Help Metro Get Smarter: Now Hiring Business Intelligence Analyst

August 4th, 2016 1 comment

If you are great with data and love cities and transit, we have a job for you.

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We were excited to announce that a job listing for a Business Intelligence Analyst position within Planning’s Applied Planning Intelligence unit has just been posted.  We are looking for a healthy overlap between a data scientist and a transit nerd.  For the full job description, head over to the wmata.com/careers site, scroll down and click on View all jobs.  A short description is posted below.

Currently a team of two, we work to convert Metro’s many data sources into information that can be used to inform plans, policies and procedures.  Many of our projects have been featured here on PlanItMetro, including:

Read more…

Metro Developer Coffee Chats a Success! Thank You Developers!

July 29th, 2016 No comments

Metro’s commitment to developers was well received following our informal “Coffee Chat” event designed to foster connections between and among Metro and the developer community.

Wednesday, Metro set aside some time for Developer Coffee Chats to enable dialogue between Metro’s API users and other developers. The informal event proved successful, with numerous developers taking advantage of the resources available to them (provided both by Metro and by their developer peers). Although several topics were discussed, the clear focal point was Metro’s Real-Time Train Position API, released last week through the General Manager’s CARe Initiative.

Metro Developer Coffee Chat Photo

Metro staff members engaged in various dialogues with third-party developers

At the event, several developers spoke with Metro’s API team to seek guidance regarding the technical backend of their apps and others simply showed Metro their work for feedback and suggestions for implementing new features. One attendee commented on the quality of Metro’s API documentation, crediting the documentation with enabling him to move from building local-apps and scripts to building a full-fledged Metro app using the APIs. Read more…

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We Heard You! MyTripTime Provides Personalized Information On Your Metrorail Trips

July 28th, 2016 6 comments

Starting Wednesday, July 27th, Metrorail customers can see their own, personal on-time score for trips that they’ve taken over the past 90 days by logging into the SmarTrip website.

Metro has a long history of reporting system-wide performance via our quarterly Vital Signs reports. However, our customers often say that this information doesn’t resonate with their own experience because it averages things out across all operating hours and all stations.

Customers: we heard you! MyTripTime reports your own, personal on-time score based on every trip that you’ve taken over the past 90 days.

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Screenshot of MyTripTime, from smartrip.wmata.com

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Categories: Engage Tags: ,

Are You a Metro Data User? Let’s Talk!

July 25th, 2016 No comments

Metro is committed to working with the developer community –  we’ve launched a real-time train position API, are hosting developer coffee chats this Wednesday (7/27) from 4pm to 6pm, created a developer google group, and are seeking submissions for an App Gallery!

If you frequently monitor Metro news, you’ll have already seen some of Metro’s latest developments regarding the commitment to open data and third-party developers. Most notably, Metro last week released a real-time train position API, making it possible to identify the specific locations of trains in the system at a given time.

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Screen capture of Metro’s internal real-time train positions map. Now, third-party developers can make their own versions of this using a recently released data feed.

We can’t wait to see what you do with the data. But we know you’ll have questions. That’s why we’re hosting an informal “Coffee Chat” this Wednesday, July 27, at Compass Coffee on F Street (near the Gallery Place-Chinatown station and 70/74/D6 buses). Stop by any time from 4pm to 6pm to say hello, show us something on your computer, or ask us questions!

Two other notable updates, Metro now has created a google group to serve as the intra-developer community forum and will be launching an “App Gallery” to showcase apps available for the Metro system.

Walk This Way – Metro’s Planning Office at APTA’s Rail Conference

July 11th, 2016 No comments

Metro shared its Station Area Investment Plan with the APTA Rail Conference attendees – and met with rave reviews.

I recently had the opportunity to present our Station Area Strategic Investment Plan to the over 1,500 attendees at APTA’s Rail Conference.  Many thanks to APTA’s Sustainability and Urban Design Standards program for footing the bill for this trip to Phoenix. It was 117 degrees there, and tested even my desire for walkable urbanism, but that’s another story entirely.

The presentation highlighted the Office of Planning’s work to quantify the return on investment of station area accessibility improvements, work with local jurisdictions, to prioritize these improvements based on an analytical platform, and identify the appropriate funding mechanisms to get these improvements built.

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TOD in Prince George’s County Getting off the Ground

July 7th, 2016 1 comment

Prince George’s County’s bold new vision for transit-oriented development deserves attention and support!

For more than a decade, regional planners and economic development officials have lamented the relative lack of development around Prince George’s County Metrorail stations, and yours truly had opportunities to challenge its leadership to up its game in accelerating transit-oriented development policy and practice more than a few times.  On this blog, we’ve highlighted how lack of development has hindered ridership growth from the County, and we’ve articulated the benefits that would accrue to the region if Prince George’s County were to achieve the development potential of its Metrorail stations – in fact, Metrorail might just run an operating surplus if those areas were developed.

Now we all have reason to cheer and hope that these challenges and aspirational goals might be more than just wish lists and a hope certificate.

