Metrobus Ridership During the Rail Safety Shutdown

May 23rd, 2016 2 comments

When Metrorail closed on March 16th, tens of thousands of rail riders switched to bus, including almost 20,000 riders who took their first bus ride in over a month! Bus-to-bus transfers spiked 45%, and ridership surged in downtown and central areas but fell in the suburbs.

Ballston Bus

Special thanks to the Systems & Performance Analysis team in Bus Planning for their help developing this analysis.

When Metrorail closed on Wednesday, March 16, Metrobus braced for impact as over 700,000 displaced rail trips sought alternatives. But there was little time or capacity to significantly alter bus service. What happened to bus ridership?

Overall ridership as tallied by the farebox came in at just 5% over the monthly average, or about 20,000 additional trips. So the changes look fairly small given the volume of displaced rail trips.

But don’t be fooled by the bottom line.  Underneath that total, a seismic shift was taking place. Read more…

Biking near Buses: Watch Out for Blind Spots!

May 19th, 2016 4 comments

Bus operators are trained to look for cyclists, but they can’t see you if you’re in their blind spot. Come see a bus’s blind spots for yourself at Fort Totten!

Unless you’ve driven a bus (or large truck) yourself, it can be hard to get a feel for where the blind spots are in real life. This Bike to Work Day (May 20th), come see for yourself what bus operators can — and, more importantly, can’t — see on the road. Metro’s Fort Totten pit-stop will feature a live Metrobus demonstration with experienced Metrobus instructors. Hop in the driver’s seat (and who doesn’t want to experience that air cushioning!), check the mirrors, and you’ll know where it’s safe to ride. While you’re there, brush up on your skills securing your bike on the bus’ bike rack.

When buses and bikes share space on the road, visibility is the key to safety. Metrobus operators receive regular training on safety around bicyclists, but they need your help as well.

Remember these tips when riding near buses: Read more…

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

Bike to Work (or Metro) Day 2016

May 18th, 2016 No comments

Metro will host three Bike to Work Day pit-stops on May 20th; sign up now!

Friday May 20th is Bike to Work Day 2016, and Metro is gearing up to be part of the fun (Yes, biking to Metro counts!). While it may be appropriate that National Bike Month has opened with rainy Dutch weather, we’re optimistic that the sun will break through in time.

Sign up now and plan to stop by one of the 83 pit-stops across the region. Each pit-stop will be chock-full of food, drinks, giveaways, city cycling safety tips and more. We may be biased, but we think the best pit-stops are at Fort Totten, East Falls Church, and College Park stations.

Hope to see you there!

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

Designing the SelectPass Test Phase

May 4th, 2016 9 comments

The new Metro SelectPass is structured to to maximize pilot participation while minimizing the risks.  Making that happen involves overcommitting to truth in advertising – and we’re fine with that!

The two most likely fare levels for the SelectPass are $2.25 and $3.75.

The two fare levels most likely to be popular for the SelectPass are $2.25 and $3.75.

We are excited about the launch of the new SelectPass pilot.  As we have begun to roll out this new pass product, we are listening to your questions (via twitter, comments posted to articles, etc.) and we hope to address as many of them through the proper venues.  PlanItMetro seems to be the best forum to answer the persistent question, “Is this really only for two fare levels, and why don’t you tell everyone that they can probably save money?”

Testing the capacity of the Fare System

When we roll out new features, we want to eliminate as many risks as possible before committing to them.  In this case, the primary risk Metro faces is that our aging fare technology might not be able to accommodate a very different fare product such as SelectPass.  So we developed a program to test the pass at two individual “levels” as a proof of concept and not push any limits of our fare collection technology. Read more…

Categories: Engage Tags: , , , , ,

16th Street Plan Offers Big Benefits, Great Value

April 25th, 2016 No comments

DDOT’s 16th Street transit plan will benefit Metrobus riders, drivers and taxpayers alike and could “break even” in just a year and a half.

