Preparing for Winter: Metrobus Snow Operations Plan now available

January 11th, 2016 No comments

Prepare yourselves for the winter season by checking out the Metrobus Snow Service Plan on the Metrobus Snow Service webpage.

MetroExtra 79 to Silver Spring

MetroExtra 79 to Silver Spring. Photo by WMATA staff.

Every year, Metrobus planners review the Snow Operations Plan for the coming winter. Snow service is a large joint effort between planning and operations. The communication between departments begins early as we make adjustments for route changes from the previous year and reflect back on what we can improve for the upcoming season.

Metrobus operates 3 levels of service during snow events:

Light snow conditions typically have less than 2” of snow without packing or ice. Most routes are expected to operate, possibly under the Light Snow Detour routing.

Moderate snow conditions mean service is suspended on many routes and any route with a snow detour route will be operating under the snow detour.

Severe snow conditions include heavy snowfall with packed snow and/or ice. Bus service will be suspended on all but the busiest routes and any route with a snow detour route will be operating under the snow detour.

In the event of a total service shutdown, no bus service will operate until conditions improve. Customers will receive as much notice as possible before service is suspended.

Example Snow Detour Map. Under Light, Moderate, and Severe Snow Levels, the T18 will not serve Bladensburg High School and will stay on Annapolis Rd.

Example Snow Detour Map. Under Light, Moderate, and Severe service levels, the T18 runs on Annapolis Rd. and does not serve Bladensburg High School.

Bus operations and communications staff will make their best effort to give notice before changing service. The best way to get information is to sign up for MetroAlerts and to check www.wmata.com and the local media for alerts.

Look up your routes on the Metrobus Snow Service webpages to see if your routes operate in Light, Moderate, and Severe service levels and whether your routes have snow detours. Then, when Metrobus announces a snow service level, you’ll be ready.

Route 42 to Metro Center last March. Photo by Ginger.

Route 42 to Metro Center last March. Photo by Ginger.

Categories: Metro 101 Tags: , , ,

Metro Confidential – Expert Tips to Hack Your Trip

January 7th, 2016 2 comments

In 2016, resolve to travel like a transit pro with these five Metro master tips and tricks.

Even the most seasoned Washingtonian learns a thing or two each day about a tip, tweak, hack, or just plain common sense adjustment to their transit trip that makes their journey quicker, hassle-free, and more fun!  Here are some of our favorites that we hope you’ll try in 2016 – happy transiting!

We've all been there. These tips will help you master train crowding and more. Image: WMATA

We’ve all been there. These tips will help you master train crowding and more. Image: WMATA

  1. Set up Auto Reload – You’ve got more important things to do than fuddle with a 1970s era fare machine or to get stuck at the end of your trip without enough stored value to exit the system.  Set it and forget it to skip this step forever!  Auto Reload allows you to set up stored value and pass products so they can be automatically reloaded to your SmarTrip® or CharmCard® when your stored value runs low or your pass is about to expire.
  2. When it comes to train cars, there’s usually more room up front or in back.  WMATA runs trains in two different “consists” – those with eight cars, and those with six.  For whatever reason, customers tend to gather on the platforms near the middle cars and pack them way too tightly.  Meanwhile, even when the middle cars are overloaded, there is often room in the first or last car in the train (Cars 1 and 6/8).  We don’t know exactly why human behavior fosters “bunching” (we do know that lack of traffic priority fosters bus bunching) but now that you know, try the first or last cars when you want to spread out and/or have a seat.
  3. You’ve heard of Next Bus – try Next Station.  What’s that?  A new app?  New service?  Nope – it’s a handy tip for making your journey simpler.  The next time you’re approaching your destination, try peeking up from your phone and get into the aisle (not vestibule, and please don’t block priority seating if our most sensitive customers are standing!) one stop ahead.  That way you are pre-positioned to exit the train without pushing/shoving through on boarding passengers (or getting elbowed yourself as you slow everyone else down!)
  4. Plan an exit strategy.  I’m a Red Line rider and my office at WMATA is convenient to Judiciary Square.  I try and make sure to board the train at Car 3, door 1.  That way I’m exactly where the escalator meets the platform when I disembark.  Try figuring out your exit strategy next time you travel, or use the Metro Master website.  Which car and door makes the most sense for your journey?  How does that work with/against the tips above?
  5. There’s an App for that.  WMATA works with the developer community to help them help you.  Choose from the multitude of apps out there that help you plan the perfect transit trip.  Is your line running smoothly or gummed up?  Hop on a bus or take the train?  Blue for you or Hello Yellow? Eliminate the guesswork and join the transit technology revolution – you’ll be surprised how much easier your trip is when you app before you tap.