TOD in Prince Georges County Mar 2016 Read more…

Would a Cordon Charge Help Stabilize Metro’s Finances? (Part 4)

July 5th, 2016 2 comments

Adding a London-style cordon charge (or fee) to enter much of the region’s central employment area would increase transit ridership across all modes and also reduce (or eliminate) the subsidy that local governments pay every year to support Metro, meaning lower tax bills for regional residents.*

(This post is part of a multi-part series about ConnectGreaterWashington (CGW) a study that WMATA completed in 2015 and its application of land use and pricing as a transportation strategy.)

Approach for Building Scenario B to make Transit More Cost-Effective

Scenario “B” looked at land use shifts and increasing the price of driving, and how those changes would impact Metro.

Metro asked, “What if the region’s future growth was used to fulfill the expectations of regional plans such as Region Forward and Place + Opportunity? What if transit-supportive policies were implemented across the region? Would WMATA benefit? Would the region?”

Answer: YES!!

*Note that Metro is not proposing that the region adopt a cordon charge, but it was tested as part of an analysis of how smarter land use and more transit-supportive policies could impact transit ridership, our operating subsidy, and other measures that support the region’s growth.

Read more…

SafeTrack’s Surge 2 Bus Shuttle Proves Bus Rapid Transit Can Work Here

June 28th, 2016 No comments

The shuttle buses at Eastern Market during Surge 2 are arriving every two minutes at rush hour, and are moving nearly the same number of people as 3 lanes of Pennsylvania Avenue SE.  This shows how much we can achieve by giving buses priority – lanes, signal priority, and more – on busy streets. 

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Commuters transferring from shuttle buses Eastern Market station (photo by author)

For the last week, Metrobus has been operating bus shuttles between Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road, to provide alternatives around SafeTrack Surge 2 while we rebuild tracks and infrastructure on that segment of Metrorail.  While still moving less than half the the riders as what Metrorail normally moves, the shuttles are moving an impressive number of people:

  • In the morning rush hours, buses are arriving at Eastern Market every 2 minutes on average
  • Shuttle buses are delivering 1,800 people per hour to Eastern Market between 8:00 and 9:00am.  This is about the same as the number of vehicles that 3 lanes of Pennsylvania Ave. SE typically moves (1,500-2,000 vehicles per hour per direction, according to TPB Regional Transportation Data Clearinghouse).
  • Around 16,000-17,000 people per day are riding the shuttles, or about two-thirds of the number of vehicles driven through the corridor in a day (25,000 average annual daily traffic)
  • Traffic Control Officers from DDOT are critical to this operation, ensuring that everyone moves safely and efficiently

Read more…

Growth Mode or Stuck in Neutral? Or Both?

June 27th, 2016 2 comments

Population and jobs are up, but regional travel is down – Why? The very nature of trip-making may be changing in this region.

Crystal City Sta -am Rush 060912-129For several years, we have been reporting internally and externally about declines in Metrorail ridership. Our most recent rail ridership numbers show continued patterns of ridership levels that are five to eight percent below its 2009 peak, and despite gains in March, the trend in April and May suggests that the ridership patterns that we are seeing now are more structural than cyclical.  The implication here is that Metrorail may be operating at a “new normal” level that is still poised for growth, but growing from a baseline that has been reset at a lower level.

Theories abound about why this is taking place – telework and rail reliability are among the most talked-about culprits – but it’s almost impossible to isolate one cause among many in a time period that also witnessed fare increases, gas prices drop to historically low levels, and wild variations in the Federal transit benefit.

Now we have new information that may present a compelling theory about the declines in Metrorail ridership – the region is making fewer and fewer tripsData recently released by our Transportation Planning Board depicts a startling story of this region’s travel patterns over the last decade or so.  This data tell us that despite economic factors that would normally portend increased trip-making – rising population, household, and employment growth – this region is actually seeing fewer trips overall, regardless of mode. Read more…

Shared Mobility – Complementing Public Transit in the Nation’s Capital

June 27th, 2016 6 comments

In the DC region, shared mobility (Uber, Lyft, etc.) are actually complementary to the transit network. Here’s why we see opportunities to consider even better system integration.

“Transportation Network Companies” – you know them as Uber, Lyft and a host of other brands – are now part of the urban transportation landscape. Some have suggested that the rise of their popularity contributes to ridership decline on Metrorail and still others have heralded their emergence as the end of transit as we know it.  Always focused on investigating trends and proliferating fact rather than folklore, we wanted to know the truth.  Should Metro be nervous?  Are customized trips like these going to put traditional bus and rail out of business?

Unlikely.

Research (PDF) published by the American Public Transit Association and Transportation Research Board – and which I had the pleasure of helping to oversee –  tells us that customers of ridesourcing tend to use the services when transit is less available as well as to get to destinations not easily served by traditional transit.  Furthermore, we learned that in the DC region especially, these TNCs tend to function as informal “Metrorail shuttles” – almost two thirds of Uber trips in the District begin or end at a Metrorail station, and slightly more than a third of Uber trips follow that pattern when we zoom out to the entire region.  Similar statistics prevail when examining the usage of car sharing companies such as Zipcar and Enterprise.  Finally, the data indicates that 57% of frequent users of ridesourcing companies as well as car- and bike-sharing customers identified bus and rail transit as their preferred transportation mode.  This tells us that these services have an important role in complementing the Metro rail system for many customers.Source: Lyft Read more…