‘In The News’

Planning Tool Update Sheds Light on Rail Car Crowding Distribution

May 18th, 2015 17 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.

carcrowding

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?

 

 

Metro Pitstops on Bike to Work Day – Friday!

May 14th, 2015 No comments

Bike to Work Day is tomorrow, Friday, May 15. Roll by, say hello, and pick up free goodies at a Metro-hosted pitstop.

BTWD5-15-15

Click to register for Bike to Work Day!

Register now for free at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org and enter your pitstop as East Falls Church, Fort Totten, or College Park-U of Md. Metro will be distributing t-shirts, maps, free goodies, and information on using bikes with Metro. In addition, Metro Transit Police will also be at East Falls Church, Fort Totten, College Park-U of Md., King St-Old Town, and Braddock Road Metrorail stations from 7:00 – 9:00 am  to distribute FREE U-Locks when you trade in a less secure lock (e.g. chain or cable lock) and register your bike with MTPD!

If biking from home to work isn’t an option for you, make Bike to Metro part of your commute. You can park your bike at any Metrorail station or a bus stop, and complete your journey using Metro. You can also take your bike with you on Metrobus at any time, as our entire bus fleet is equipped with bike racks that can carry 2 bikes on each bus. Or bring your bike on a Metrorail train at anytime except 7-10 am and 4-7 pm.

The three Metro-hosted pitstops at Bike to Work Day 2015 are:

See you out there!

The K9 MetroExtra Bus Route Surpassing Expectations

April 30th, 2015 3 comments

Two years and 500,000 riders later, the K9 continues to demonstrates the benefits of MetroExtra limited-stop bus service.

At the end of this month, the K9 bus route will pass an important milestone – it will carry its half-millionth rider.  Since its inaugural run, the K9 has continually surpassed all of our expectations.

The concept for the K9 emerged from a year long study on bus service needs in the New Hampshire corridor and on New Year’s Eve 2012, Metro launched the K9 service – the first limited-stop bus service introduced in Maryland in many years. The K9 provided faster and more reliable service along New Hampshire Avenue between Fort Totten Metrorail station and the Northwest Park apartments in Montgomery County. Riders responded enthusiastically, pushing the K9 over its 6-month target of 650 daily riders in less than four months.  In March 2014, we extended the route north to the Federal Research Center in White Oak to coincide with the transfer of several thousand FDA employees to that facility and increased the service frequency to every 15 minutes.  Ridership surged again, passing 1,000 daily riders for first time only a week later. Two months later daily ridership was up another 20% to 1,200 daily riders.

K9 Ridership by day

Ridership on the K9 has grown an astonishing 50% year-over year for the past two years in a row, and this growth has not come at the expense of ridership on the underlying K6 local bus service (the K6 grew 2% between 2013 and 2014 and has been virtually flat for 2015).  Instead, the K9 has tapped into pent-up demand for transit service within the corridor by providing desperately needed capacity.  Read more…

Please Give Us Feedback on Next Year’s Budget

April 2nd, 2015 8 comments

We’re not raising fares or cutting service in next year’s budget, but we are still proposing some changes – and we’d love to hear from you.

Take SurveyTo balance Metro’s budget for the coming year, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia governments have pledged to increase their funding for Metro, while Metro continues to take actions to cut costs and operate more efficiently. We are still considering the following options that may impact you:

  • Increase the daily parking fee at Minnesota Ave. station to the same price as all other Metro parking facilities in the District ($4.60).
  • Extend the hours we collect parking fees at Metrorail stations by one hour in both the morning and evening on weekdays.
  • Eliminate the TransitLink Card (TLC) pass – one of the few remaining paper farecard products in the Metrorail system.

We need to hear from you – tell us how these proposals would affect you:

  • TAKE AN ONLINE SURVEYComplete the survey to provide your feedback before 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 13.
  • ATTEND THE PUBLIC HEARING on Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. (Information session at 6:00 p.m.).  Register to speak by emailing speak@wmata.com.

Metro Headquarters (Jackson Graham Building) 600 5th St NW, Washington DC 20001

Take Metrorail: Gallery Place or Judiciary Sq

Take Metrobus: 70, 74, 79, 80, D6,  P6,  X2, X9

The public hearing location is wheelchair accessible. For accommodations for people with disabilities, call (202) 962-2511. For language assistance, such as an interpreter or information in another language, please call 202-962-2582 at least 48 hours prior to the public hearing date.

 Public comments will be considered by the WMATA Board of Directors when adopting the final Fiscal Year 2016 budget plan.

Cherry Blossoms 2015: The Secret to Beating the Crowds

March 30th, 2015 4 comments

Metro’s planners provide tips on avoiding crowds this Cherry Blossom season.

After this long and trying Washington winter, locals and visitors alike are marking their calendars for the 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival. While everyone knows that Metro is the best way to reach the blossoms, PlanItMetro has been digging into the data to help you minimize the crowd crush and maximize your enjoyment of this treasured DC celebration.

