Fixing Core Stations in Metro 2025 Helps Riders from All Jurisdictions

June 12th, 2014 3 comments

Though many of the stations that Metro 2025 seeks to improve are in the District of Columbia, the capacity expansion would help riders from all jurisdictions.  

Metro needs to improve the capacity at over a dozen stations:  some of these stations are at capacity today, and our 100% eight-car train program will bring even more customers to already crowded stations.  We know we need to build new escalators, expand mezzanines, and build pedestrian passageways to meet this future demand.

The fact is that Metro 2025 is designed to benefit the Washington metropolitan area, residents of the District, Maryland and Virginia, as well as visitors from around the country and the world.

If you’re a commuter in Maryland or Virginia, it may look like the benefit of these improvements are focused on D.C. residents.   After all, 10 out of the 15 stations are located in the District of Columbia.  But the diagram below shows most of the riders who use these stations – those who create the need today, and who would benefit from fixing it – live in Maryland or Virginia.  In fact, 77% of the users of the Metro 2025 stations live in the suburbs.

 Three-quarters of riders benefiting from the station improvements in Metro 2025 live in Maryland and Virginia

Fixing core stations in Metro 2025 helps riders from all jurisdictions

Help us make the Metro 2025 projects in Momentum a reality! Learn more about Momentum, call on your elected representatives, and endorse the plan.

What’s a Transit “Walk Shed”?

June 10th, 2014 6 comments

Metro will soon be measuring how much growth happens in places that are walkable to transit. Here’s an in-depth look at how we define “walkable” to Metrorail stations and Metrobus stops.

Quarter-mile walk (by the network) for regional Metrobus stops and Metrorail stations

Areas reachable on foot from regional Metrobus stops and Metrorail stations

Metro’s new Connecting Communities metric will measure annual household growth in our region that occurs within the “transit shed” – the catchment area around transit service that generates walk ridership. And improving walkability can be an incredibly cost-effective way to reduce congestion and increase transit ridership.  Let’s take a closer look at how we defined what’s “walkable to transit.”

How Far is Walkable? First, we defined walking distance as a half-mile from Metrorail, and a quarter-mile from Metrobus, for a number of reasons:

  1. Of all the passengers who walk to Metrorail each morning, the median walking distance is just under a half-mile (0.35 miles, actually).  Riders walk farther to some stations than others, but the systemwide average is just shy of a half-mile.  Since rail riders are on average willing to walk a little under a half-mile today, it is reasonable to use a half-mile as an upper limit for walking in the future. (We don’t have similar survey data on Metrobus - yet.)
  2. The land use within a quarter- and half-mile is where we see the strongest effects on ridership on Metro today. More on this below.
  3. Academic literature supports the half-mile radius from rail transit as no better than any other distance, particularly for the link between households and ridership.
  4. Practically, setting the distance any farther than 0.50 and 0.25 miles increases overlap with other nearby stations and bus stops, which increases computational complexity. Read more…

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: Engage > Transit Travelogue Tags: , , ,

Less Stop, More Go: The 23 Line

June 2nd, 2014 4 comments
Customers boarding the 23A at Ballston

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.

Read more…

Less Stop, More Go: The 30s Line

June 2nd, 2014 13 comments
Boarding the 30s Line at Friendship Heights

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.

Read more…

Energy Efficient Station Chiller Upgrades

May 15th, 2014 2 comments
Chiller Plant at Navy Yard-Ballpark

Chiller Plant at Navy Yard-Ballpark

Each year as warmer weather approaches, Metro shifts priority from snow and ice removal to the cooling of Metrorail stations. In May, chiller plants throughout the Authority are started up, feeding chilled water to air conditioning equipment located in the stations. Though the design of the Metrorail system makes true air conditioning impossible, a reduction of station air temperatures is intended to provide some comfort while waiting for your train.

Some stations share chillers, such as Court House and Clarendon on the Orange Line, while other larger stations have two chillers, such as L’Enfant Plaza. Typical system sizes are around 350 tons. This is not a measure of the systems weight; instead chiller performance is defined in terms of tons of cooling, where one ton of cooling is equal to the amount of heat absorbed by one ton of ice melting in one day.

