ICYMI: What Makes a World Class Metro – Lessons from Peers @ Metro Summit

June 22nd, 2016 No comments

Metro turned 40 this year. Regional leaders are looking to ahead to what Metro could be in the next 40 years.

artworks-000155909567-uxkbs7-t500x500On Monday, June 13th, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Greater Washington Board of Trade (BOT) convened a second Metro Summit to discuss opportunities and lessons learned from peer systems across North America. One hundred elected and business officials from across the region gathered at the Mayflower Hotel to discuss funding and governance structures with the leaders of Toronto, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York’s transit agencies. Additionally, Alex Barron, the Head of Metro Benchmarking, Railway and Transport Strategy Centre, Imperial College London, provided context on what attributes define a world class metro. (pdf)

Audio of the entire proceedings is also available. Information on the first Metro Summit, which was held on March 30, 2016 and discussed funding, safety, development around Metro stations, and governance is also available by audio.

 

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What’s the “Word” on SelectPass

June 20th, 2016 7 comments

Customers are saying great things about SelectPass, Metro’s new unlimited monthly pass program.

SelectPassWordCloud

Word Cloud representing what SelectPass customers have said about the new pass program. Click for a larger version.

This post was submitted by Metro’s Director of Customer Research.

Metro’s limited time offer SelectPass has early adopters talking. In April, Metro sought to provide new payment methods by introducing SelectPass—a multi-tiered pass option allowing customers to ride as much as they want on Metrorail (and Metrobus).  Currently two price points are available. Read more…

Late Night Bus Maps and Options

June 15th, 2016 2 comments

Updated 7/6/2016

Now that Metrorail closes at midnight on weekends, what buses are available? New regional bus maps can help you find alternatives to Metrorail after midnight.

Since the launch of the SafeTrack program, rush-hour alternatives have been a hot topic across the region, especially for commuters impacted by the rail surges. However, it’s also important to address navigation strategies for people impacted by Metrorail’s earlier weekend closing time — midnight rather than 3:00 A.M. on Friday and Saturday nights (technically early Saturday and Sunday mornings). While nightlife patrons are part of the mix, most of our late-night rail customers are traveling to or from work. Since teleworking may not always be an option for these commuters, night owls should be aware of the bus options available after midnight.

We’ve assembled bus service availability, by hour, on weekends from Metrobus and our regional partners, and put the data on maps!

To see individual route labels, click on a map to expand.

Detailed timetable information is available from Metrobus, Fairfax Connector, Ride On, ART, and DC Circulator. Some bus service differs slightly between the two weekend days; you can plan a specific trip in Metro’s Trip Planner.

Note: Metrobus map data is based on information from the Late Night Service Study published in April 2016 and may not reflect recent service changes on certain bus routes. We will follow up next week with any updates.

Updated 7/6/2016: Map graphics have been revised to reflect current service patterns.

More maps below the fold:  Read more…

Rail Car Crowding and SafeTrack – Potential Customer Impacts Analysis Released

June 13th, 2016 1 comment

We have developed a customer impact analysis that shows how and where customers may be impacted in the SafeTrack safety surges, to help guide regional partners plan mitigation and alternatives

you_down_with_PPCThe first SafeTrack project began on June 4, meaning that Monday, June 6th, was the first day with peak-period service disruptions.  This first safety surge is to accommodate the track improvement project planned for the Orange and Silver lines between East Falls Church and Ballston.  With only one track available for revenue service, we are cutting back to just over 3 trains per hour on each line through the work zone.  When service levels decrease without a decrease in demand, we see an increase in passenger loading on rail cars.  We measure that with a metric called passengers per car, or PPC.

Our rail cars are designed to comfortably transport around 100 passengers each, with most sitting and a few customers standing.  After special events (or any given weekday on some lines) we often find rail cars with much higher passenger loads. From a planning perspective, an average PPC of greater than 120 is considered crowded.  Also, we know that customers don’t evenly distribute themselves across rail cars, so an average PPC of 120 means some cars are much more crowded. Read more…

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Off-Peak Fare Discounts and their Behavioral Implications

June 8th, 2016 4 comments

Metrorail riders facing a high percentage off-peak discount are motivated to delay their travel and save.

This post is guest-written by Sam Winward, a behavioral economist and Metrorail commuter who lives and works in the District. His analysis of Metro ridership patterns sheds light on the influence of off-peak pricing.

