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…
Christian T. Kent, the Assistant General Manager for Access Services, offers his thoughts on accessibility and Metro’s future.
Mr. Kent provides oversight for the accessibility of Metrobus and Metrorail and is directly responsible for the operation of MetroAccess paratransit service. Metro operates the largest fully accessible transit system and the fifth largest paratransit system in North America.
Accessibility is very important at Metro. Because Metro is accessible, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities in our region can depend on Metro to get where they are going. Our low-floor talking buses and rail stations with elevators mean that someone who is blind or uses a wheelchair can use Metrobus or Metrorail. Metro can be the family car for someone who can’t drive. And for those who can’t use bus or rail, there is our paratransit service, MetroAccess. Our 675 lift-equipped MetroAccess vans deliver over 2 million rides every year to 40,000 customers. So Metro really is very important to people with disabilities, and Metro will be even more important to them in the future. Why is that?
America is getting older. More and more people are turning 65 each year, and seniors have a much higher rate of disability and drive less often than younger people. The average MetroAccess rider is 62 years old. In the District, the average age is 67. This “age wave” means more Metro customers with disabilities in the coming years. We need to make sure that the accessibility features in our bus and rail service work consistently well so that customers with disabilities choose and use bus and rail. Providing the most accessible bus and rail service means less reliance on MetroAccess. This is important to Metro because a trip on paratransit is much more expensive than one on bus or rail, and it is important to customers who want to take advantage of the most independent means of travel available. Read more…
Brookland-CUA station enabled over 24,000 trips for visitors attending the papal events at the Basilica on Wednesday, September 23, 2015.
Brookland-CUA Metro station in Washington The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the Catholic University of America campus is in the background. Photo Credit: AgnosticPreachersKid at English Wikipedia
Metrorail can handle crowds for most events downtown where the demand can be shared across a variety of stations and lines. The papal mass at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, however, required a little extra planning. The Secret Service was in charge of the regional planning of the event, and as the event approached Metro staff became aware the event would have a ticketed attendance of 25,000 people and that an additional 15,000 people might amass outside the venue to watch the ceremony on the jumbo-trons and try to catch a glimpse of the Pope on his way in and out of the area. Preparing to enable safe and efficient trips for up to 40,000 customers at a station with one of the smallest capacities in the system required some extra effort. Read more…
On a recent trip to Toronto, Metro planner discovers a new rail link.
I flew up to Toronto in July of this year for a fun weekend trip, flying into Pearson Airport. I’ve traveled up there a few times in the past year and try to take transit between the airport and downtown when schedules allow. Each time, I check transit schedules via Google Maps to determine whether or not transit from the airport makes sense to me. This most recent time, I discovered something odd: a new transit connection from the airport I hadn’t seen before, simply labeled “UP“. Curious, I googled it and discovered that a new rail transit link had just opened between Pearson Airport and downtown Toronto’s Union Station, with two stops in between. Being a transit nerd, I had to check it out.
The new UP train operates between Toronto’s Union Station and Pearson Airport.
Metro is coordinating with other regional agencies to release a single data file that will contain schedule data for all transit operators in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.
Over 10 years ago, Metro began coordinating with local bus operators and commuter rail agencies to incorporate all of their transit schedules into wmata.com Trip Planner. It took some time and effort, but eventually Metro reached agreements with all the operators in the region and began to consolidate transit schedules in one online, searchable data source. In fact, Metro’s Trip Planner is the most comprehensive online data source for regional transit trip planning. So much so, that when the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) needs to update their four-step travel demand model they request all of the region’s transit schedules from Metro and we deliver them as a General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) file.
Sites and app developers can load one data file for all the region’s transit instead of downloading separate files for each agency.
Only some agencies in the region publish their own GTFS files, and releasing this file will make several agencies’ schedule data available online for the first time.
Over the past two years, Metro staff have worked to negotiate the release of this GTFS file. We were pleased reach out to the other regional operators in July requesting sign-off on a regional data-sharing agreement that would permit Metro to release the other agencies’ data online in this GTFS format. We are excitedly awaiting executed agreements from the operators, and we’ve received one back already, thanks RideOn! Once we have received a few more replies, we will begin to publish a regional file including the data of all agencies that have executed the agreement.
In the meantime, feel free to contact your local bus, commuter bus or commuter rail operator and ask that they expedite the signing of this regional transit schedule data sharing agreement.
Screenshot of Metrorail rider income by station visualization. Click image for full interactive version.
The biggest overall difference between our work and that of the MIT group is higher household incomes at end-of-line stations on the eastern side of the region. These stations, while located in lower income areas, have large parking facilities that draw commuters from all over the region and beyond. Read more…
Since the Post article was written, we have begun to plan for near-term capacity constraints that might result from increased ridership caused by new households and jobs near Metro. And part of this planning is gaining insight as to where and when new housing units and office space may come online through real estate industry data sources. Through this research, we are able to update the statistic above:
86% of new office construction in the Washington region is occurring within one-quarter mile of a Metrorail station.
New office currently under construction in the Washington region. All but four projects are within a half-mile of Metrorail. Data from Jones, Lang, LaSalle.
A large majority of trips on Metrorail cross jurisdictional boundaries, illustrating that Metro is indeed a regional service.
We’ve mentioned before how the station improvements in Metro 2025 will benefit riders from all jurisdictions. In fact, Dupont Circle is the only station identified in Metro 2025 with a majority of users living in DC. We thought we’d take another look at ridership that crosses jurisdictional boundaries. The table below illustrates the percent of trips, by jurisdiction of origin, that cross into another jurisdiction on Metrorail, sliced by Weekday AM Peak, Weekday PM Peak and Weekend. Data is from October 2014 and includes the new Silver Line stations.
This new data download from October 2014 includes ridership from the five new Silver Line stations.
Over the past few years we’ve been making ridership data available for download and analysis by the online community. We have received some requests for full origin-destination (O/D) data sets that include the new Silver Line ridership.
These data sets include ridership from October of 2014, and are available by period (AM Peak, midday, etc.) or by quarter-hour interval, for all stations including the five new Silver Line stations. Both sets include daily averages for weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Columbus Day.