As part of Metro’s sustainability efforts, upgrades to chiller plant equipment consists of replacing old systems that have reached or exceeded their anticipated life with more modern, energy-efficient units. The new chillers feature oil-free operation, variable-speed magnetic-bearing compressors, and variable-frequency drives.

Two such chiller plant replacements were installed last year serving U Street and Navy Yard-Ballpark stations. With their smaller footprint, lower vibration, and operating sound levels, the units are proving not only more cost efficient but are also providing an overall improvement to operations. The result of the modernization is savings estimated at $15,000 annually per plant in energy costs alone. Additionally, when coupled with related upgrades to electronic controls and water treatment systems being piloted, the savings are expected to be increased in terms of reductions in both operating cost and water consumption. In 2014, chiller upgrades are proposed for Forest Glen, Wheaton, Crystal City, and Potomac Ave stations.

To reduce operating costs and improve efficiency, Metro’s facilities and fleet are actively striving to become more energy efficient. As part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative, the Authority has set a target of a 15% reduction in authority-wide energy use per vehicle mile by 2025.

This post forms part of a series featuring content from Metro’s Sustainability Agenda, part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.

How Do Different Modes Compare?

May 14th, 2014 6 comments

The region either already has or is planning for a variety of different modes. How do they compare? The Silver Line will soon open as a Metrorail line. Later this year, a streetcar will be operating on H Street, NE with others planned for Columbia Pike in Arlington and the District. Arlington and Alexandria are jointly building a bus rapid transit (BRT) line between Crystal City and Potomac Yard. Once funding is finalized, Maryland will build the Purple Line and light rail transit (LRT) will connect New Carrollton and Bethesda. This is all in addition to the region’s existing commuter rail, commuter bus, Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroExtra services. The region is not only expanding transit services, but it also expanding the types of transit modes that will operate. At long last, instead of talking about Portland (streetcar), Jersey City (light rail), or Cleveland (bus rapid transit), we’ll be able to point directly to services and infrastructure in our backyard or take a trip and experience the pros and cons of these modes for ourselves.

So how do the different modes compare? What kind of purposes does each serve? There are many external factors and trade-offs that influence how agencies and jurisdictions select which mode to implement.  As we see from the ongoing debates in jurisdictions across the region between LRT and BRT or streetcar and enhanced bus, there is not always one perfect choice. However, an array of transit and land use measures can provide context to the conversation. As part of ConnectGreaterWashington: The 2040 Regional Transit System Plan, we developed the below table to compare commuter rail, commuter bus, heavy rail, light rail, streetcar, bus rapid transit, and enhanced bus across land use intensity (households and employment), vehicle capacity, stop spacing, trip length, and capital and operating costs.

What do you think? Does this information better inform the rail vs bus debate? What other information would provide more clarity on what modes work where?

Comparison of High-Capacity Transit Modes

Comparison of High-Capacity Transit Modes

 

Bike to Work Day 5/16: Three Pitstops at Metrorail Stations

May 13th, 2014 No comments

BTWD_2014_metroBike to Work Day is Friday, May 16th, and this year Metro is hosting three pitstops at Metrorail stations.  Bike to Metro and Metro to Work! Register now.

If biking all the way to work sounds a bit daunting this year, Bike to Metro and Metro to Work! Leave your bike at a Metrorail station or a bus stop.

Metro is hosting three pitstops at Metrorail stations, where we’ll be distributing t-shirts, maps, information about parking your bike, bikes on bus, locker rentals, and of course – free goodies.   In addition, Metro Transit Police will be at all three pitstops distributing free U-locks to cyclists who register their bikes.  We’ll even have a “bike rack demonstration” bus so you can try using the bike rack on buses.

Register now at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org, and enter your pitstop as one of the stations above!