If you’ve ever waited a few extra minutes before swiping through a Metrorail faregate to qualify for the off-peak fare, you’re not alone. Within the afternoon peak / off-peak cusp period, when riders may be somewhat time flexible, Metrorail data from AprilMay 2015 confirms that some riders are delaying entry for savings.

What riders probably don’t know, is that their off-peak pricing discount could be substantially different from the riders around them. In fact, off-peak percent discounts can range from a 19% to 40% reduction of peak fares. Given the varying degree of off-peak incentive, riders are responding as we’d expect when weighing their opportunity cost of time.

As percent savings increase, riders are more likely to delay travel for off-peak fares. The graph below, derived from WMATA data, displays this ridership tendency.

Note the ridership uptick just after 7 pm. This runs counter to the natural pattern of declining ridership over this period, and the uptick steepens as the percent discount facing riders increases.

Exhibit 1_Ridership Uptick

So why is there so much variation in off-peak discounts, and who are the lucky riders allowed large savings?

Particular trips, based on mileage between origin / destination stations, are subject to off-peak fare “caps.” WMATA introduced the caps in 2012 when off-peak fares switched to incremental fee-per-mile pricing. Off-peak fares for trips of just under 7 and 10 miles were capped, as these trip distances would have otherwise seen very large increases between the old and new fare structure. A maximum off-peak fare cap of $3.60 was also implemented, affecting riders with trips lengths greater than 11 miles.

The effects of these fare caps remain in the system today, and are not mirrored in peak fares.

As displayed below, the gap between peak and off-peak fares increases over regions subject to off-peak fare caps. This makes off-peak travel more enticing for riders’ whose trip length falls within a green zone.

Exhibit 2_Fares

Notably, small tweaks in the fare structure have large behavioral effects.

Even if you decide that added off-peak savings aren’t worth the wait, at least your decision can be informed. To see the off-peak discount applicable to your route, and how it compares to the rest, check out the interactive off-peak discount calculator on my website.

The full story, including the off-peak discount calculator and a formal analysis of the delayed ridership patterns, can be found at Sam’s site.

WMATA Begins a New Capital Needs Inventory

June 6th, 2016 1 comment

Restoring Metro’s reliability and quality requires a comprehensive approach to asset management and reinvestment.

dupont_escalator_replacement

Capital needs include escalator replacement, as pictured here.

In April, Metro staff commenced the important work of updating its Capital Needs Inventory (CNI), a financially unconstrained prioritized plan of capital needs that documents Metro’s infrastructure, vehicle, facility, technology, and system capacity investment needs over an immediate to 10-year horizon, and provides input to the development of the six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).  This document, which itemizes and prioritizes the capital investment needs of the entire Authority over a ten-year period, not only informs our jurisdictional partners about funding needs, but is now also a component of the federally required Transit Asset Management Plans outlined in MAP-21.  Importantly, Metro’s CNI effort is occurring at a critical time both for the Authority and within the transit industry. Concurrent with recent asset-related failures on Metro’s rail system, international standards for asset management (ISO 55000) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) proposed rules have recently been published that can help guide the methodology and tools used to develop a best-in-class CNI.

Have we done this before?

Awareness of the need to focus on the maintenance and renewal of Metro’s capital assets has existed since the system opened, but a comprehensive approach to long-term planning for the funding and management of capital assets has been lacking for much of Metro’s history. In the early years of Metrorail operations, the focus of funding campaigns was on construction of the full system. Toward the late 1990s, as the 103-mile rail system neared completion, efforts began to quantify capital improvement needs and to increase the size of the capital improvement program budget. Some key milestones during that period included: Read more…

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Rail Ridership Data to Help the Region Plan for SafeTrack

May 27th, 2016 3 comments

To help the region and our partners plan alternatives and mitigate the impacts of SafeTrack, Metro releases rail ridership data applicable to this important maintenance effort.

SafeTrack example 2Rail Link Volumes: This data describes the number of customers on board trains between two contiguous stations, for a given hour of the day, then assigned to rail links.  For example, the link volume from Bethesda to Friendship Heights is the sum of everyone who boarded upstream, minus those who exited at or before Bethesda. This can be useful for planning SafeTrack mitigation efforts because it gives a first-order estimate of the potential demand for a bus bridge, for example.

Online Interactive Map of Metrorail Link Volumes, average weekday and Saturday in May 2015

Metrorail Link volumes, average weekday in May 2015, by hour, by line color (580kb, .xlsx)

Read more…

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…

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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!

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