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.
Metro is re-imagining the region’s bus network to improve travel times, enhance connectivity, and deliver service cost-effectively.
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.
The majority of late night bus boardings are in DC, focused along the 14th/16th Streets NW corridor.
As we’ve mentioned before, Metro is conducting a study examining late night bus service in the region. An initial step was to assess where the late night boardings are happening in order to determine which might be the best locations to focus in-person survey efforts. Below is a map showing the locations of the top 100 locations where riders board Metrobus from 11pm-4am each night. Rather than reflecting the total ridership of a stop, the magnitude of the circles on the map reflect that location’s share of overall late night bus ridership.
Top 100 Late Night Metrobus Boarding Locations*
Some notes on the map:
- Almost all of the major bus boarding locations (those with more than 1% of the total) are at Metrorail Stations, even though Metrorail stops operating just one hour into the late night period on weeknights.
- Not surprisingly, most of the boardings are in DC, many of which are concentrated in the 16th/14th St NW corridor from downtown to Columbia Heights.
- The data only reflect Metrobus boardings, so if boardings on local operators such as DC Circulator are added, the total numbers of late night bus boardings would be higher than what is shown here.
- Of course this only tells us where the riders are boarding, not necessarily where they’re going; we are investigating that as part of the study.
What do you see that stands out?
* Note that Southern Avenue Metro Station replaced 14th & U Street as an in-person rider survey location.
Customers boarding the 23A at Ballston
The distance between stops is of key concern to Metro and its customers. More closely spaced stops provide customers with more convenient access, as they are likely to experience a shorter walk to the nearest bus stop. However, closely-spaced stops are also likely to result in a longer ride for customers because of the number of times the bus stops — to decelerate, come to a complete stop and then accelerate and re-merge into traffic — is increased. This also can lead to increased fuel and maintenance costs.
Having fewer stops along a bus route benefits passengers not only by reducing the time it takes for them to make their trip, but by making the service more reliable and predictable.
Boarding the 30s Line at Friendship Heights
The distance between stops is of key concern to Metro and its customers. More closely spaced stops provide customers with more convenient access, as they are likely to experience a shorter walk to the nearest bus stop. However, closely-spaced stops are also likely to result in a longer ride for customers because of the number of times the bus stops — to decelerate, come to a complete stop and then accelerate and re-merge into traffic — is increased. This can lead to degraded service quality for bus passengers and increased maintenance, and operating costs for Metro.
Having fewer stops along a bus route can benefit passengers not only by reducing the time it takes for them to make their trip, but also by making the service more reliable and predictable. When stops are analyzed, several factors will cause them to be taken out of consideration for removal. These reasons include stops in front of a school, house of worship, community center, senior housing, park, transfer point, or other popular amenities. These bus stops will not be removed irrespective of usage.
Metro is conducting rider surveys in support of a new study examining late night bus service, generally defined as operating between 11pm and 4am, with a focus on Metrobus service generally inside the Beltway and during the time period after Metrorail closes (after midnight during the week and 3am on weekends). The study will examine the performance of existing late night Metrobus service, connections among bus routes and between late-night activity centers (see map below), and the potential for 24-hour bus service, and for branding late-night bus service. The study will also make recommendations for near-term service improvements. Riders of many of the most heavily used Metrobus routes may have noticed surveyors at major bus stops as in-person surveys were conducted from approximately 11pm to 4am over the past week. Read more…
Metro bus planning proposes 22 bus stops for removal along the 96/97 routes.
East Capitol Street, looking east-southeast just west of Capitol Heights Station, where two east-bound and one west-bound bus stop are proposed for removal.
In September, WMATA selected 27 stops for consideration to discontinue on the 96/97 route to provide faster service. All 27 stops are within a block or two of another stop. The list was posted on this blog, and wmata.com. Notices were posted at the affected stops, and WMATA met with representatives of council members’ offices whose districts are served by the two routes, and corresponding ANCs in September 2013. There was a month-long period where members of the public commented on the list via phone, email, and blog post.
Following the public feedback, five bus stops that had been under consideration will remain in service:
- East Capitol Street & 15th Street NE/SE, eastbound and westbound, due to the proximity to the Center City Charter School Capitol Hill
- Woodley Road & 35th Street NW, eastbound and westbound, due to their proximity to The Beauvoir, The National Cathedral Elementary School, and
- East Capitol Street & 52nd Street SE, eastbound, due to its location in front of the Episcopal Church of the Atonement.
In total, 22 bus stops will be discontinued, 12% of the total stops on the 96/97 route. Maps showing the bus stops to be removed at the December 29, 2013 service change are shown below. Two weeks prior to the service change, notices will be posted at the affected stops informing customers of the change. The notice will also include information on next closest bus stops.
The bus stops that will be discontinued are: Read more…
If someone gave you money to fix up Metrobus stops in our region, what would you spend it on? Metro is trying new ways to get customers involved in answering that very question.
Love Your Bus Stop campaign logo
Metro recently launched the ‘Love Your Bus Stop’ Campaign, and is encouraging customers to express their preferences and desires on how bus stops can be improved through a Bus Stop Improvement Survey. The results of the survey, which asks existing and potential riders to rank a variety of bus stop amenities, will help Metro better understand the public’s preferences for bus stop features and allow them to prioritize future investments in bus stop improvements. The Federal Transit Administration’s Livable Communities Initiative awarded Metro nearly $2 million for this project shortly after Metro completed an extensive inventory of the system’s bus stops. This funding source will be the first to be deployed using this new dataset of public preferences, and future funding will be able to draw upon the data as well to create improvements that the public wants to see most.
The Bus Stop Improvement Survey and associated outreach campaign are designed to be accessible to all Metrobus riders with a particular focus on reaching minority, low-income, and Limited English Proficiency populations. The Love Your Bus Stop Campaign is designed to reach these communities through three distinct strategies:
- Event-based outreach;
- Print, radio and digital media strategy; and
- Targeted outreach to community-based organizations.
The distance between stops is of key concern to Metro and its customers. More closely spaced stops provide customers with more convenient access, as they are likely to experience a shorter walk to the nearest bus stop. However, closely-spaced stops are also likely to result in a longer ride for customers because of the number of times the bus stops — to decelerate, come to a complete stop and then accelerate and re-merge into traffic — is increased.
Having fewer stops along a bus route benefits passengers not only by reducing the time it takes for them to make their trip, but by making the service more reliable and predictable. Customer benefit is maximized when the only stops considered for removal have low average weekday ridership for boarding and alighting. We have chosen the 96/97 line, known as the East Capitol Street-Cardozo line, which runs between Capitol Heights Station, Stadium-Armory Station, Union Station, U Street Station, Woodley Park Station, and Tenleytown Station. Some of the bus stops in the Woodley Park area are also served by the X3 route.
Metrobus in cooperation with Arlington County and Fairfax County recently completed a seven month long Service Evaluation Study (SES) for the Pershing Drive – Arlington Boulevard Line (Route 4A,B,E,H). The line serves Rosslyn, Arlington Boulevard and Pershing Drive, terminating at Seven Corners and Culmore.
The goals of the Service Evaluation Study are to:
1) Review the capacity, productivity, reliability, and quality of the service;
2) Identify the needs for facilities along the line and
3) Recommend changes to improve service delivery.
The study team reviewed existing operational and traffic conditions along the line, and then conducted a riders survey and a public outreach effort, using one focus group and two public meetings, to gain input from riders. After assessing all the available data and rider inputs, service recommendations were proposed for:
- Service Hours
- New Limited Stop Service
- Route Simplicity
- Bus Stop Distance and Amenities
- Traffic Operations