Walk This Way – Metro’s Planning Office at APTA’s Rail Conference

July 11th, 2016 No comments

Metro shared its Station Area Investment Plan with the APTA Rail Conference attendees – and met with rave reviews.

I recently had the opportunity to present our Station Area Strategic Investment Plan to the over 1,500 attendees at APTA’s Rail Conference.  Many thanks to APTA’s Sustainability and Urban Design Standards program for footing the bill for this trip to Phoenix. It was 117 degrees there, and tested even my desire for walkable urbanism, but that’s another story entirely.

The presentation highlighted the Office of Planning’s work to quantify the return on investment of station area accessibility improvements, work with local jurisdictions, to prioritize these improvements based on an analytical platform, and identify the appropriate funding mechanisms to get these improvements built.

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TOD in Prince George’s County Getting off the Ground

July 7th, 2016 1 comment

Prince George’s County’s bold new vision for transit-oriented development deserves attention and support!

For more than a decade, regional planners and economic development officials have lamented the relative lack of development around Prince George’s County Metrorail stations, and yours truly had opportunities to challenge its leadership to up its game in accelerating transit-oriented development policy and practice more than a few times.  On this blog, we’ve highlighted how lack of development has hindered ridership growth from the County, and we’ve articulated the benefits that would accrue to the region if Prince George’s County were to achieve the development potential of its Metrorail stations – in fact, Metrorail might just run an operating surplus if those areas were developed.

Now we all have reason to cheer and hope that these challenges and aspirational goals might be more than just wish lists and a hope certificate.

TOD in Prince Georges County Mar 2016 Read more…

Would a Cordon Charge Help Stabilize Metro’s Finances? (Part 4)

July 5th, 2016 2 comments

Adding a London-style cordon charge (or fee) to enter much of the region’s central employment area would increase transit ridership across all modes and also reduce (or eliminate) the subsidy that local governments pay every year to support Metro, meaning lower tax bills for regional residents.*

(This post is part of a multi-part series about ConnectGreaterWashington (CGW) a study that WMATA completed in 2015 and its application of land use and pricing as a transportation strategy.)

Approach for Building Scenario B to make Transit More Cost-Effective

Scenario “B” looked at land use shifts and increasing the price of driving, and how those changes would impact Metro.

Metro asked, “What if the region’s future growth was used to fulfill the expectations of regional plans such as Region Forward and Place + Opportunity? What if transit-supportive policies were implemented across the region? Would WMATA benefit? Would the region?”

Answer: YES!!

*Note that Metro is not proposing that the region adopt a cordon charge, but it was tested as part of an analysis of how smarter land use and more transit-supportive policies could impact transit ridership, our operating subsidy, and other measures that support the region’s growth.

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SafeTrack’s Surge 2 Bus Shuttle Proves Bus Rapid Transit Can Work Here

June 28th, 2016 No comments

The shuttle buses at Eastern Market during Surge 2 are arriving every two minutes at rush hour, and are moving nearly the same number of people as 3 lanes of Pennsylvania Avenue SE.  This shows how much we can achieve by giving buses priority – lanes, signal priority, and more – on busy streets. 


Commuters transferring from shuttle buses Eastern Market station (photo by author)

For the last week, Metrobus has been operating bus shuttles between Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road, to provide alternatives around SafeTrack Surge 2 while we rebuild tracks and infrastructure on that segment of Metrorail.  While still moving less than half the the riders as what Metrorail normally moves, the shuttles are moving an impressive number of people:

  • In the morning rush hours, buses are arriving at Eastern Market every 2 minutes on average
  • Shuttle buses are delivering 1,800 people per hour to Eastern Market between 8:00 and 9:00am.  This is about the same as the number of vehicles that 3 lanes of Pennsylvania Ave. SE typically moves (1,500-2,000 vehicles per hour per direction, according to TPB Regional Transportation Data Clearinghouse).
  • Around 16,000-17,000 people per day are riding the shuttles, or about two-thirds of the number of vehicles driven through the corridor in a day (25,000 average annual daily traffic)
  • Traffic Control Officers from DDOT are critical to this operation, ensuring that everyone moves safely and efficiently

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Growth Mode or Stuck in Neutral? Or Both?

