‘Planning Studies’

Prioritizing Bike and Pedestrian Station Access Projects Near Metrorail, Part 2

November 24th, 2015 No comments

Other than ridership potential, what are some of the other ways we can rank access projects relative to each other?

In our last post, we discussed how bike and pedestrian access projects relate back to ridership and how that relationship could be used to prioritize projects. In this post, we talk about some of the other criteria we are using to prioritize projects.

Bike and Ped. Fatalities, Sample Data Set

Bike and Pedestrian Fatalities, Sample Data Set

The first is safety. We are pulling together data about bike and pedestrian crashes near our stations that result in injuries or fatalities. We will then link these data in GIS back to the location the project, with the idea being that a new crosswalk or dedicated bike path in an area with a lot of recent crashes should score higher and deserves more attention. A safer path of travel helps not only our customers but all walkers and cyclists in these areas.

We also want to explore some other prioritization criteria. Here is what we have come up with: Read more…

Beyond Rush Hour – Taking a Peek at the Off-Peak

November 18th, 2015 3 comments

Metrorail ridership isn’t only about rush hour! Here’s a deeper look at why off-peak riders travel, and what segments are most traveled.

You may not be surprised that the peak period travel on Metrorail is dominated by commuting and business related trips.  Every day from opening to 9:30am, nearly 90 percent of passengers travel to work and business.  However do you know that over almost a third of daily ridership takes place in the off peak?  This post explores what is happening during weekday off-peak periods.

The weekday “off-peak” time typically refers to the weekday midday period (9:30am to 3:00pm) and the weekday evening period (from 7:00pm to closing), excluding late night service on Friday and Saturdays between midnight and 3:00am. In recent years, weekday off-peak travel demand has remained stable at 32 percent of the daily ridership, with the midday ridership at 19-20 percent and the evening ridership at 12 percent.

Most non-work trips, such as personal, recreational, and shopping trips, occur during the off-peak times and are spread fairly evenly between the midday and evening, as illustrated in Figure 1. 

blog figure

Figure 1: Percentage of Non-Work Trips by Time of Day (2012 Metrorail Passenger Survey)


The off-peak, non-work travel market has showed strong growth between 2007 and 2012 (our last two passenger surveys where we can distinguish between work and non-work travel). According to the Metrorail passenger surveys, off-peak non-work trips grew by 15 percent for the midday and evening from 2007 to 2012, higher than the 9 percent increase in the daily non-work trips. Read more…

Prioritizing Bike and Pedestrian Station Access Projects Near Metrorail

November 1st, 2015 No comments

We all know improving station access is good.  But, how do we rank access projects relative to each other?   Step 1: Ridership

In our recent post, we gave you an overview of our Station Access Investment Strategy project.  We’ve identified 1,000s of recommendations for new pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure near our Metrorail stations and need a way to prioritize them.  After some thought, we’ve come up with a number of potential criteria.  In this post, we’ll discuss those that deal with ridership.

July 2014 Post on Ridership Potential from New Ped./ Bike Projects

Map of the Southern Ave walk shed from July 2014 Post on Ridership Potential from New Ped./ Bike Projects

Once again, one of key concepts we’ve been telling you about in recent months is that by improving access to stations we can grow ridership.  For stations with relatively small walk sheds, we’ll conduct a detailed analysis of what happens to the walk shed when the proposed projects are built.  For example, add a sidewalk at Cheverly and the walk shed will grow by X%.  We will then look at the amount of households and jobs in the newly connected area and, using some methods we’ve shown you in other posts, calculate the potential ridership gained by the new project.  The higher the potential ridership gain, the better the project scores.

But, we also want to understand the value of a new project to a part of the station that is already connected to the network and how this could relate back to ridership.  To do this, we’ve come up some other metrics.  They include: Read more…

Three Tidbits: What The Metrobus 2014 Survey Can Tell Us

October 26th, 2015 7 comments

The latest survey of Metrobus riders is a gold mine of information about who our bus riders are, why they travel, and more. Here are the answers to just three questions:

Who’s on the Bus on 16th St. NW? Metro planners and DC residents alike have advocated for a possible bus lane on 16th St. NW, where Metrobuses carry over 50% of the people, are scheduled for about every two minutes, and are frequently bunched and overcrowded. The survey can tell us what kinds of riders use that corridor – giving us clues to what kind of new riders a bus lane might attract.

