‘Engage’

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

August 25th, 2014 No 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…

Fans Take Metro Home From Soccer Game

August 13th, 2014 12 comments

Over 7,000 customers took Metro home from the soccer game at Fedex Field on Tuesday night, July 29th, and some used the Silver Line!

While researching the ridership patterns of customers using Silver Line and comparing the usage on Monday, July 28th, to Tuesday, July 29th, we started to see an interesting pattern:  a lot more customers were traveling from Morgan Blvd to Wiehle-Reston East.  When we drilled down into the data, we found that these trips were occurring in the evening, well past the end of the PM Peak.  A few web searches later we discovered that a well attended soccer game had been held at FedEx Field on that night.

We then wanted to know, how many and where did they travel?  The chart below compares entries at Morgan Blvd on the 29th and contrasts it against the entries of the previous Tuesday, July 22nd.  It is pretty obvious that except for the soccer game, it was a pretty normal day at Morgan Blvd, good for comparison.  This data tells us that around 7,500 customers took Metro home from the game.  But where did they go?

The chart below shows the stations that our Morgan Blvd customers used to exit the system after the game.  There are a lot of unreadable data points on there, true, but a few really stand out, as annotated.  Most of the big spikes are end-of-line stations, including our newest, Wiehle-Reston East.  This graph also tells us that customers traveling to Wiehle-Reston East made it to their home station faster than those going to Franconia-Springfield.  In total, over 500 customers took the Silver Line home to one of the five new stations after the game.

This chart also raises the question, why were so many soccer fans going to Eastern Market, Metro Center, Foggy Bottom and Pentagon City?  Those are the earlier spikes shown on the graph.   Perhaps those are the neighborhoods where high densities of soccer fans live, or maybe the locations of good sports bars for post-game refreshment.

Did you attend the soccer game and take Metro afterwards?  Where did you go and what was your trip purpose?

 

BRT comes to DC via Hollywood

June 4th, 2014 1 comment
Video still showing Cleveland's center-running BRT, from the filming of Captain America, Winter Soldier.

Video still showing Cleveland’s center-running BRT, from the filming of Captain America, Winter Soldier.  Click image for original video.

I recently watched “Captain America:  The Winter Soldier” with some friends recently at the theater near Gallery Pl-Chinatown.  I had heard rumors that the film was set in DC, which was a selling point since it’s always fun hearing names of local streets or venues and picking out inconsistencies between Hollywood’s portrayal and the real thing.  Our friends over at Greater Greater Washington already noted that this film replaces parts of Rosslyn and Roosevelt Island with a massive S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters complex.

But little did I know that the film would take me to Cleveland.  Read more…

Categories: Transit Travelogue Tags: , , ,

Singapore MRT Rail Map Diagrams Show the Way

January 27th, 2014 2 comments
Picture 040

Paya Lebar MRT Station Map (click & zoom for detail)

Picture 041

Travel Times Between Stations

While waiting for a Metro train one day in Singapore, I noticed their rail map diagram had a big white space and then the rest of the map. Upon closer inspection the ‘white’ part was actually a grayed out part of the rail map showing the route the train had already covered. Having that information is very useful, particularly for a traveler unfamiliar with the system. One knows if they are starting at this particular station (Paya Lebar), what their options might be if he/she actually wanted to go in the opposite direction. This information gives the rider a helpful reference point in relationship to the rest of the system.  Also upon closer inspection I saw that the map gave expected travel times between stations. How great is that?

Categories: Transit Travelogue Tags: ,

PlanItMetro at Metro Hack Night

January 23rd, 2014 No comments

I was invited to present a wide variety of data visualizations featured on the blog at a recent meeting of transportation techies.

I had the honor of being invited to present at the 2nd meeting of the Transportation Techies Meetup group, Metro Hack Night on January 2, 2014.  I used this opportunity to illustrate some of the data visualizations I’ve developed using Metro data and talk a bit about the technology behind them.

The first was the the visualization of 9 years worth of rail ridership data.  This visualization was created in D3 (“data driven documents”) using code originally developed by “mbostock” posted on the D3 examples page.  D3 is a javascript library that allows the creation of really powerful and interactive visualizations.  The downside of D3, as I noted, is that the code itself can be confusing and hard to follow.   So much of learning a new coding language is looking at what others have done and learning from it.  D3′s simplified notation makes it really hard for me to follow.  (NOTE: this visualization has recently been updated to include daily Metrorail ridership for all of 2013.)

