‘In The News’

Abilities-Ride Program: An Alternative to MetroAccess

October 11th, 2016 No comments

In this guest post, Mr. Christiaan Blake, Director, WMATA Office of ADA Policy and Planning describes a new cost-cutting partnership called Abilities-Ride.


Mr. Christiaan Blake, Director, WMATA Office of ADA Policy and Planning

On September 30, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for its new Abilities-Ride program. Abilities-Ride is designed to provide MetroAccesseligible customers with access to a general trip purpose alternative in the Prince George’s and Montgomery County sections of the MetroAccess service area. Depending on the results of the program, Abilities-Ride could be expanded to cover the entirety of the MetroAccess service area. Abilities-Ride will not be a Metro service, but instead a public-private partnership between Metro and one or more vendors that provide existing or soon-to-be established generally available on-demand service. Metro will subsidize up to $15 per eligible customer trip.

MetroAccess Sustainability

MetroAccess is the region’s designated paratransit service for people whose disabilities prevent them from using bus and/or rail services for at least some of their trips. As outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), paratransit services like MetroAccess were designed to be a safety net. However, in many places, including the Metro service region, demand for paratransit has grown at unsustainable rates. To address the growth in demand for MetroAccess, WMATA has been facilitating the availability of new alternative services among which MetroAccess customers could choose. The new alternatives include the Coordinated Alternatives to Paratransit Service (CAPS) pilot program for trips to/from human services agencies, and the highly successful TransportDC service that allows Washington, DC residents eligible for MetroAccess to call a cab for medical and work-related trips anywhere in DC for a flat, $5 fare. Read more…

Tens of Thousands of Customers Relied on Metrobus During SafeTrack Surges 3 and 4

September 12th, 2016 No comments

Surges 3 and 4 saw the highest shuttle bus ridership of SafeTrack so far. Overall, Metrobus shuttles moved around 17,000 trips per day during Surge 3, and around 25,000 trips per day during Surge 4.

With shuttles every 2.5 minutes and Metroway running every 6 minutes, there were about 35 buses per hour during peak periods on Route 1. Taken together, the two services moved about 31,000 passengers per day during Surge 4. As a comparison, that stretch of road serves about 41,000 cars per day.

A small portion of shuttle bus ridership was on the Franconia to Pentagon shuttle, with the remainder on shuttles between Pentagon City, Braddock Road, Crystal City, and National Airport. The sheer volume of ridership on the shuttle buses made the shuttle operation Metro’s busiest bus line, albeit temporarily. At 25,000 trips per day, the shuttles moved more riders than we typically move on any other major bus route, including some of the busiest like 16th Street NW, or the various 30’s buses.

Not all rail customers chose to use the shuttles.

Some riders, especially those traveling locally, switched to other bus routes. Ridership on the Metroway premium bus service more than doubled compared to June, and during Surge 4, it nearly tripled compared to the same period last year! Ridership on the 10A was up 29-64%, and 11Y ridership was up 128-133%, or more than double. Metrobus added service on all of these alternative lines, and Metroway did not charge fares during the Surges. We will be monitoring future ridership to see if any customers decide to remain with Metroway after the surges end.

Overall bus ridership on other lines in the Surge area was up 1%.

These first SafeTrack surges highlight one of bus’ key attributes as a mode: flexibility.

Metrobus has supported the SafeTrack work by moving tens of thousands of passengers along corridors that don’t normally see that level of demand for bus service, in different locations every couple of weeks. There’s been plenty of work behind the scenes to make that happen:

  • The planning and scheduling team has worked out which routes the buses should take, which bus bays they should use at the stations, what time the buses need to leave the garages, and more.
  • Our customer facilities team has ensured there were signs up at all the stops and stations pointing the way to bus service.
  • The bus maintenance team has kept all the buses for SafeTrack up and running.
  • The street operations staff have answered passengers’ questions and worked with the Bus Operations Communications Center and the bus operators to make sure everything ran smoothly.
  • Bus operators have learned new routes in a very short amount of time and safely taken tens of thousands of passengers where they needed to go.