S-Line Ridership by Juris of Residence

 S-Line demogs

Survey says:

  • Three quarters of S-Line (S1, S2, S4, and S9 combined) riders live in D.C., while the rest hail primarily from Montgomery County
  • S-Line riders are younger and more affluent, than the system-wide average for bus riders.
  • They are slightly more likely to be car-free and employed by the federal government, but the difference is very small.

Read more…

Metro Studying Ways to Improve Bike/Ped Access to Stations

October 7th, 2015 No comments

Improving walk and bike access is a cost effective way to increase ridership and improve the efficiency of the Metrorail network.   Where are these improvements needed and how should we (as a region) prioritize them?

Landover Walkshed

What projects might increase the size of the walk shed of the Landover Metrorail station?

In a number of earlier posts starting last summer, we’ve discussed the concept of walk sheds and explored the relationship between walkability, land use, and Metrorail ridership.  One conclusion of this effort:  grow the size of the walk shed and you’ll grow ridership.

Generally, we only have control over what happens on our own property.  While we have made great strides in identifying and prioritizing bike/ped access improvements on our own property, increasing the size of the walk sheds requires coordination with state or local agencies who own, plan, design and construct roads, sidewalks and pathways near our stations.  We know that in order to have a larger impact on walk and bike access, we need to cast a wider net and identify projects that are up to one mile from our station entrance.  We have created a plan — the Station Access Investment Strategy — to highlight some of these projects as priorities for our local partners to use as they develop their capital improvement plans. Read more…

Since Time is Money, Metro Wants a Business Partner to Help Metrobus Go More and Stop Less

September 11th, 2015 3 comments

Metro is exploring opportunities to partner with a private company or investor to pilot off-board SmarTrip® loading to help improve customer travel times and lower our operating costs.

Metrobus speeds have steadily decreased over time as the region grew and traffic worsened. This not only negatively impacts Metro customers, but also increases our operating costs. As traffic congestion erodes bus speeds, we need to deploy more vehicles and operators on the busiest routes in order to maintain service frequencies. We know that behind the statistics stand legions of bus riders who want faster service, as well as counties and cities that want lower bills for that service.

Crowded boarding and long dwell times

Crowded boarding and long dwell times

Off-Board Fare Payment and Transit Prioritization

There is no silver bullet to speed up transit. Instead, agencies can use a combination of technology and on-street treatments to increase bus speeds and move more passengers. One of the few prioritization strategies Metro can undertake on its own is allowing off-board fare loading, moving all SmarTrip® value loading from the farebox to kiosks near bus stops. This would reduce the amount of time it takes for passengers to board buses and pay fares, in turn speeding up bus trips.  We have looked into this in the past and have recently revisited this important concept. Read more…

Does Metrobus Need a Refresh?

August 31st, 2015 4 comments

Metrobus has a strong identity as a regional transit provider, but as the region has grown it hasn’t kept up with changing development patterns. Does the regional role of Metrobus need to be rethought?

A previous post described the historical context of Metrobus as a regional bus service provider, as well as the Metrobus regional service criteria developed by a regional “Blue Ribbon Mobility Panel” in 1997.  What has happened to the Metrobus regional service since the 1998 Board action? Does today’s regional service still meet the original criteria?  Metro’s planners recently conducted an assessment to address these questions.

Majority of “regional” Metrobus service performs well

Overall, Metrobus regional lines provide higher levels of service and achieve higher cost efficiency than non-regional lines.  Currently Metrobus operates 106 regional lines and 55 non-regional lines  The overall higher ridership of the regional lines resulted in an average operating cost of $3.50 per passenger trip, lower than the non-regional service at $4.50.


