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.

Bus Service Is Improving for Greenbelt residents, including new Sunday service and more

March 22nd, 2016 No comments

We are improving bus service to the Greenbelt area at the end of March – simpler routes, better coordination with other routes, and new weekend service!

Residents, local advocates, and city officials in Greenbelt have been asking for improved service for years, and for good reason. Demand for bus service in Greenbelt is high – the Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line has the highest Saturday ridership of any lines with 6 day-a-week service. So last year, our bus planners proposed a series of changes that would improve bus service in the Greenbelt area. After an extensive public outreach process, a planning staff recommendation, and a board approval, we got the green light! The changes at Greenbelt, along with many others, begin March 27.

What’s coming to Greenbelt?

  • New Sunday service on routes G12, G14, and C2!
  • Simplifications to the College Park Line (routes 81, 82, 83, 86) and the Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line (routes G12, G13, G14, G16)
  • Elimination of the low-performing Greenbelt-Prince George’s Plaza Line (route R3)

On the College Park Line and Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line, we are removing routing nuances and complicated lines to make bus service more consistent and understandable to customers.

Original map submitted to the public and board for G12,13,14,16 changes in FY2015 that are being implemented on March 27, 2016.

Original map submitted to the public and board for G12,13,14,16 changes in FY2015 that are being implemented on March 27, 2016.

On the College Park Line, route 83 will now run seven days a week. Now that we’re adding Sunday C2, G12, and G14 service (see below), the Sunday-only route 81 is no longer needed, so we will replace it with route 83 trips. At its inception, the 81 was a route 83 variation intended to give Greenbelt Sunday service when there was no other bus route serving Greenbelt Metrorail station on Sundays.  This means that route 83 will run seven days a week, and the College Park Line will consistently serve the College Park – U of MD Metrorail station.

On the Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line, route G13 and G16 trips will be replaced with G14 trips (though some early morning trips will continue to bypass Beltway Plaza) and service on Aerospace Road will be eliminated due to low ridership. We are also adding Sunday service! The result of the restructuring is that the Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line will consist of two routes – G12 and G14 – that will run seven days a week. Even better, the Saturday and Sunday schedules will be the same, so riders only need to remember a weekday and weekend schedule. Read more…

New Route Schedules Coming Sunday, March 27

March 21st, 2016 No comments

Metro is changing bus schedules across the region starting Sunday, March 27. Stay tuned to PlanItMetro for an in-depth look at two of the biggest changes: the Greenbelt area, and the Z-Lines.

Metrobus planners will be implementing schedule adjustments to improve reliability, route simplicity, and customer service.  Most of these changes are the latest round in Metro’s ongoing State of Good Operations process.

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Check below to see if your routes will be affected by any of the changes, then prepare yourself for March 27 by viewing the new timetables.

  • DC: 34, 45, 56, 63, 64, 90, 92, 93, A8, B8, B9, E2, G8, H6, H8, H9, S2, S4, S9
  • MD: 81, 82, 83, 89, 89M, C2, C8, G12, G13, G14, G16, J5, J7, J9, K11, K12, Q1, Q2, Q4, R3, V14, V15, W19, Y2, Y7, Y8, Z2, Z6, Z7 (NEW), Z8, Z9, Z11, Z13, Z29
  • VA: 3Y, 7A, 7H, 7X, 7Y, 16H, 16X, Metroway, S91 (TAGS)

Battery Storage Technology Demonstration Gets Federal Seal of Approval

March 15th, 2016 1 comment

After successfully testing a battery at West Falls Church, Metro is looking into more ways of re-capturing braking energy from trains. This could save operating costs and improve environmental sustainability, too.

FTA Visit to Battery Storage Pilot at West Falls Church

FTA Visit to WMATA Battery Storage Pilot at West Falls Church

Metro spends approximately $50 million each year on electricity to move our riders and railcars around the system. Last month, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released a final report they commissioned Metro to conduct on technology to capture excess energy from regenerative braking through energy storage. The project was conducted by Metro and Kawasaki Heavy Rail Inc. at Metro’s West Falls Church substation as a “proof of concept” test of nickel-metal hydride battery technology as a storage media to capture otherwise wasted railcar braking energy from the direct current third rail.