Usually, Metrobus makes service changes only about once a quarter, since passengers count on the consistency and reliability of our service. But when it’s needed, bus service can be very nimble, allowing it to support the important maintenance work being done during SafeTrack.

Did you ride Metroway or the shuttles during Surge 3 or 4? What did you think? What other opportunities are there to capitalize on the flexibility of bus service?

Help Metro Get Smarter: Now Hiring Business Intelligence Analyst

August 4th, 2016 1 comment

If you are great with data and love cities and transit, we have a job for you.


We were excited to announce that a job listing for a Business Intelligence Analyst position within Planning’s Applied Planning Intelligence unit has just been posted.  We are looking for a healthy overlap between a data scientist and a transit nerd.  For the full job description, head over to the wmata.com/careers site, scroll down and click on View all jobs.  A short description is posted below.

Currently a team of two, we work to convert Metro’s many data sources into information that can be used to inform plans, policies and procedures.  Many of our projects have been featured here on PlanItMetro, including:

Read more…

TOD in Prince George’s County Getting off the Ground

July 7th, 2016 1 comment

Prince George’s County’s bold new vision for transit-oriented development deserves attention and support!

For more than a decade, regional planners and economic development officials have lamented the relative lack of development around Prince George’s County Metrorail stations, and yours truly had opportunities to challenge its leadership to up its game in accelerating transit-oriented development policy and practice more than a few times.  On this blog, we’ve highlighted how lack of development has hindered ridership growth from the County, and we’ve articulated the benefits that would accrue to the region if Prince George’s County were to achieve the development potential of its Metrorail stations – in fact, Metrorail might just run an operating surplus if those areas were developed.

Now we all have reason to cheer and hope that these challenges and aspirational goals might be more than just wish lists and a hope certificate.

TOD in Prince Georges County Mar 2016 Read more…

SafeTrack’s Surge 2 Bus Shuttle Proves Bus Rapid Transit Can Work Here

June 28th, 2016 No comments

The shuttle buses at Eastern Market during Surge 2 are arriving every two minutes at rush hour, and are moving nearly the same number of people as 3 lanes of Pennsylvania Avenue SE.  This shows how much we can achieve by giving buses priority – lanes, signal priority, and more – on busy streets. 


Commuters transferring from shuttle buses Eastern Market station (photo by author)

For the last week, Metrobus has been operating bus shuttles between Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road, to provide alternatives around SafeTrack Surge 2 while we rebuild tracks and infrastructure on that segment of Metrorail.  While still moving less than half the the riders as what Metrorail normally moves, the shuttles are moving an impressive number of people:

  • In the morning rush hours, buses are arriving at Eastern Market every 2 minutes on average
  • Shuttle buses are delivering 1,800 people per hour to Eastern Market between 8:00 and 9:00am.  This is about the same as the number of vehicles that 3 lanes of Pennsylvania Ave. SE typically moves (1,500-2,000 vehicles per hour per direction, according to TPB Regional Transportation Data Clearinghouse).
  • Around 16,000-17,000 people per day are riding the shuttles, or about two-thirds of the number of vehicles driven through the corridor in a day (25,000 average annual daily traffic)
  • Traffic Control Officers from DDOT are critical to this operation, ensuring that everyone moves safely and efficiently

Read more…

New Metrobus schedules begin this Sunday

June 23rd, 2016 No comments

On Sunday, June 26, service changes will take effect on Metrobus routes across the region.

Bus%20Gallery%20Place%20041816-5908[1]These adjustments aim to improve system reliability, route simplicity, and customer service. The bulk of this service change impacts bus routes in Virginia. Check below to see if your routes will be affected and look up upcoming timetables here.

