The Transportation Planning Board (TPB) estimates that without funding commitments from Congress, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia for Metro’s ongoing maintenance and core capacity improvements, as many as 32,000 future daily transit riders would be pushed onto the roadways instead.
In a recent report, the TPB cites that under the current funding trajectory, Metrorail riders will face significant crowding and experience less service reliability in the future. Critics often cite low forecasts of future Metrorail ridership from the TPB as a reason to avoid committing robust levels of funding for transit. What they don’t tell you is that the ridership numbers emerging from the travel demand model are manually “capped” so that there is no ridership growth beyond 2020 – the year beyond which current levels of maintenance funding levels expires. In other words, because regional leaders have not committed to funding transit, those that forecast travel demand have decided to stop forecasting increases in transit usage. Were it not for this artificial “cap”, travel demand forecasts would show much higher numbers of future transit use. We all know that such a “cap” ignores the last 10-15 years of increasing transit usage region-wide (performance analysis of the CLRP )
Metro’s strategic plan, known as Momentum, proposes a number of core capacity improvements to handle more riders, and offers a plan of initiatives necessary to remove the so-called “transit constraint” placed on the system in 2000. Metro 2025, one of the main components of Momentum, includes:
The Los Angeles area is aggressively leveraging billions in local tax dollars to transform the region into a more vibrant place with a variety of transportation options.
Measure R Spending Breakdown
The conventional wisdom today is that the days of big expensive transportation investments are over. Los Angeles apparently didn’t get the memo. The main transportation planning and development agency in the LA area, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), is currently leading the development of the nation’s largest regional transportation expansion program. The program of projects, Measure R, was overwhelmingly approved by more than two-thirds of LA county voters in 2008, and raised the local sales tax one-half cent. The half-cent sales tax is expected to raise $40 billion over 30 years (including an estimated $590 million in 2012) to provide the lion’s share of funding for Measure R transportation projects around the region, helping Angelenos avoid some of the area’s legendary traffic congestion. Not satisfied with the already impressive pace of expansion, LA Metro’s Board of Directors is now exploring a second ballot measure that could come as early as 2016.
Measure R includes an impressive array of transit projects, including the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit extension, Expo and Regional Connector light rail lines, and the Westside Subway, among others. Below is a map of the transit projects fully or partially funded by Measure R (click on the map below for the interactive version):
Measure R Transit Map (source: LA Metro)
In anticipation of the Silver Line, nearly twenty development projects, with an estimated value of more than $18 billion, are underway near the Metrorail stations, helping attract riders and generating valuable benefits for Fairfax County.
Ahead of the Silver Line, many development projects are underway around the new stations. Image from Cushman and Wakefield, click link at left for full report.
In a new report, the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield documented twenty real estate development projects “in the pipeline” near the five new Silver Line stations. Some are under construction now, others are in the approvals process, and a few are on hold, but together they total:
- Over 20 million sq. ft. of new office space, which would increase the total office space in the Tysons area by 40%.
- Over 2 million sq. ft. of new retail space. That’s more than twice the size of the Tysons Galleria mall.
- 17,800 new residential units, or more than double the current population of the Tysons area.
- 9,300 hotel rooms
Metro estimates that these projects are valued at more than $18 billion, and will generate millions per year in tax revenue for Fairfax County (estimated using industry-standard construction costs). Some of this tax revenue will be captured by special tax districts in the Tysons and Silver Line areas. In 2011, we estimated that Fairfax County received around $30 million in tax revenues from properties within a half-mile of its five existing non-Silver stations.
The development brings great benefits to Fairfax County and will encourage riders to use the Silver Line, but there remains a strong need to improve the walking and biking environment near the new stations. Pedestrian and bicycle access will be key to meeting our ridership goals for the new Metrorail line, but walking and bicycling conditions remain challenging in the area.
Metro is investing in a series of bus stop improvements across the region that will improve the rider experience and fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Construction of the improvements for the stop on Branch Avenue and Silver Hill Road
Metro is investing in bus stop improvements to make bus riding easier for everyone, but especially for persons with disabilities. Improvements have been completed along two routes; the J4 route (College Park- Bethesda MetroExtra) and the P12 (Eastover-Addison Road Station). Addtional work was also done in the City of Greenbelt. These stops were selected as a part of the regional TIGER grant bus priority initiative designed to improve bus speeds and customer facilities along high demand corridors throughout the region.
To meet ADA requirements, bus stops must have four attributes:
• The pedestrian (landing) pad must have a firm, stable surface that is at least 5’ by 8’ (located at front door stopping location).
• The pedestrian pad must connect to the curb.
• The sidewalk must connect to the pad.
• The sidewalk must have a pair of curb ramps (leading to the bus stop).
At some locations, Metro was able to provide additional improvements, such as shelters, and in-street concrete pads, which are better able to withstand the heat and weight of a bus than regular asphalt. The specific improvements are described
We want to hear from you! Interested in the FY2015 budget? Answer our survey or participate in an upcoming public meeting. Want to talk more long-term strategy? Connect on MindMixer.
We are seeking feedback from riders and offering multiple ways to comment on the proposed FY2015 budget and fare changes, as well as Metro’s Capital Improvement Program. You can participate in any or all of the following:
- Survey: The survey includes questions about the fare changes, costs, and the benefits you will see going forward. The survey is open until 5 p.m. on February 11, 2014.
- Public Hearings: The six public hearings will provide an opportunity for riders to give formal testimony on the docket of proposed budget actions.
Looking to get into the weeds and talk about some long(er)-term opportunities? We have started a new discussion on MindMixer to gather your ideas and thoughts about priorities and potential future changes to the balance of funding between riders and local government, continuing to allow fares to be paid in cash on Metrobus, parking, new fare options, and priorities for a down payment on Metro2025 initiatives.