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

Track Infrastucture – Sustainable Stats for State of Good Repair

May 8th, 2014 No comments
Rail Fabrication Process at ArcelorMittal, Steelton

Rail Fabrication Process at ArcelorMittal, Steelton – Image Courtesy of ArcelorMittal

On a daily basis the Metrorail track infrastructure system is subject to the stress and strain of operational and climatic variations. Combining a proactive maintenance program with the latest in rail materials and technology, Metro upholds a commitment to the highest levels of system-wide safety, passenger comfort, operational sustainability, and reliability. System maintenance under the Federal Transit Administration State of Good Repair program has allowed Metro to maintain its commitment to an aggressive “fix it first” policy that features:

“New” Rail is 100% recycled steel – For all replacement rails Metro uses a premium head-hardened rail made from 100% recycled steel. These rails are the highest possible quality available and have the longest possible service life. The rail is fabricated using a controlled water jet system that evenly dissipates heat during the fabrication process to create deep, head-hardened layers through each rail.

Continuously Welded Rail increases system efficiency– Using a state-of-the-art flash-butt welding system Metro has a system-wide program of rail joint elimination to improve ride quality and cut service disruptions. Flash-butt welding applies a strong electrical current to the touching ends of two sections of rail. The ends become white hot due to electrical resistance and can then be fused together to form a single rail. The new continuously welded rail is strong, gives a smoother passenger ride, and allows trains to travel with less friction – thereby increasing system efficiency.

Through Metro’s comprehensive rail-infrastructure maintenance program, upgrades are put in place for the future of the system and transit in the region.

This post forms part of a series featuring content from Metro’s Sustainability Agenda, part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.

Connect Communities for Environmental Benefits

May 7th, 2014 No comments
Connecting Communities Concept

Connecting Communities Concept.  Click image for a larger version.

As the Washington metropolitan area continues to grow, the shape of that growth will define the character and sustainability of our region for decades to come.  Attracting a significant proportion of the area’s new households and jobs to locations near rail stations and bus stops will  provides a host of significant environmental and social benefits that can positively effect quality of life in the region. Quality of life can be improved by convenient access to services via walking, biking, and transit, which reduces road congestion and enables significantly less time to be wasted traveling between destinations via automobile. Compact development also serves to help preserve regional environmental resources such as open space, clean air, and healthy waterways.

  • Open Space -  By encouraging vertical development on existing underutilized brownfield and greyfield sites, greenfield sites on the urban periphery can be preserved. As and added benefit, this also means that no additional costs are incurred for new road and utility infrastructure to make these new sites viable.
  • Clean Air – Reduced mobile emissions from vehicle travel improves local and regional air quality. Just as having cleaner air is important for human health and comfort, it is also important for the world around us. Cleaner air means fewer pollutants in our environment and that means plants, animals, water and soil are healthier too.
  • Healthy Waterways – Compact development leaves more land open for stormwater detention and retention on undeveloped land at the urban periphery, thereby reducing the erosive impacts of stormwater runoff on rivers and streams.

One example of how Metro has worked with partners to attract regional infill growth is the NoMa-Gallaudet U station, the first infill station constructed on the Metrorail system. Utilizing what would have been excess capacity on the Red Line, the NoMa neighborhood, anchored by the station, has emerged as a high-density mixed-use hub for residents and commuters alike.  Three years before the station opened, the assessed value of real estate in the 35 surrounding blocks was $535 million. Ridership has grown steadily since the station opened in 2004.  Three years after the opening (in 2007) it was $2.3 billion — a 330-percent increase. From 2,100 trips in 2005 the station now has an average of 7,400 trips each weekday. Currently, based on the development pipeline data from NoMa BID the neighborhood is approximately 50% built out, with 16 million square feet of commercial and residential space. That is the equivalent of 50 high-density buildings in the 350 acre around the station. In contrast, to accommodate this scale of development in a low-density suburban setting would require in excess of 900 acres and would require new parking and roadway infrastructure due to the absence of transit.

A new Connecting Communities Key Performance Indicator (KPI) (PDF) is being developed to measure regional household growth in areas that are adjacent to Metro. This KPI will be reported through Metro’s Vital Signs Report in 2014.

This post forms part of a series featuring content from Metro’s Sustainability Agenda, part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.