‘Engage’

“Virtual” Tunnel Yields Real Benefits

November 4th, 2014 14 comments

Use of the “Farragut Crossing” virtual tunnel is strong, averaging around 18,000 trips per month during the more temperate months, dropping to 15,000 during the winter.

Users of the Metrorail system come up with a lot of different ideas for how Metro can better serve their needs.  Ideas often come from the blogging community and are sometimes considered by Metro planners, researchers and leadership.  One such idea was the virtual tunnel between Farragut North and Farragut WestNow dubbed “Farragut Crossing” via a Facebook naming contest, this fare policy update allows transfers between the two Farragut stations without being charged two separate fares.

Farragut Crossing was first opened in October of 2011 and monthly usage increased from just a few thousand trips in its first few months to a max of over 21,000 in May of 2014.  Since then, it’s settled to around 18,000 during the fair-weather months.

Read more…

Where Are Silver Line Riders Going?

October 9th, 2014 8 comments

Ridership patterns on the Silver Line show that Metro’s new line is serving a truly regional market.

Now that school is back in session, the new Silver Line just completed its first full week where “normal” travel patterns are beginning to emerge. Ridership is strong, but where are these new passengers going? The diagram below shows destinations of all riders entering a Silver Line station in the week of September 8-12, 2014.

Where Are SV Riders Going_Sept 2014_typicalweekdayV3

Some observations emerge from this: Read more…

Early Ridership on the Silver Line

October 8th, 2014 6 comments

After just two months, ridership on the Silver Line is off to a solid start: Wiehle Ave is already over projections, reverse commuting is strong, and more. 

Now that school is back in session and most summer vacations over, here is an in-depth look at the week of September 8-12, 2014, when “normal” routines may have begun to emerge.

At around 15,000 entries per weekday, the Silver Line is off to a solid start.  Compared to the official projections from the 2004 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), we are achieving about 60% of the ridership projected for the end of the line’s first year:

Typical Weekday SV Ridership vs. ProjectionsWiehle station is already over opening-year projections and shows the highest ridership of all the new stations.  Tysons Corner station is strong as well, but we still have room to grow at all four stations located in the Tysons area.

Looking at ridership by time of day shows the Wiehle is a commuting powerhouse, but also that a strong reverse commute market is emerging at the other stations:

SV Ridership by 15-minute increment

  • McLean (in blue) is showing an early lead as a a “traditional” commute station, where most riders enter in the morning.
  • Tysons Corner is much more dominated by reverse commuters, and its morning rush extends into mid-morning (around 10:00am).  Evening ridership at Tysons Corners is also heavy. (More on off-peak ridership at Tysons coming soon)
  • Greensboro and Spring Hill show relatively light ridership so far, but ridership is expected to grow over time as development catches up with the new station.

What do you think?  Have you taken the Silver Line on a weekday? What was your experience?

The raw data by quarter-hour interval underlying this analysis is available in two formats: by station alone (2MB, .xlsx), and by origin-destination station (3MB, zipped tab-delimited .txt).

Categories: Engage Tags: , , ,

Nationals Playoff Games and Metrorail Ridership

October 3rd, 2014 No comments

When the Nationals reached the playoffs in 2012, about 12,000 fans per game took Metrorail – from all over the region, and even late at night!

Now that the Nationals have clinched a spot in the playoffs, Nationals Park will once again host October baseball beginning this afternoon. How many fans might take Metrorail to and from the game?

To answer that, let’s look back to 2012, the last time the Nats reached the playoffs. Games 3, 4, and 5 of the National League Division Series (NLDS) were played here at Nationals Park – Wednesday at 1:07 pm, Thursday at 4:07 pm, and Friday at 8:37 pm. Attendance at all three games was around 45,000 people. Here’s what ridership (Metrorail system entries) looked like at Navy Yard-Ballpark station on those days:

Nationals Ridership_NavyYard_NLDS2012_byHalfHour_v2

The sheer volume of passengers through Navy Yard station were impressive.  Sustaining over 4,000 entries per half-hour for nearly two hours is roughly equivalent to 4-lane highway, and exceeds what even the busiest stations achieve on a typical day.  For comparison, normal peak-of-peak volumes through Union Station, Metro Center, and Farragut West rarely exceed 3,000 entries per half hour. Read more…

Metrorail Riders Go Car-Free… Every Day!

September 19th, 2014 No comments

Many pledge to leave their car at home for a day on Car-Free Day September 22,but 20% of Metrorail riders don’t own a car and go car-free every single day!

Of course, Metrorail riders from zero-car households vary significantly across the stations – from over half of all riders at places like Columbia Heights, Benning Road, and Dupont Circle – to less than 10% at more suburban areas like Rockville, East Falls Church, or Franconia-Springfield.  The diagram below shows the share of riders who live in a zero-car household, by station:

RailMap-Diagram_CarFreeHHsPCT_forweb

Of course, ridership varies across stations too, so the next diagram shows the total number of rail riders from zero-car households:

RailMap-Diagram_CarFreeHHs_forweb

In addition to riders who are completely car-free, many others come from “car-light” households of one or no cars.  58% of Metrorail riders come from “car-light” households.  For many, access to Metrorail and Metrobus and other transit services is a big reason they can drop down to one or zero cars and still get around.  In fact, DC’s zero-car households number is climbing, with 88% of new DC households car-free.  For others, car ownership is a heavy financial burden they may not be able to afford. Stay tuned for a coming post which estimates riders who are car-free by choice, vs. by necessity.