DC: 42, 52, 53, 54, 60, 79, D1, E2, E4, G2, L2, N2, N3, N4, N6, A2, A6, A8, A42, A46, A48, D3, D4, G8, P6, V1, V2, V4, X1, X3, X9

MD: B29, B31, J11, J12, J13, K11, K12, R12, V14

VA: 1A, 1B, 1C, 1E, 1Z, 2B, 3T, 4A, 4B, 9A, 10A, 10B, 10E, 10R, 10S, 15M, 17M, 18E, 18J, 18P, 21A, 21D, 23A, 23B, 23T, 28X, 29K

Late Night Bus Maps and Options

June 15th, 2016 2 comments

Updated 7/6/2016

Now that Metrorail closes at midnight on weekends, what buses are available? New regional bus maps can help you find alternatives to Metrorail after midnight.

Since the launch of the SafeTrack program, rush-hour alternatives have been a hot topic across the region, especially for commuters impacted by the rail surges. However, it’s also important to address navigation strategies for people impacted by Metrorail’s earlier weekend closing time — midnight rather than 3:00 A.M. on Friday and Saturday nights (technically early Saturday and Sunday mornings). While nightlife patrons are part of the mix, most of our late-night rail customers are traveling to or from work. Since teleworking may not always be an option for these commuters, night owls should be aware of the bus options available after midnight.

We’ve assembled bus service availability, by hour, on weekends from Metrobus and our regional partners, and put the data on maps!

To see individual route labels, click on a map to expand.

Detailed timetable information is available from Metrobus, Fairfax Connector, Ride On, ART, and DC Circulator. Some bus service differs slightly between the two weekend days; you can plan a specific trip in Metro’s Trip Planner.

Note: Metrobus map data is based on information from the Late Night Service Study published in April 2016 and may not reflect recent service changes on certain bus routes. We will follow up next week with any updates.

Updated 7/6/2016: Map graphics have been revised to reflect current service patterns.

More maps below the fold:  Read more…

Biking near Buses: Watch Out for Blind Spots!

May 19th, 2016 4 comments

Bus operators are trained to look for cyclists, but they can’t see you if you’re in their blind spot. Come see a bus’s blind spots for yourself at Fort Totten!

Unless you’ve driven a bus (or large truck) yourself, it can be hard to get a feel for where the blind spots are in real life. This Bike to Work Day (May 20th), come see for yourself what bus operators can — and, more importantly, can’t — see on the road. Metro’s Fort Totten pit-stop will feature a live Metrobus demonstration with experienced Metrobus instructors. Hop in the driver’s seat (and who doesn’t want to experience that air cushioning!), check the mirrors, and you’ll know where it’s safe to ride. While you’re there, brush up on your skills securing your bike on the bus’ bike rack.

When buses and bikes share space on the road, visibility is the key to safety. Metrobus operators receive regular training on safety around bicyclists, but they need your help as well.

Remember these tips when riding near buses: Read more…

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

Bike to Work (or Metro) Day 2016

May 18th, 2016 No comments

Metro will host three Bike to Work Day pit-stops on May 20th; sign up now!

Friday May 20th is Bike to Work Day 2016, and Metro is gearing up to be part of the fun (Yes, biking to Metro counts!). While it may be appropriate that National Bike Month has opened with rainy Dutch weather, we’re optimistic that the sun will break through in time.

Sign up now and plan to stop by one of the 83 pit-stops across the region. Each pit-stop will be chock-full of food, drinks, giveaways, city cycling safety tips and more. We may be biased, but we think the best pit-stops are at Fort Totten, East Falls Church, and College Park stations.

Hope to see you there!

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

16th Street Plan Offers Big Benefits, Great Value

April 25th, 2016 No comments

DDOT’s 16th Street transit plan will benefit Metrobus riders, drivers and taxpayers alike and could “break even” in just a year and a half.

We know the problems with buses on 16th Street NW: overcrowding, slow speeds, lengthy boarding times, and bunched buses. While both the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Metro have made several small but important improvements in the past two years to improve traffic flow and increase bus capacity on 16th Street, both agencies realize that more needs to be done. Now, after a year of detailed study in partnership with Metro, DDOT has developed a set of recommendations (PDF) that will save time and improve the customer experience in the coming years. As an added bonus, it comes with a relatively cheap price tag, yielding great value for taxpayers.

16th Street Crowding

Riders aboard a crowded S-Line bus (click for study information)

Read more…