New buildings right near Metrorail stations are 23-30% more valuable than buildings farther away, showing that our funding partners can generate significant property tax revenues from Metro.
A recent study shows that Metrorail stations in Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor are powerful anchors for economic development and value. The report, by the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, showcases the substantial value the region can realize with good transit-oriented development policies near stations. Among the report’s findings:
Offices in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor right near Metro command higher rents. Source: Cushman & Wakefield via washingtonpost.com. Click for original context.
- Being able to walk to Metro is worth a lot. New office buildings within 500 feet of a station in Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor are earning a 30% premium over buildings under construction just a quarter-mile away. For apartment buildings, the premium is 23%. No wonder walk access to Metrorail is on the rise, especially from those close by the station!
- 92% of over 20 million square feet of office space under construction in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor is within a quarter mile of a Metrorail station.
- Conversely, new office buildings built farther than a quarter-mile from Metro are worth 18% less in rent.
These “rail premiums” of 23-30% are significantly higher than the 7-9% we found in our “Business Case for Transit” study, because of several significant differences in methodology. We looked at the assessed value, not the market/rental rate of property. Also, we looked at all properties in the region, rather than just those under construction in one corridor.
Although the presence of Metrorail creates this value premium near stations, Metro does not receive any of these revenues directly, even though continued rebuilding and improvements are needed to address state of good repair and relieve capacity issues in the corridor.
Nevertheless, this report certainly confirms that Metrorail increases property tax revenues, and shows just how big that value can be in certain markets.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) highlights that, even with a proposed fare increase, Metro is still a cheaper than driving for many trips in the region.
AAA’s analysis compares the costs of driving and parking between Maryland and Virginia to Metro-accessible locations in and near downtown Washington. Below is a selection of these trips:
Comparing The Commuting Costs – Driving vs. Riding Metro (Source: AAA Mid-Atlantic)
Obviously, these are just examples and there are other trips where transit isn’t an option or driving may be more cost effective than Metro. Parking costs, levels of congestion, transit accessibility, travel times and other variables are quite different depending on where a trip begins and ends. Still, taking the train or bus is often much cheaper than driving, especially utilizing SmartBenefits or transit passes, which further reduce the cost of choosing Metro
New Station Lighting at Judiciary Square. Click image for larger version.
Pilot upgrades using energy-efficient lighting at three stations have been a success, so Metro is planning to ramp up the effort to 41 more stations by 2015.
Metro recently completed retrofitting the mezzanine-level lights at Judiciary Square, Gallery Place, Bethesda, Smithsonian and Metro Center. Through careful fixture selection, the new fixtures provide a higher quality of light with an improved Color Rendering Index (CRI) thereby improving both lighting levels and overall visibility. Significantly, the new lighting design offers better light levels without compromising the integrity of the original lighting design and station aesthetic. The retrofits also provide significant lifecycle cost savings for Metro through reduced energy consumption and maintenance requirements.
Following these successes, Metro General Manager/CEO Richard Sarles today that it plans to upgrade mezzanine lighting at the 41 remaining underground Metrorail stations by 2015. In addition to the five already completed stations, one station, L’Enfant Plaza is currently under construction. Read more…
The Silver Line will relieve traffic congestion on the Dulles Toll Road and I-66 when it opens in 2014.
This post is a continuation of our series that answers questions about the new Silver Line.
It’s no secret that the Washington region has some of the worst traffic in the country. Listeners to “drive time” radio are bombarded with rapid-fire traffic reports noting congestion on major regional highways, often caused by “nothing but volume”. This expression means there is no traffic accident, weather incident or excessive sunshine slowing cars down. Instead, too many cars are trying to squeeze into too few lanes at critical interchanges, resulting in traffic queues that can extend for miles and miles.
Not surprisingly, the highways along the Silver Line corridor are some of the region’s most congested. The merging of I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road was ranked fourth worst congested location (PDF) in the MWCOG Spring 2011 Traffic Survey. The survey showed the toll road has three major congestion spots in the AM Peak: the toll plaza, the interchange with the Capital Beltway and the merger with I-66. In all three cases, the recurring congestion was caused by vehicles weaving and merging.
Surveyed morning traffic conditions on the Dulles Toll Road, from the MWCOG 2011 Traffic Survey. Image links to PDF report.
According to the MWCOG report, the speed in the traffic queue is between 20 and 50 MPH. This would result in between 2 and 12 minutes of delay per vehicle joining the back of the queue heading to the toll plaza. Assuming a duration of 2 hours for the queue, average vehicle occupancy of 1.1 and 1,900 vehicles per lane per mile, this results in between 560 and 3,300 person-hours of delay per day, up to 840,000 person hours per year. Read more…
As we continue to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to Metrorail, Metro has recently completed several improvements on the east side of Glenmont station.
Walking and bicycling are key access strategies for Metrorail, as Metro seeks to grow ridership in sustainable and cost-effective ways. As our studies have shown, accommodating new riders at our current access modal shares would be quite costly to the region. At Glenmont station, around 12% of riders in the morning arrive on foot or by bike, but there may be growth potential. Nearly 80 customers per day live within 1 mile of the station but currently park. Over 550 customers, or a third of all parking customers, live within 3 miles of the station but currently park.
To make Glenmont station more attractive and safe for pedestrians and bicycles, Metro’s Parking Office has constructed new paved pathways connecting the station to the intersection of Layhill Road and Glenallan Avenue, replacing a dirt path. Metro has completed this work as part of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Capital Improvement Program.