We know the problems with buses on 16th Street NW: overcrowding, slow speeds, lengthy boarding times, and bunched buses. While both the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Metro have made several small but important improvements in the past two years to improve traffic flow and increase bus capacity on 16th Street, both agencies realize that more needs to be done. Now, after a year of detailed study in partnership with Metro, DDOT has developed a set of recommendations (PDF) that will save time and improve the customer experience in the coming years. As an added bonus, it comes with a relatively cheap price tag, yielding great value for taxpayers.

16th Street Crowding

Riders aboard a crowded S-Line bus (click for study information)

Read more…

Metro is Rebuilding More Sustainably

April 22nd, 2016 No comments

As Earth Day approaches, we’ve documented the strong foundation of sustainable practices at Metro in our newly updated Sustainability Report.

Metro has launched a rebuilding and service campaign that is aimed to bring riders back to Metro by providing safe effective and reliable service. Because service is one of the biggest sustainability benefits transit provides, rebuilding its ridership will help the authority reach the regional ridership, climate change and connected communities goals as outlined in Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.

Metro’s annual sustainability report provides a rare view into Metro’s efforts to achieve the sustainability goals it set for itself – reporting on successes and setbacks alike. The past and future projects list under each target reads like an encyclopedia of transit agency best practices from testing energy efficient switch heaters to designing pedestrian accessible stations.

Rebuilding sustainably where possible will help Metro achieve long term financial savings while creating a cleaner, more modern, safer, and more reliable system. These investments will help Metro on it’s trajectory to reach its ambitious but achievable sustainability targets. To read more about Metro’s achievements to date and upcoming projects, check out Metro’s 2016 Annual Sustainability Report.

Tell us what you think of Metro’s sustainability efforts. We are always listening to new ideas for potential projects. Submit your ideas online or email them to planning@wmata.com.

 

Reserving Bus-Only Lanes for Buses Only

April 20th, 2016 5 comments

Metro kicks off an evaluation of bus-only lane enforcement strategies.

BusLawDiagram

Montgomery County uses bus cameras to enforce safe driving rules around school buses.

As the state and local departments of transportation begin to consider bus priority treatments (PDF) in earnest, their success will be dependent on the development and implementation of a comprehensive driver education and lane enforcement strategy prior to the bus lane installation.

New bus-only lanes are currently being implemented or are planned in many of our compact jurisdictions: Corridors currently under study include Georgia Avenue NW in DC, Rockville Pike in Montgomery County and Leesburg Pike in Northern Virginia.  As BRT becomes a more popular and effective mode for cities seeking high-quality, higher-speed transit at a relatively low cost, there is an increasing interest in identifying strategies to successfully enforce vehicle restrictions in bus-only lanes. Read more…

Categories: Engage Tags: ,

2016 Travel Trends Rail Passenger Survey is Underway

April 19th, 2016 No comments

Metrorail riders get excited; the 2016 Travel Trends Rail Passenger Survey is here! If you haven’t noticed all the orange in the stations yet (surveyors in orange Metro bibs handing out orange surveys, offering orange Travel Trends pens to fill them out), keep an eye out! Throughout April and May of 2016, WMATA (Metro) will be conducting the Travel Trends survey on a rolling basis throughout the system, to cover all 91 stations.

The Rail Passenger Survey is an FTA-mandated survey that Metro is required to administer every five years, or at least two years after the launch of new rail service (this year’s survey comes two years after the launch of the Silver Line). The primary use of the survey is to:

  1. Determine jurisdictional transit subsidy allocations.
  2. Improve our service and validate our internal systems.

Here is a video that summarizes the work being conducted and why it’s important:

Your answers to the survey contribute to the data used to support operating and planning activities—it provides us with greater insight into how we can best match service to fit the overall needs of our customers using the system.

Here is a sample of some of the questions we ask in the survey, and what your answers to those questions will be used for: Read more…

Categories: Engage Tags: , , ,

Data Download: Metrorail Ridership by Station by Month, 2010-2015

March 24th, 2016 6 comments

Data_clipSee how seasons, land use, and service drive trends in rail ridership at the station level, in this new data download.