Although the battery is headed back to Kawasaki, the demonstration was a success.  We learned how the technology could work with our infrastructure, and how the battery technology supports the asset management, safety and resource efficiency work of the FTA’s Office of Research, Innovation and Demonstration in the following areas:

  1. Energy savings of approximately $100,000-200,000 that can reduce transit agencies’ utility consumption and peak power demand charges.
  2. Voltage support to reduce line loss on the third-rail power distribution network. In particular, this offers significant benefits to system performance between traction power substations (fed from the local utility) providing a more efficient energy transfer to railcars.
  3. Emergency power support to move stationary railcars to safe access points in the event of a power outage from the local utility.
  4. Augmenting existing traction power substations to support revenue service during maintenance downtime, and/or enhancing power supply as part of traction power upgrades to support better service such as Metro’s 100% 8-car train expansion.

Metro is now analyzing of how battery technology could be scaled more widely throughout the system. As part of this process, Metro’s engineers are monitoring the results of similar energy storage/energy saving projects that have been undertaken by peer transit agencies such as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and London Underground.

As the cost of battery storage media such as nickel-metal hydride and similar lithium ion technology continues to fall, the economic benefits to rail transit will continue to grow. With the publication of this final report, Metro’s engineers’ commitment to strategic federal research provides a tangible example of how the Authority can support emerging technology as part of an investment in cost-effective new technology, and efficiently manage operating expenses.

Metrorail Ridership Data Download, October 2015

March 14th, 2016 8 comments

New data download features rail ridership by origin, destination, day of week, and quarter-hour intervals.

ridership_plots_subset

Subset of the visualization made by BioNrd aka Mike from our October 2014 data download data.

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s been a while since we’ve released a fresh batch of Metrorail ridership data.  Continuing the spirit of openness, we have recently uploaded data from October 2015 in CSV format.  (The number of rows is too great for Microsoft Excel).

This new dataset includes day of week data, so you can begin to investigate impacts of evolving workplace policies such as compressed work schedules.  You can also compare it to October 2014.

In the past, we have seen a lot of innovative analyses of the data we share.  Perhaps the best so far was a visualization of Metrorail station entries and exits by station by “BioNrd” aka “Mike.” What else can we learn from this dataset?

 

SelectPass Pilot: Making it Easier to Plan, Pay, and Ride

March 11th, 2016 29 comments

Customers showed high levels of interest in a customizable monthly pass.

pass_interest

Metro customer interest in a new unlimited monthly pass concept, by market segment.*

Metro is not raising fares this year, and instead is innovating ways to make it easier and more affordable to use the system.  Metro is taking a page from private industry, which has moved away from charging customers for each purchase and towards giving customers the option to “subscribe” to a company in exchange for unlimited access.  A Netflix subscription has replaced a membership at the local video store.  Amazon Prime offers unlimited shipping rather than shipping on each item.  Spotify subscriptions have replaced purchasing individual CDs.  Why not a subscription to use Metro?

Fortunately, we found a way to provide this to our customers and we’re really excited to begin testing it out starting this month.  The idea is to allow customers the ability to customize an unlimited access pass based on their usual travel patterns. Modeled after Seattle’s Puget Pass and frequently discussed on Greater Greater Washington over the past few years, this pass would allow customers to subscribe to a monthly pass, priced based on their typical trip costs, that offers unlimited travel on rail and the option to add on the same flexibility on bus.  We are calling it the Metro SelectPass.

Here’s the basic concept.  Customers tell Metro their usual start points and end points.  We then figure out how much that trip costs and offer you unlimited travel on rail up to that value in exchange for you buying 18 days worth of trips.  For example, if a customer’s “usual” peak trip is $2.25, they can get a pass priced at $81.00 (about $2.25 x 18 x 2) and then all trips valued at $2.25 or less would be free for an entire calendar month.  Extra trips for lunch, a night on the town, doctor’s appointment – it’s all included in one low price.  If you travel on a more expensive trip for any reason, you only pay the difference for that trip.  Most customers may enjoy savings of over 20% off of the pay-as-you-go rate, and they’ll also get the benefit of knowing they can travel as much as they want, whenever they want, all for one price.

For an additional $45 per month, customers can choose to add unlimited bus travel on top of unlimited rail travel.  That’s a huge savings compared to pay-as-you-go!  Read more…