A crowd of tourists wait to board the St. Charles Streetcar.
A few years ago I visited New Orleans and took the St. Charles Streetcar from downtown to the terminus by Jefferson Ave. The stop where my friends and I boarded had a ticket vending machine, which we used. The stop pictured, however, did not. I shared this picture with friends, entitled “Twenty-Plus Reasons For Off-Board Fare Payment.”
Metro is currently investigating options for off-board SmarTrip loading.
Metro seeks to reduce delays to Metrobus caused by on-board SmarTrip card loading by installing off-board SmarTrip® Recharge Stations at key locations across the region.
Metro has been quite successful at increasing the use of SmarTrip® card usage on both bus and rail. As noted in a previous post, many initiatives — including surcharges for paying cash — have been successful at raising the the SmarTrip® use rate to about 90% on both Metrorail and Metrobus. As many readers have noted, many Metrobus customers load small amounts of cash — enough for one or two trips — onto their SmarTrip card in order to avoid the surcharge. This on-board load transaction can take between five and 30 seconds and, on average, one out of every 14 trips on Metrobus involves a small value load. On some routes it’s as frequent as one out of every seven. This behavior results in longer dwell times, slower rides, and less efficient operations of Metrobus.
One possible solution is to increase the opportunities for loading value onto SmarTrip cards before the customer boards. While SmarTrip cards can be reloaded online, at Metrorail stations and at a variety of retail outlets around the region, the frequency of on-board loading indicates the need for additional, convenient opportunities to add value to SmarTrip cards.
Example of potential SmarTrip Reload Station size and location. Image updates every 5 seconds. Click image for larger version.
Metro is seeking to meet this need by developing and deploying SmarTrip Recharge Stations (SRS) at selected bus stops around the region. In addition to facilitating the loading of fares and passes to SmarTrip cards and working with Metro’s current back-end systems, the requirements for these recharging stations include: Read more…
During the morning rush hour, Metrobus carries 50% of all of the people traveling on 16th Street NW towards downtown DC, despite using just 3% of the vehicles. However, it still gets stuck in traffic.
It will come as no surprise to regular riders of the Metrobus S1,2,4 (PDF), or MetroExtra S9 (PDF), but ridership has grown tremendously in recent years on 16th Street, from just over 16,000 riders per weekday in 2008 to about 20,500 this year. To keep pace, Metro has added lots of new service, most notably the S9 limited stop service in 2009.
In fact, Metro has added so much rush hour service on lower 16th Street that buses headed towards downtown DC now operate more frequently than any transit service in the region, including Metrorail, with buses arriving an average of nearly every 90 seconds.
A new dedicated busway along “the widest street in the world” has reduced friction between buses and cars, but created some new friction between preservationists and government officials in Buenos Aires.
Median contraflow busway along Av 9 de Julio.
I just returned from my honeymoon in Buenos Aires. One of the first things I noticed while exploring the downtown “micro center” was a four-lane contraflow busway along Av 9 de Julio, often referred to as the widest street in the world.
Av 9 de Julio is literally a block wide — check out this jaw-dropping photo — with 7 traffic lanes in each direction in the main roadway and an additional 2 lanes of access road, also in each direction. Up until recently, buses traveled in the access lanes, conflicting with cars and pedestrians. A new four-lane busway facility was recently constructed along the center of this massive avenue. The facility is well lit, attractive and fast: the bus travel time down the three-kilometer roadway is expected to drop from 60 minutes to 20. Read more…
Metro requests feedback on draft Greenhouse Gas (GHG) calculator.
As part of the 40 Days of Momentum, a recent blog post the importance of Metro to the region, including greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions reductions. Now it is your turn to look up your share of those GHG reductions.
Please try out our draft Greenhouse Gas Calculator, which asks for a starting and ending address, and then routes your trip via automobile and transit and displays the route and GHG emissions differences.* We are soft-launching this tool to crowd-source the quality assurance process and assess its usefulness.
Launch the GHG Emissions Savings Calculator!
What other features would you like to see? Did the tool accurately portray your travel choices? What is the difference in GHGs between driving and transit for your most frequent trip?
* Note on GHG calculations: the tool uses the Google Directions API to route your trip using both automobile and transit. The Google Directions API response includes each step of the journey, including mode and distance. We apply standard rates of GHG emissions per mile to the different modes used. As an added bonus, if your transit trip includes walking, we toss in an estimate of the calories you burned too!
NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday highlighted Arlington County‘s success in tackling commuting challenges, particularly as a result of the decision to bring Metrorail and transit-oriented development to the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
When the Metrorail system was initially designed in the early 1960s, the plan proposed running the Orange Line in the median of what would ultimately become Interstate 66. Arlington County officials lobbied hard and put forward county funds to bring the Orange Line to its existing home, under Wilson Boulevard. They foresaw the benefits of high capacity transit IN the neighborhoods, as opposed to adjacent to the neighborhoods. They also set forth zoning, planning, and other policies to ensure that the county would maximize the benefits from that decision. The NPR story talks about the results of those decisions, the shift from a post-World War II auto-dependent suburb to a vibrant, mixed-use community that has become the gold standard for many cities across the world.