What happens to Metro ridership? As we showed last year, the Cherry Blossoms always bring a major bump to Metrorail ridership, especially on weekends and at Smithsonian station. Metro is ready for the increased demand: track work is cancelled, service levels are increased, and our customer ambassadors are out in the field to help with the needs of visitors. So how do savvy Washingtonians avoid the thickest crowds?

Tip #1: Avoid Smithsonian station

On weekends during Cherry Blossoms, the number of customers exiting Metro at Smithsonian dwarfs every other station during daylight hours

Read more…

Metrobus X2 Continues to Gain Riders

March 23rd, 2015 6 comments

Ridership on the X2 Metrobus line has jumped 14% after Metro changed the way the line is managed.

X2 Ridership growth

The X2 bus on the busy H Street/Benning Road corridor has always been one of Metro’s busiest routes at over 13,000 riders per day.  (If the X2 were a Metrorail station, it’d rank just above Silver Spring and just below Rosslyn!) 

Through most of 2014, the X2′s on-time performance (OTP) averaged about 65% – well below Metro’s goal.  Insufficient running time in the schedule, and disruptions from planned and unplanned detours along the route created uneven spacing between buses leading to “bus bunching” and long gaps between buses.   These service gaps often led to significant overcrowding, particularly during the midday period.

So to improve reliability, we made some changes in December 2014:

  • To meet demand, we increased the frequency of buses to an even 8 minutes all day long –  6:00am-7:00pm on weekdays.
  • We deployed a team of dedicated supervisors on the street (at Minnesota Avenue and Lafayette Square) and at the Bus Operations Control Center to ensure even spacing between buses on weekdays. The X2 is now a “headway-managed” route on weekdays, meaning our primary goal is to maintain buses evenly every 8 minutes throughout the day.
  • We adjusted the  scheduled running times by about 15% for all trips.

The results have been impressive: ridership has jumped 14% from 12,700/day in October 2014 to 13,800 in February, overcrowding (particularly during the midday) has been virtually eliminated, and on-time performance has grown to 83% - a remarkable achievement for a heavily congested urban corridor.

The Impact of a Snow Day on Ridership

February 19th, 2015 8 comments

Tuesday’s snow day cut ridership by 70-80% on rail and bus, as the region dug out from a snowstorm.

Snow and federal government closures can have a big impact on ridership here on Metro, and Tuesday February 17 was no exception. Ridership on Metrobus and Metrorail was down significantly as snow kept many buses off the roads and as many commuters stayed home. Service was reduced: Metrorail operated on a Saturday schedule, and Metrobus only began resuming operations around late morning. The numbers are preliminary, particularly on Metrobus, where not all fareboxes have reported in yet. Nevertheless, here’s what ridership by hour looked like compared to the previous Tuesday for context:

Snow Day 2.17.2015 ridership v2

Tysons-Area Stations Show Unique Ridership Patterns

January 19th, 2015 No comments

The four new Metrorail stations in the Tysons Corner-area of Fairfax County illustrate diversity of land uses.

Tysons Corner, the archetype of an Edge City, is a mix of office towers, apartment buildings and single-use retail in a suburban, auto-oriented setting.  As such, one would expect to see ridership at the new Tysons-area stations reflect the diverse land uses.   Ridership data (station entries) from October, 2014, illustrate this perfectly.

 

Read more…

Rail Ridership Down As SmartBenefits Run Out

January 12th, 2015 3 comments

Many Metrorail riders now run out of SmartBenefits mid-month, and they may stop riding.

Since the federal transit benefit maximum dropped from $240 to $130 per month, about 25%  of regular Metrorail commuters are running out of SmartBenefits to pay their fare before the month is over. By month’s end, trips paid for with SmartBenefits are now crashing by 40% over last year.  Though a variety of factors explain recent decreases in Metrorail ridership, the transit benefit is a strong explanation as to why the losses are concentrated in the second half of the month. In fact, the biggest influence on ridership over the past year may be the cut in the federal transit benefit, and ridership might even be up by about 2% otherwise.

If we look at trips per day over the span of the month, and only at trips over 7 miles paid for with SmartBenefits, we see the drop closely coinciding with when riders run out of SmartBenefits.   (Shorter trips can be fully funded by the current benefit amount of $130 per month.)

SmartBenefits_over_weekdays_in_a_month_v2

Read more…

Ridership at Tysons Corner Station Doubled on Black Friday

January 5th, 2015 No comments

The day was the Tysons Corner Station’s busiest since the Silver Line opened.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. As would be expected, ridership at Metro’s new Tysons Corner station skyrocketed on Black Friday this year. The station facilitated 10,800 riders entering or exiting over the course of the day, double its normal weekday volume of around 5,500.  The chart below shows ridership at Tysons Corner by half-hour for all Fridays since Labor Day.

The day was the first sign of success for Metro’s partnership with Tysons Corner Center and the Tysons Partnership, to encourage shoppers to take Metro to Tysons.

What patterns do you see in this data? Check out the other analysis, visualizations, and the data here.