Delivering the transit system that the region needs will require an unequivocal commitment of additional resources from internal and external stakeholders. Simply put, the rehabilitation work being accomplished at the time of the writing of this document will not be nearly enough to keep up with the region’s needs, and without additional resources it will be unlikely that the region can continue to enjoy a transit network that contributes to competitiveness and makes the Washington metropolitan area one of the most desirable places to live and work.
Metro – Doing Business Differently
Metro recognizes that rebuilding the region’s transit system also means rebuilding the region’s transit authority – and will continue to be hard at work on this task in preparation for the implementation of Momentum. In the near term this means revamping nuts and bolts elements of the authority, including but not limited to: identifying ways that Metro can do its job more efficiently while increasing performance; evaluating its contracting and procurement philosophy to emphasize lifecycle contract and asset management; engineering a budgeting process that allows Departments to strive to achieve the goals of Momentum within the context of tight fiscal and financial discipline; and a human capital strategy that must have the right talent in-place and in-queue. In the long term, this means completing the journey to a much more business-like operating and execution philosophy for the organization.
Business leaders were asked a series of questions about Momentum to gauge the extent that they believe the strategic plan is focused in the right direction. Five different growth options were presented and respondents were asked their level of support for each of them. The options included:
- Running all eight-car trains;
- Installing bus-only lanes as well as other bypass measures;
- Improving stations via widening platforms, more escalators/elevators, pedestrian tunnels;
- Improving communications infrastructure at stations, bus stops, online & fare payment; and
- Relieving track and station congestion at Rosslyn with new infrastructure.
There was clear support for the eight-car trains, with three out of four business leaders choosing this as a priority. Improved communications was also supported by six out of ten surveyed. The rest of the improvements had support from approximately one half of the total respondents. Read more…
What happens if Metro completes MetroForward and ceases there? Simply put, the region cannot afford for Metro to get the system back to where it should have been, but stop short of preparing the system for the growth that has already created overcrowding conditions and service disruptions, let alone prepare for additional growth that has yet to come.
Note that the region is already the most congested area in the country, and Metro is a huge part of what keeps this region moving and working in spite of its transportation gridlock. Stopping short of implementing Metro 2025 and Momentum means that the region’s attractiveness as a place to live and work may be threatened. The region could face the following consequences:
- Metro will degrade quickly with more delays and service disruptions – visible progress will be lost;
- Shoulder-to-shoulder, rush hour conditions experienced today on an increasing number of rail lines and stations will grow system-wide and become worse;
- Crowding similar to Presidential Inauguration Days will likely become the norm;
- Customers will be left with 1970s-era communication and trip planning services;
- Residents would have fewer jobs within an acceptable commuting distance and employers would have access to a much smaller pool of employees; and
- The regional transit system will advance towards antiquity, harming the region’s competitive advantage for talent, jobs and investment dollars.
Metro also delivers quality-of-life benefits to individuals by reducing the costs of travel and minimizing environmental impacts. Without transit:
- Congestion at peak times would increase 25 percent, costing over $1.0 billion annually in wasted time.
- Households would spend an additional $500 million/year in auto expenditures, including an additional 41 million gallons of fuel annually.
- Air quality would worsen because of an additional 260 tons of volatile organic compounds, 22 tons of particulate matter and 500,000 tons of CO2 equivalent in the air, the equivalent of 9 billion party balloons.
Proximity to transit, especially high-quality, frequent, high-capacity rail, increases property values, attracts development and provides mobility choices. Property values are higher near Metro’s high-quality, high-frequency, high-capacity services, and deliver an incremental increase in total tax revenue to the Compact jurisdictions.
- Property taxes on land around Metrorail stations generate $3.1 billion annually in revenues to the jurisdictions.
- Of these revenues, $224 million is extra value that would not exist without Metro. This amount is equivalent to providing the following public services.
In September 2012, MWCOG released Economy Forward, a call to action for a more competitive metropolitan Washington. This report called for strong centers with housing, jobs, and access to transit as a means to enhance the region’s competitiveness. Through monthly meetings with public and private nonprofit and academic leaders, it concluded that the transportation network is one of the five critical challenges in recruiting new business to the Washington region. It also concluded that “without adequate funding, Metro and the region’s highways will become even more congested, which will hurt the region’s productivity and economic growth potential.”
Metro is critical to the prosperity of the region and has a positive effect on business activity. Within one half-mile of rail stations and bus stops there are two million jobs, which account for 54 percent of all jobs in the region. The figure to the right shows how future employment will be focused in the Metrorail service areas of the central jurisdictions and the inner suburbs.
The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) added 275,000 households and 295,000 jobs between 2004 and 2010. Of that growth, 6.4 percent of new households and 13.8 percent of new jobs located within one-quarter mile of urban Metro stations and one-half mile of suburban ones. The land area around these Metro stations comprises only 1.2 percent of the MSA land area, so Metro-adjacent locations are capturing far more than an average share of growth. When asked, 83 percent of business leaders surveyed by Metro in March, 2013 noted the importance of Metro to their future success. Employers have chosen Metro station areas as highly desirable places to locate jobs and attract employees. Seventy-seven percent of them said the proximity of a Metrorail station was important to where they decided to locate their businesses.
Metro does far more for the region than simply providing transportation. It also provides economic, social, and environmental benefits which contribute to the region’s health and vitality.
Making the Case for Transit (2011) found that without Metro and the regional transit system that it feeds:
- There would be one million more auto trips per day;
- Congestion would increase by 25 percent;
- All Potomac River crossings would need four to six additional lanes; and
- Downtown Washington would require 200,000 more parking spaces, which is the equivalent of 166 blocks of five-story garages, at a cost of at least $4 billion (2012), excluding land.