Read more…

Categories: Metrobus Studies Tags:

Ask the Professors – How Local Land Use Decisions Impact Metrorail Ridership

August 24th, 2015 1 comment

This post is guest-written by Chao Liu, Hiro Iseki, and Gerrit Knaap, researchers from University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth, who helped Metro develop our Land Use Ridership Model.

Even though Metro doesn’t control where new jobs and households locate in the region, these decisions are critical to the agency’s ridership and financial future. 

It is well known that the form and intensity of development in and near rail transit station areas can have measurable impacts on transit ridership.  For these reasons, transit oriented developments (TOD) generally feature high-density construction, mixed land uses, and bike and pedestrian friendly infrastructure.  But not all TODs are alike, and the effects of TOD on transit ridership are likely to depend on how well the station is connected both locally and regionally, whether the station is near the center or end of a transit corridor, and what kinds of jobs and household are located nearby.

To explore how different forms of development might impact ridership on the Washington Metrorail system, Dr. Hiroyuki Iseki and Dr. Chao Liu assisted Metro to develop a direct ridership model (DRM), called Metro’s Land Use Ridership Model.  A DRM uses statistical techniques to quantify the relationship between entries and exits at rail stations and land uses nearby.  This model can then be used to estimate the number of passengers who will access the station, by waking or biking, as a result of changes in land use features, transit service characteristics, and socio-demographics within the walkshed of any given station.

The direct ridership model includes a large number of variables for each station, including the density, diversity, and design of local environment; transit service and connectivity; job accessibility by auto and transit; walk score; the availability of parking; the demographics of nearby residents; the number and types of jobs nearby, and more.  The model was estimated for the AM Peak, Midday, PM Peak, and Evening travel periods.  The AM Peak model is best suited for estimating the increase in morning boardings that would result from locating more households near the station; the PM Peak model is best suited for estimating the increase in afternoon boardings that would result from locating more jobs near the station.

Pedicted AM Peak Entries per New HH

Map 1. Predicted AM Peak Entries per New Household

The impact of adding jobs and households near stations varies by station area.  Map 1 above, for example, shows the estimated entries per new household in the morning peak—that is, how many additional boardings would occur in the AM peak if one additional household was located in the walkshed of the station.  Stations shown by red dots gain more than 0.57 boardings per day, for each new household in the walk shed, while stations shown with green dots gain only about 0.20 boardings per day. As a concrete example, Rhode Island Row is a 274-unit, mixed-use, TOD project built on a WMATA site.  Situated along the busy Red Line, the project has long been considered as a prime location for new housing development.  According to the DRM model, adding 274 new households near the Rhode Island station would increase boardings by 144 passengers in the AM peak.  The same development at the New Carrollton station, however, would have added only 52 passengers.  This is because, compared to New Carrollton, the Rhode Island Avenue station has better job accessibility and more frequent transit service, and is thus likely to stimulate more transit ridership. Read more…

2014 “Metrobus Survey” Complete

August 5th, 2015 No comments

Metro is pleased to announce that the 2014 “Metrobus Survey” is officially complete. Stay tuned for results.

30s buses 081514

Read more…

Categories: Planning Studies Tags:

Imagining Metrobus 2.0

October 20th, 2014 23 comments

Metro is re-imagining the region’s bus network to improve travel times, enhance connectivity, and deliver service cost-effectively.

Network A - Principal Routes

Over the past year, as part of the Metrobus Network Effectiveness Study, Metro began exploring potential future Metrobus restructuring scenarios based on the region’s growth trajectory over the next two decades. The scenarios also reflect the market segments where Metrobus can be more effective — places like the urban core, activity centers, and major arterial streets. Planners took the Metrobus network in the region’s Constrained Long-Range Plan (CLRP) for 2030 as the basis of comparison and formulated several network restructuring alternatives. This post will introduce the alternative networks, while future posts will present the performance of the networks, as well as a completely new proposed network built from the ground up. The flow chart below illustrates the network alternatives, followed by a brief explanation about each alternative.

Read more…