

January 13th, 2014 1 comment

I was recently in Singapore for vacation and while I was there I used their delightfully clean and efficient rail system (more on that later). While walking through the stations, I spotted several movie posters, which actually happened to be posters for YouTube-based public information message ‘movies’. The movies are put out by the Land Transport Authority, which is a part of the government that does the planning for their transit systems.

Picture 110

‘May I Have a Seat Please?’

Picture 109

‘Can You Move in Please?’

Can you move in please? leaves viewers with two messages: 1. move to the back of the bus so that everyone can get on, and 2. take off your backpack or move any bags you may have out of the way. Some of the movie is lost in translation I think culturally speaking but still, you get the point.

Excuse me, May I have a seat please? is about exactly what the title suggests. This movie especially rings true in this day and age as a lot of commuters have their noses buried in their books and cell phones (even more prevalent in Singapore – a lot of people walking in stations and outside while watching movies!!).

The courtesy issues that Singapore is tackling rings true here in DC too, as well as any city that has transit.

Metro Develops New Tool To Assess Transit Crowding

October 24th, 2013 2 comments

Our new “Line-Load Application” is expected to provide more accurate reports of system crowding by segment.

We recently finished testing a new version of the Line Load Application, a custom-developed application that distributes the load of passengers across the Metrorail system based on their points of entry and exit.  This application allows us to estimate the passenger loads on rail system per segment (rail between stations).  It is very important for Metro to be able to track the passengers per car across the rail system, both for peak hours on average weekdays and before and after special events. Because the new system is based on rail schedules, each passenger is assigned to an individual car for the assessment of passengers per car (PPC).

May1Load

Example of southbound Green Line passenger loads, May 1, 2013, 8am-9am

Our current method of assessing passenger crowding is by stationing rail passenger counting personnel at key stations during peak periods, approximately twice per month per station.  Because the inputs to the new application are faregate entry and exit data, this application is providing data like Metro has never seen before, including load factors and passengers per car for all stations at all times of the day.

Upon review,  the output data from this tool appears to match expectations of passenger loads at major checkpoints in the system during peak periods with no disruptions.  Output from this tool covering non-core checkpoints and non-peak periods will be validated soon.

In the next phase of improvements for this application, we will work to incorporate actual train arrival and departure times as an alternative to using schedules.  This will allow us to understand the actual conditions our customers experience during service disruptions or after special events.

The completion of the development of the Line Load application comes at a point in time when Metro is striving to increase safety and relieve the crowding on the rail system, both of which are major topics of our new strategic plan, Momentum.

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

Planning Staff Attend TPB Community Leadership Institute

October 17th, 2013 No comments
IMG_0568

Accommodating future household and employment growth exercise

This past spring Metro planners participated in the latest session of the Transportation Planning Board‘s (TPB) Community Leadership Institute (CLI). 

The CLI is an educational program put on by the TPB that brings together community leaders and educates them on the regional issues as well as how the transportation decision making process works for this region.  The program takes place over the course of three workshops.

The CLI is an excellent way to meet new people in the region who are interested in transportation issues, as well as a way to learn about the challenges that the region currently faces.  The latter was especially brought out in the two presentations on ‘What if the Washington Region Grew Differently? – Regional Challenges & Exploring Options’.  The group exercise for this portion of the Institute included having to work with other members of your assigned team to decide where household and employment growth was going to occur throughout the region, and where the transportation improvements should be located to accommodate this growth. That was easy enough. However, right after that, all the groups were told that they would have to pay for the transportation improvements they had asked for earlier and that’s when people realized how expensive transportation improvements are and how difficult it can be to work with people who have different transportation priorities. Read more…

CTA’s Decrowding Measures Having an Impact

August 12th, 2013 1 comment

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) proposed a decrowding plan last fall, and after one quarter, it appears to be working.

cta_bus_crowding

Source: CTA Crowding Reduction Plan: http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/miscellaneous_documents/Public_hearing_presentation_FINAL_090412s.pdf

They proposed the plan to reduce crowding and meet growing ridership needs (In September, they announced that “CTA ridership has risen 16 straight months, adding 22 million riders since June 2011.”)  The original plan essentially:

  • added service to 48 high ridership bus routes
  • added 17 rail trips to the Red, Blue, Green, Purple, Brown, and Orange lines during weekday rush hour
  • added rail trips to the Red, Brown, and Blue lines during weekend service
  • discontinued service on 12 low ridership bus routes (or duplicative)
  • discontinued service on 4 bus route segments (the entire bus route was not axed).