June 27th, 2016 2 comments

Population and jobs are up, but regional travel is down – Why? The very nature of trip-making may be changing in this region.

Crystal City Sta -am Rush 060912-129For several years, we have been reporting internally and externally about declines in Metrorail ridership. Our most recent rail ridership numbers show continued patterns of ridership levels that are five to eight percent below its 2009 peak, and despite gains in March, the trend in April and May suggests that the ridership patterns that we are seeing now are more structural than cyclical.  The implication here is that Metrorail may be operating at a “new normal” level that is still poised for growth, but growing from a baseline that has been reset at a lower level.

Theories abound about why this is taking place – telework and rail reliability are among the most talked-about culprits – but it’s almost impossible to isolate one cause among many in a time period that also witnessed fare increases, gas prices drop to historically low levels, and wild variations in the Federal transit benefit.

Now we have new information that may present a compelling theory about the declines in Metrorail ridership – the region is making fewer and fewer tripsData recently released by our Transportation Planning Board depicts a startling story of this region’s travel patterns over the last decade or so.  This data tell us that despite economic factors that would normally portend increased trip-making – rising population, household, and employment growth – this region is actually seeing fewer trips overall, regardless of mode. Read more…

Shared Mobility – Complementing Public Transit in the Nation’s Capital

June 27th, 2016 6 comments

In the DC region, shared mobility (Uber, Lyft, etc.) are actually complementary to the transit network. Here’s why we see opportunities to consider even better system integration.

“Transportation Network Companies” – you know them as Uber, Lyft and a host of other brands – are now part of the urban transportation landscape. Some have suggested that the rise of their popularity contributes to ridership decline on Metrorail and still others have heralded their emergence as the end of transit as we know it.  Always focused on investigating trends and proliferating fact rather than folklore, we wanted to know the truth.  Should Metro be nervous?  Are customized trips like these going to put traditional bus and rail out of business?


Research (PDF) published by the American Public Transit Association and Transportation Research Board – and which I had the pleasure of helping to oversee –  tells us that customers of ridesourcing tend to use the services when transit is less available as well as to get to destinations not easily served by traditional transit.  Furthermore, we learned that in the DC region especially, these TNCs tend to function as informal “Metrorail shuttles” – almost two thirds of Uber trips in the District begin or end at a Metrorail station, and slightly more than a third of Uber trips follow that pattern when we zoom out to the entire region.  Similar statistics prevail when examining the usage of car sharing companies such as Zipcar and Enterprise.  Finally, the data indicates that 57% of frequent users of ridesourcing companies as well as car- and bike-sharing customers identified bus and rail transit as their preferred transportation mode.  This tells us that these services have an important role in complementing the Metro rail system for many customers.Source: Lyft Read more…

New Metrobus schedules begin this Sunday

June 23rd, 2016 No comments

On Sunday, June 26, service changes will take effect on Metrobus routes across the region.

Bus%20Gallery%20Place%20041816-5908[1]These adjustments aim to improve system reliability, route simplicity, and customer service. The bulk of this service change impacts bus routes in Virginia. Check below to see if your routes will be affected and look up upcoming timetables here.

DC: 42, 52, 53, 54, 60, 79, D1, E2, E4, G2, L2, N2, N3, N4, N6, A2, A6, A8, A42, A46, A48, D3, D4, G8, P6, V1, V2, V4, X1, X3, X9

MD: B29, B31, J11, J12, J13, K11, K12, R12, V14

VA: 1A, 1B, 1C, 1E, 1Z, 2B, 3T, 4A, 4B, 9A, 10A, 10B, 10E, 10R, 10S, 15M, 17M, 18E, 18J, 18P, 21A, 21D, 23A, 23B, 23T, 28X, 29K

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.


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…