What other tips help you ride Metro like a regular?

 

Sneak Peak of Metro Activities at the 95th TRB Annual Meeting

January 7th, 2016 No comments

The 95th Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual meeting is coming to town!  This annual meeting will host 12,000 transportation professionals from around the world and more than 5,000 presentations covering all transportation modes, including public transportation. At the 2016 annual meeting, Metro staff will be sharing Metro’s experience and best practices on a number of transit development and planning initiatives.

Jordan from the Office of Performance will introduce the development of a new performance measure of travel time reliability (Event 823: Where is My Ride?).  This new measure can be used by customers to better plan their trips and by Metro to optimize rail operations. Read more…

WMATA – The Fundamentals

January 6th, 2016 No comments

We explore questions about WMATA’s creation and how decisions are made in our “Metro 101” series.

Metrorail groundbreaking at Judiciary Square (December 9, 1969)

Why was WMATA created?

WMATA was founded in 1967 to serve 3 primary functions:

  1. To plan, develop, finance and “cause to be operated” improved transit facilities as part of a balanced regional transportation system;
  2. To coordinate the operation of the public and privately owned or controlled transit facilities into a unified regional transit system;
  3. To serve “other regional purposes” as needed.

Read more…

Monitoring Passengers Loads on Metrorail – Using New Tools to Examine the Data

January 5th, 2016 7 comments

The new version of the Line Load Application now models passengers into trains by cars. Let’s take a look at this new feature!

Remember in May when we said an updated version of the Line Load Application was coming that would include passenger distribution data at max load locations? Well it’s here now!

If you’ve seen Metro employees with clipboards out during rush hour at major stations, then chances are you’ve seen the Metro load checkers. These individuals mark down the loads of these trains. They also mark down any people who didn’t board. Last but not least, they are also doing this by car, and with that information Metro has been keeping track of the spread of the loads on the cars at the max load stations.

carloads

Average Car Loads in the AM Peak Hour – October 2014 Weekdays – Modeled Distribution of Passengers at Dupont Circle **The estimated railcar crowding is based on the scheduled Red Line service.

Read more…

Squaring Circles: De-Mystifying Metro’s Budget and Funding Sources (Part One of Three)

January 4th, 2016 No comments

One of the most critical issues facing public transportation is how to pay for it. In a short series of blog posts, we’ll try to explain Metro’s finances and give you tools to engage in budget discussions. 

No matter where you stand on the question of supporting or using public transportation, one of the loudest and most constant debates is how to pay for it. It’s a complicated question that combines values, politics, resources, and legal obligations. It also revolves around the technicalities of multiple funding sources (fares, grants, taxes) and how those sources can be spent (allowable types of projects, legal requirements, matching funds, etc.). Most people probably know Metro operates under a yearly budget. However, that annual budget and Metro’s ability to raise and spend funds is shaped by a larger policy and planning framework. This initial post focuses on three pillars of that policy framework: the WMATA Compact, the Capital Funding Agreement (CFA), and the six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP). It also summarizes the annual budget planning process.

Funding policy context

WMATA’s funding policy framework

Read more…

When Work Evolves – Metrorail in the Era of the Flexible Workplace

December 21st, 2015 10 comments

Between 2007 and 2012, off-peak work trips were the fastest-growing segment of Metrorail ridership.

The traditional “rush hour” remains important, but Metrorail ridership seems to reflect a broader trend regionally – people are making more and more trips during “off peak” hours. According to the 2012 Metrorail survey, rail ridership growth was stronger in its off-peak (8 percent since 2007) than the peak (5 percent over the same time period). In certain jurisdictions – including those that have fostered re-investment in dense, walkable areas – off peak growth was into the double digits while peak growth grew more modestly. In one jurisdiction, off-peak trips grew by 50% during this period while peak trips grew at less than half that clip. 