These service changes went into effect mid-December, 2012. The reasoning behind the addition of service and discontinuation of service was justified by the fact that the high ridership bus and rail routes represent more than 75% of the average daily ridership while the discontinued routes only represented less than 2% of its average daily ridership. Additionally, for the discontinued routes, there was another transit option nearby, such as a rail line, or another bus route. These cuts were also closely coordinated with the suburban bus company, Pace.

Read more…

Categories: In The News Tags: , , ,

Take a Tour of Vancouver via the SkyTrain – Then and Now

July 29th, 2013 1 comment

This video of the Vancouver SkyTrain (Expo Line), then (1986, in time for Expo 86) and now (2012), was making the transit news rounds.

We thought we’d share it, because it reminded us of Arlington, and the growth that’s occurred since the Orange Line opened there in the late 1970s. If the Orange Line was above ground, then someone could’ve made a similar video! In the meantime we’ll have to stick to pictures to compare how the landscape has changed since the introduction of the Orange Line. High rises sprouting up and general development with the addition of rail is the common theme here.

Enjoy the ride!

 

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

Bluetooth Data Collection Pilot/Study

June 6th, 2013 1 comment

Sample Bluetooth Sensor

Metro, in conjunction with Traffax, Inc.,  recently hosted a Bluetooth traffic monitoring test at Fort Totten station.  Bluetooth technology has been used for years now, for monitoring vehicular traffic. Specifically, it has been used to provide travel time and origin-destination data, mostly in vehicular settings.  Some pedestrian monitoring has been tested as well.

For Metro’s recent pilot, Bluetooth traffic monitoring was used to study pedestrian movements within a multi-level environment.  The hope was that the Bluetooth data captured could tell stories about pedestrian flow within the station (including vertical movement), the train dwell times, train volumes, and the transfer rate between the Yellow/Green and Red lines. The latter is an area that WMATA is most interested in, since it is difficult to predict how people will ride Metro when given options. In this case, do people prefer transferring between Red and Yellow/Green at Fort Totten or at Gallery Place?  This kind of data would make it easier for WMATA’s planning staff to better serve its customers by understanding true crowding levels on trains at peak load points.

It was estimated that 1 in 20 passengers’ movements would be captured in the pilot.  The Bluetooth data sensors were placed in backpacks that Traffax employees were wearing.   This initial data collection test will be used primarily to develop appropriate methods for analyzing such data, and to see what potential the data has for WMATA.

Please note that no personally identifiable information can be captured by detecting Bluetooth signals, which is the electronic equivalent of viewing license plates.  Read more about privacy and Bluetooth on the Traffax website.

Stay tuned for more info!

Categories: Planning Studies Tags: , ,

Chart of the Week: 5-Year Ridership Change By Station

November 5th, 2012 4 comments

Inset of graphic showing top ten stations by absolute ridership growth, 2008 to 2012. Station #8, Morgan Boulevard, is off the map.  Click the image above to download the full graphic in PDF.

While rail system ridership is up nearly 2% over 2008 levels, this growth in ridership is not spread evenly across the Metrorail service area.  This map illustrates the locations of the stations in the top-ten for absolute ridership growth, 2008 to 2012.

  • In general, the Green Line corridor in DC is responsible for much of the station ridership increases.
  • Much of the ridership growth illustrated on the map can be attributed to redevelopment around some of our more recently opened stations, such as Georgia Ave-Petworth, Columbia Heights, Morgan Boulevard (off of image above), and NoMa-Gallaudet.
  • Additionally, redevelopment near Foggy Bottom-GWU, Waterfront and Shaw-Howard U has contributed to increased ridership at those stations.
  • The increase at Pentagon could be due to increased express bus and commuter bus activity, with federal workers heading to new BRAC-related work sites along the I-95/395 corridor.

For a full version of this graphic, download the PDF:  Top Ten Stations for Ridership Growth, 2008 to 2012 (1 Mb)