Do you live in a car-free household?  How does Metro help meet your mobility needs?

The data shown here is derived from our 2012 Metrorail Passenger Survey and the raw data is available (.xlsx, 19k).

Astoria’s Old Riverfront Trolley

September 16th, 2014 2 comments

Old freight railroad tracks in Astoria, Oregon become a major tourist attraction, with the installation of an old historical trolley train.

Picture 144

Astoria’s riverfront view of Washington

Astoria, Oregon was once slated to be the largest port on the west coast of the United States. Well situated at the mouth of the Columbia River, there was booming trade — fur trade early on, and later fishing, fish canning, and timber — with its deep water port and connection to the Pacific Ocean. In fact, Astoria had the first US Post Office west of the Rocky Mountains. For about 100 years, from the late 1800s, Astoria was an economic center with its port, but by the mid 1970s, the economy had tanked with the decline of canneries and timber. Read more…

Discovering the Other Silver Line

September 1st, 2014 5 comments

MBTA’s Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is impressive and efficient, but could be easier to use for visitors.

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Boston’s Silver Line BRT at one of its Logan Airport stops. Photo by the author.

I recently flew to Boston for the first time in years and had the opportunity to ride their Silver Line BRT  that provides service between Boston Logan Airport and south Boston.  The service features some dedicated right-of-way, real-time arrival signage and a few actual stations.

The Silver Line has real-time arrival screens at Boston Logan, easing the wait time for customers excited to explore a city or return home.  The buses used are dual-power, meaning they run on electricity via overhead wires at some times and on diesel when there are no wires.  The switching between the two takes a few minutes but it really wasn’t very noticeable.

I was very impressed with the stations.  For example, the World Trade Center station is a significant and impressive structure, and felt more like a traditional rail station that a bus stop by far.  It features a multi-story tower topped with the “T” logo.  The station interior features side platforms, escalators and stairs, real-time arrival screens and public art.  A station like this makes a statement that high quality transit service will be operating here for a long time, despite not having rails in the ground. Read more…

Categories: Transit Travelogue Tags: , , ,

Data Download: May 2013-2014 Metrorail Ridership by Origin and Destination

August 28th, 2014 21 comments

DataDownloadFuzzyMay 2013 and 2014 Metrorail ridership data is available: what patterns do you see?

Following up on our last data download of rail ridership from May 2012, 2013 and 2014 are now available. These data now represent three “snapshots” in time of rail ridership, at a very fine level of detail.  This data can help answer questions, such as: where is ridership growth the strongest? Which destinations are becoming more or less popular?  How has off-peak vs. peak ridership changed? 

May 2013 Metrorail Ridership by Origin, Destination, TimePeriod, DayOfWeek (.xlsx, 3.3 MB)

May 2014 Metrorail Ridership by Origin, Destination, TimePeriod, DayOfWeek (.xlsx, 3.4 MB)

We invite you to tell us what you see, in the comments.

Technical notes on the data are the same as the last post.  This time, Saturdays and Sundays are shown in the same worksheet as weekdays.

Bordeaux: City of Wine and… (No) Wires?

August 25th, 2014 2 comments

Known to most Americans for its famous wine varieties, Bordeaux is also an innovator in surface transit technologies that allow for wireless tram operations on its downtown streets.

Two wireless trams serve paired center city station platforms

Two wireless trams serve paired center city station platforms

On a visit to Bordeaux in 2010, I drank its fabulous wines, walked along the Garonne, enjoyed its comfortable summer climate… and took note of its innovative trams (light rail/streetcar).  You might be thinking “trams… really?”  Yes!  While most systems are powered by overhead wires, when it opened in 2003 Bordeaux’s system was the only modern example of ground level powered wireless trams in the world.  The proprietary APS system allows for typical overhead wire operation in the areas outside the central city and operation with ground-level power (see photo below) inside it in order to preserve unobstructed views in the old city.  Although the system initially had reliability problems, it now seems to be performing well.

Read more…

Silver Line’s Smiling Faces

August 18th, 2014 No comments

Metro planner captures some smiles of excited Silver Line customers on camera opening weekend.

photo 1

Baby’s first Metrorail trip on SV’s first day.

I offered up my Saturday on a recent weekend to participate in something really cool, the opening of the new Metrorail Silver Line. Metro has a program where employees can help out during special events or scheduled trackwork to guide customers through the fare vending machines or navigate bus bridges. I took advantage of this opportunity because I knew it would be something special.

During my six-hour shift at McLean, I saw a lot of happy people excited to be among the first to ride the new rail line. There were only a few times that I was moved enough to capture the moment on camera. The first is the picture above, a one-month baby with his Silver Line commemorative SmarTrip card, taking his first trip on Metro. Let’s hope it will be the first of many to come. Read more…