This latest data download shows Metrorail ridership by station, by month, for the last five years or so. It hints at the complex factors driving rail ridership – from short-term effects like weather or service changes, to long-term trends like real estate development and office relocations.

We see a few tidbits in this data:

  • Seasonal trends: rail ridership follows a predictable pattern each year – peaking in the summer and around Cherry Blossoms, and reaching lows around the holidays.  Compare the high seasonality of Arlington Cemetery to a more commuter-oriented station, for example.  Ridership in the summer at that station can quintuple over its winter base.
  • Weather impacts: see how the blizzard this past January lowered the average for the month as service was shut down.
  • Service changes: See how the opening of the Silver Line shifted riders from Orange to Silver in July-August 2014.
  • Land Use is key! Look at the recent growth rates at stations like Navy Yard and NoMa (formerly New York Ave.), reflecting the new jobs and residences near those stations.

Metrorail Ridership, by Station by Month, 2010-2015, Average Weekday (.xlsx, 120kb)

Metrorail Ridership, by Station by Month by Period, 2010-2015, Average Weekday (.xlsx, 630kb) (Added 3/30/2016)

Notes: these numbers are raw entries for an average weekday in the month, including snow days, excluding holidays when we did not run a weekday schedule.  The numbers are for trend analysis and will differ slightly from those we report in financial statements, which undergo additional data scrubbing and normalization.

What do trends you see?

Metrobus Z-Line Will Get a Revamp on March 27

March 23rd, 2016 3 comments

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Z Line buses at the Silver Spring Transit Center in November 2015. Photo by WMATA.

Bus riders on the Z routes on Colesville Road/Columbia Pike (MD US29) will see better service, simpler route names, and more, starting March 27.

Metro is overhauling the bus schedules on the Z-lines in the Silver Spring-Laurel area. The changes are derived from the recommendations from the Metrobus Z-Line Study, an in-depth planning process. The study, completed in January 2015, was a joint effort between Metro, the Maryland Department of Transportation, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation to improve service. These seven routes combined have some of the highest ridership in the Metrobus system, making the corridor ripe for evaluation and improvement.

The following changes for the Colesville Road / Columbia Pike (MD US29) (PDF) corridor are effective March 27.

What’s Coming:

  • The new Z Lines will consist of the Z2, Z6, Z7, Z8, and Z11, with new timetables.
  • Z9, Z13, and Z29 route designations will be eliminated.

New Saturday service will be added to Route Z6, providing customers with links to commercial developments in Westfarm area and the Plum Orchard Shopping Center. The new service will operate every 30 minutes. The Z8 on Saturday will be reduced to operate every 30 minutes, providing a coordinated 15 minute service along portions shared with the Z6. Additionally, trip times for weekday Z2, Z6 and Z8 service will change to improve on time performance and better coordinate buses along Colesville Road and Lockwood Drive.

Routes Z9 and Z29 will be discontinued and replaced by new route Z7. Route Z7 will provide service from Silver Spring Metrorail Station to South Laurel Park and Ride serving: Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville Crossing Park and Ride, Sweitzer Lane, Van Dusen Road, and Cherry Lane.  The new Z7 will increase the frequency of service to residents of South Laurel by operating every thirty minutes.

Route Z11 will be extended from Greencastle Park and Ride to Burtonsville Crossing Park and Ride via Columbia Pike (US-29). Current Z29 customers boarding buses at the stops in the area of Blackburn Road will now be served by the Z11. Route designation Z13 will be discontinued. Passengers currently using the Z13 in the morning to get to Greencastle may opt to take routes Z6 and Z8 instead.

With the new services, passengers out of Burtonsville Crossing Park and Ride will now see increased service to Silver Spring. All current boarding and alighting restrictions along Colesville Road and Columbia Pike will remain in place.

These changes will allow Metro to better align resources to provide effective service in the corridor.

Check out the upcoming timetables to plan your trip.