The second was the visualization of one day of Metrorail station activity.     This video was created using Processing, a Java-based visualization tool that takes care of a lot of the coding “grunt work” and allows a programmer to focus on the data and the visualization.  I really enjoy Java so I took the opportunity this project provided to add a few flourishes such as a clock face and “sunrise” and “sunset.”  Read more…

Categories: Engage Tags: , ,

Courtesy Messages – Singaporean Style

January 13th, 2014 1 comment

I was recently in Singapore for vacation and while I was there I used their delightfully clean and efficient rail system (more on that later). While walking through the stations, I spotted several movie posters, which actually happened to be posters for YouTube-based public information message ‘movies’. The movies are put out by the Land Transport Authority, which is a part of the government that does the planning for their transit systems.

Picture 110

‘May I Have a Seat Please?’

Picture 109

‘Can You Move in Please?’

Can you move in please? leaves viewers with two messages: 1. move to the back of the bus so that everyone can get on, and 2. take off your backpack or move any bags you may have out of the way. Some of the movie is lost in translation I think culturally speaking but still, you get the point.

Excuse me, May I have a seat please? is about exactly what the title suggests. This movie especially rings true in this day and age as a lot of commuters have their noses buried in their books and cell phones (even more prevalent in Singapore – a lot of people walking in stations and outside while watching movies!!).

The courtesy issues that Singapore is tackling rings true here in DC too, as well as any city that has transit.

FY2015 Budget and Beyond

January 7th, 2014 1 comment

We want to hear from you! Interested Image for MM - Proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Budgetin the FY2015 budget? Answer our survey or participate in an upcoming public meeting. Want to talk more long-term strategy? Connect on MindMixer.

We are seeking feedback from riders and offering multiple ways to comment on the proposed FY2015 budget and fare changes, as well as Metro’s Capital Improvement Program. You can participate in any or all of the following:

  • Survey: The survey includes questions about the fare changes, costs, and the benefits you will see going forward. The survey is open until 5 p.m. on February 11, 2014.
  • Public Hearings: The six public hearings will provide an opportunity for riders to give formal testimony on the docket of proposed budget actions.

Looking to get into the weeds and talk about some long(er)-term opportunities? We have started a new discussion on MindMixer to gather your ideas and thoughts about priorities and potential future changes to the balance of funding between riders and local government, continuing to allow fares to be paid in cash on Metrobus, parking, new fare options, and priorities for a down payment on Metro2025 initiatives.

Read more…

Tokyo Metro Signage – You Can Find Your Way Without Reading Japanese

January 6th, 2014 2 comments

Ten years ago I moved to Tokyo for work. Unfortunately, my Japanese language skills were non-existent, so I spent much of those early months perpetually lost on Tokyo’s streets. But underground it was a different story. If you’ve ever been, you know that many of the central Tokyo stations are massive – multiple exits, mezzanines, pedestrian tunnels, and tons and tons of people. However, Tokyo Metro, the JR East Lines and the private rail lines that together create the city’s rail network have a good wayfinding system provided in Japanese and English that make it fairly easy to get around underground.

Which car should I stand in?

Which car should you use?

Read more…

Survey Analysis Details Non-Work Trips on Metrorail

December 17th, 2013 10 comments

Almost one in five trips on Metrorail are NOT work-related. Who is making these trips, and where and why are they making them?

Woodley Park-Zoo 042511-131

Metrorail is how many of us in the region get to work.  But, as we will illustrate below, many of us also use it to do other things.

Using data from the 2012 Metrorail Passenger Survey, we were able to determine that about 125,000 or 17% trips on an average weekday do not involve travel either to or from ones’ place of work.   This is virtually identical to the results from the 2007 survey.  In order to understand how people use the system for non-work trips, we sorted out everyone who is either going to or coming from work from everyone else.    For example, a trip stopping off at the store after work would not be counted; however, a trip starting out at home and traveling to school would be counted.  In terms of where these non-work trips are going, most are returning home followed by “personal trip” and “shopping or meal.”  

Work-Non-Work-Pies-01

Read more…