Orange Line – Proposed and Actual Alignments
For more background on the history, growth, and experience with transit-oriented development in the corridor, check out this powerpoint from the Arlington County Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development. Not only does it provide additional information, it has some terrific before and after photos of the different Arlington neighborhoods and how they have changed. Parkington, anyone?
If you’d like to contribute to the NPR series, you can share your commuting experience with Morning Edition – #NPRcommute.
Yesterday’s NPR story was the first in a multi-part series on how communities are tackling commuting challenges.
Our new “Line-Load Application” is expected to provide more accurate reports of system crowding by segment.
We recently finished testing a new version of the Line Load Application, a custom-developed application that distributes the load of passengers across the Metrorail system based on their points of entry and exit. This application allows us to estimate the passenger loads on rail system per segment (rail between stations). It is very important for Metro to be able to track the passengers per car across the rail system, both for peak hours on average weekdays and before and after special events. Because the new system is based on rail schedules, each passenger is assigned to an individual car for the assessment of passengers per car (PPC).
Example of southbound Green Line passenger loads, May 1, 2013, 8am-9am
Our current method of assessing passenger crowding is by stationing rail passenger counting personnel at key stations during peak periods, approximately twice per month per station. Because the inputs to the new application are faregate entry and exit data, this application is providing data like Metro has never seen before, including load factors and passengers per car for all stations at all times of the day.
Upon review, the output data from this tool appears to match expectations of passenger loads at major checkpoints in the system during peak periods with no disruptions. Output from this tool covering non-core checkpoints and non-peak periods will be validated soon.
In the next phase of improvements for this application, we will work to incorporate actual train arrival and departure times as an alternative to using schedules. This will allow us to understand the actual conditions our customers experience during service disruptions or after special events.
The completion of the development of the Line Load application comes at a point in time when Metro is striving to increase safety and relieve the crowding on the rail system, both of which are major topics of our new strategic plan, Momentum.
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.
Mary Hynes, a Metro Board Member, sat down with the Region Forward team to answer a few questions about the region’s biggest challenges, how Metro can help the region meet the goals in Region Forward, and how citizens can get involved. In addition to her role at Metro, Ms. Hynes is an Arlington County Board Member and the Chair of the Council of Governments’ Region Forward Coalition, the public-private group leading the effort to implement COG’s vision for the region’s future.
Q: What do you think are the region’s biggest challenges?
Mary Hynes: “The economy is a big challenge. We are still figuring out ‘the new normal’ with the federal government. The issues of housing and how people move efficiently around the region are also critical. It’s critical that we understand how housing and multimodal transportation options fit into the bigger picture of achieving a thriving region built of individual vibrant communities – one that is also attuned and committed to meeting the social equity requirements of our diverse, sustainable region.”
Q: How does Metro help us meet our Region Forward goals?
Mary Hynes: “The Metro Board made a decision when considering how to frame its new strategic plan to key off of Region Forward. We – my colleagues on the Metro Board and Metro’s professional staff – looked at what regional leaders had done with Region Forward—the goals they had set—and said “Metro can be the catalyst that enhances regional mobility and convenes stakeholders to ensure a successful, integrated regional multi-modal system”. We worked with the Transportation Planning Board at COG to make sure Momentum and the TPB’s Priorities Plan are aligned. It wasn’t hard because, in fact, there is regional consensus on the next set of transportation moves the region needs to make.
It’s an exciting time to be participating with COG and Metro. It’s a remarkable moment because people share the same vision. Leaders across the region have learned the same lessons. So the time is right! Just as regional leaders did 50 years ago when planning Metro, we all must lock our arms, commit to a funding plan, and move forward together.”
Read the full interview!
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is hosting its third and final round of public workshops in October to discuss moveDC, DDOT’s initiative to develop a strategic, multimodal long range transportation plan for the District. The public is encouraged to attend a workshop to review the draft plan and help prioritize the transportation options. The October workshops will enable you to:
- Share your ideas and observations on future plans for transportation;
- Learn how three approaches to a future DC transportation system perform;
- Review the results of our survey research;
- Provide input into the draft transportation plan; and
- Learn more about the moveDC local bus study.
Throughout October, you are also invited to participate in a survey to comment on and critique three approaches that have the potential to transform the way people travel in the District.
Public Meeting Dates and Locations
Monday, October 21
7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
625 First St NE
Tuesday, October 22
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., with a formal presentation 7 p.m.
Dorothy I. Height/Benning Neighborhood Library
3935 Benning Road, NE
Saturday, October 26
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
DCUSA Retail Center, 2nd Floor, between Target and Best Buy
3100 14th St. NW
Wednesday, October 30
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., with a formal presentation 7 p.m.
Petworth Neighborhood Library
4200 Kansas Ave., NW
Visit www.wemoveDC.org for more details and to sign up.
October 24, noon – 1:00 p.m.
October 28, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Categories: In The News access, bike, bike parking, BRT, bus, meetings, Metrorail, pedestrian, planning, plans, presentations, public comment, rail, stations, survey, tod