Compact Jurisdictions Peak Off-Peak
% Change % Change
District of Columbia 8.3% 12.9%
Arlington County 18.4% 9.0%
City of Alexandria 9.5% 12.7%
Montgomery County 0.1% 5.9%
Prince George’s County -7.4% -1.4%
Fairfax County -1.4% 3.0%
City of Falls Church 21.3% 46.9%
Fairfax City 32.8% 19.4%
Compact Total 3.0% 8.0%

Data sources, Metrorail ridership surveys, 2007 and 2012.  2012 is the most recent dataset we have on trip purpose. 

In the past these trips would be for theaters, late night entertainment, or shift work, but the bulk of these off-peak trips were during the midday – almost twice the number of late night trips – and the bulk of these trips were for work. Read more…

Help Envision New Transit Options for Route 7

December 17th, 2015 2 comments

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission is looking for ideas for Route 7.

rt 7 28XThe Leesburg Pike (Route 7) corridor in Northern Virginia is second only to Columbia Pike in its daily volumes of bus riders.  This busy, mixed use corridor connects  Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, and the City of Falls Church.  The corridor connects many vital regional activity centers including Old Town Alexandria, Seven Corners, downtown Falls Church (Broad Street) and Tysons Corner.

In 2009, in recognition of the importance of this corridor, Metro completed an evaluation of the 28A and 28B lines, and concluded that there was a demand for a robust, limited stop service on Leesburg Pike.   The study acknowledged that by 2040, population in the corridor is anticipated to increase by 36% and the number of jobs is anticipated to increase by 34% .  These changes will mean that without more high quality transit, vehicle congestion will only increase.   The study also identified heavy congestion as a major impediment to consistent, on-time performance and recommended traffic signal improvements and queue jumps at targeted intersections.  As a result of the study, frequencies were increased on 28A and a limited stop service (28X) was introduced to serve the heaviest traveled portions of the route. Read more…

Categories: Engage Tags:

Partnering to Go the Extra Mile (and every mile in between!)

December 16th, 2015 1 comment
Stylized Metrorail Map, Courtesy of Lyft

WMATA is excited to be part of “Friends with Transit”, Lyft‘s initiative to provide first and last mile connections to transit systems across the nation, and a coupon code.

Metro covers a lot of ground – 1,500 square miles or so!  But not everyone is within convenient walking or biking distance to transit, and that makes us less convenient than we would like to be for our customers!  We’ve profiled here how we would like to close that first-mile/last-mile gap for our customers through enhanced pedestrian and bicycle connections, and now we have yet another option to get you where you need to go. Read more…

Paratransit and the Coming Age Wave

December 15th, 2015 2 comments

Christian T. Kent, the Assistant General Manager for Access Services, offers his thoughts on accessibility and Metro’s future.

ChristianKentMr. Kent provides oversight for the accessibility of Metrobus and Metrorail and is directly responsible for the operation of MetroAccess paratransit service. Metro operates the largest fully accessible transit system and the fifth largest paratransit system in North America. 

Accessibility is very important at Metro. Because Metro is accessible, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities in our region can depend on Metro to get where they are going. Our low-floor talking buses and rail stations with elevators mean that someone who is blind or uses a wheelchair can use Metrobus or Metrorail. Metro can be the family car for someone who can’t drive. And for those who can’t use bus or rail, there is our paratransit service, MetroAccess. Our 675 lift-equipped MetroAccess vans deliver over 2 million rides every year to 40,000 customers. So Metro really is very important to people with disabilities, and Metro will be even more important to them in the future. Why is that?

America is getting older. More and more people are turning 65 each year, and seniors have a much higher rate of disability and drive less often than younger people. The average MetroAccess rider is 62 years old. In the District, the average age is 67. This “age wave” means more Metro customers with disabilities in the coming years. We need to make sure that the accessibility features in our bus and rail service work consistently well so that customers with disabilities choose and use bus and rail. Providing the most accessible bus and rail service means less reliance on MetroAccess. This is important to Metro because a trip on paratransit is much more expensive than one on bus or rail, and it is important to customers who want to take advantage of the most independent means of travel available. Read more…