You name it, we’ve tested it – and here’s what we found out.
Metro is completely focused on safety, reliability, and financial stability. It’s also our job to ensure that the regional transit system improves regional mobility and connects communities. So we’ve had many posts on ConnectGreaterWashington over the last few years describing the importance of a regional approach to transit planning. Posts include FAQs, how different modes compare, the paramount importance of transit-supportive land use, an approach to assessing Metrorail, BRT, and LRT expansion projects, and the overall proposed plan for Metrorail and surface transit to name a few.
List of Transit Corridors, Projects, and Plans Analyzed as Part of CGW
Finally, we have completed a set of one- to two-page summaries for all the strategies, plans and projects we tested in our evaluation of future needs and opportunities. Due to the size, we’ve divided the summaries into two parts. First, are all of the Metrorail strategies, plans, and projects (pdf). Second, are all of the other modes’ strategies, plans, and projects (pdf). Both documents include bookmarks to help you find the various summaries by topic area.
Each strategy, project, or plan includes:
- A summary of the strategy;
- The goals that were addressed;
- The regional activity centers connected;
- A map that shows the project or plan;
- Key findings for each such as ridership (including new transit riders vs riders gained from other existing modes), transfers, crowding, connectivity, and surrounding density; and
- Recommendations for this strategy.
As we and the region continue to grapple with today’s safety, operations and maintenance needs, while also planning for future growth, we will continue to refer to the CGW work undertaken to date. Let us know how you can imagine this body of work being used in the future.
Categories: Strategies access, BRT, bus, commuter bus, commuter rail, LRT, Metrobus, Metrorail, planning, plans, rail, region, Streetcar, transit-oriented development
Metro and the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) engaged in a wide ranging discussion with TPB board members about how the TPB and the region’s jurisdictions can support Metro now and in the future. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot more to it than just predictable funding.
At the December 16th Transportation Planning Board (TPB) meeting (audio), Metro Board Member Harriet Tregoning gave the final presentation (pdf) and facilitated a discussion on Metro’s challenges and provided specific recommendations and/or opportunities for the TPB and local jurisdictions to increase their support the Authority today, tomorrow, and into the future. The focus of the discussion was specifically on plans, processes, and actions that the TPB and local jurisdictions can modify or begin that will ensure predictable funding and/or enhanced funding options, incorporate land use as a transportation strategy, increase transit-supportive land use decisions, prioritize bike and pedestrian access, and advance bus priority on the streets that local jurisdictions operate.
Last summer, TPB members requested a more extensive conversation surrounding Metro’s challenges as well as recommendations on how TPB, through its plans and processes, and local jurisdictions, through their decisions and funding, could support Metro. Metro opted to provide three presentations and the December presentation built on information provided at the November 18th meeting (audio) on Metro Fundamentals (pdf) and Momentum (pdf) that were given by Tom Webster, Managing Director of Metro’s Office of Management and Budget, and Shyam Kannan, Managing Director of Metro’s Office of Planning. The November presentations served to ensure a baseline understanding across TPB Board members, highlight our capital and operating challenges, and identify safety, state of good repair, and longer term needs to ensure safe, reliable transit that meets the growing region. Read more…
Categories: Engage BRT, bus, funding, local jurisdictions, meetings, Metro 2025, Metrobus, Metrorail, Momentum, planning, presentations, support Metro, tod, TPB, transit-oriented development, Transportation Planning Board, walkability
Secretary Foxx has issued his direction that Metro cannot consider any new rail expansion right now, and WMATA agrees! So much so that we wrote it into our strategic plan back in 2013. Earlier this fall, the Prince William County’s Board of Supervisors heard from WMATA about the importance of fixing Metro’s core before considering any expansion.
The Silver Line’s Phase 2 extension from Wiehle-Reston East to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County could be the last for decades to come. (photo credit: Ryan Stavely, Flickr)
As the region grows, so does the pressure for extensions of Metrorail. The requests are frequent and common: “Extend Metro to BWI! to Centreville! to Waldorf! to Fort Belvoir!” We’ve heard and even modeled most of these requests. For a system that’s shaped and contributed tremendous economic value to the region, it only makes sense that communities outside of its immediate reach want improved access to it. WMATA Director of Planning Shyam Kannan recently took the opportunity to discuss the potential for the extension of Metrorail into Prince William County. With 80% of today’s Metrorail trips going to or through the system’s core (PDF), he noted that major core capacity improvements must be made prior to considering any additional rail extensions. While addressing core capacity has been a major part of Momentum, including initiatives like the 8-car train program, core stations, and New Blue Line Connections, the plan remains largely unfunded. With safety and state of good repair needs as Metro’s top priorities and core capacity relief put off indefinitely, any potential extensions (if they happen) are likely decades away from being built.
Categories: Strategies BRT, commuter rail, core capacity, corridors, expansion, land use, LRT, Metro 2025, Metrorail, Momentum, policy, Streetcar, tod, transit-oriented development
Metrobus is a critical part of the region’s transit system. It can be better, stronger, faster, and more efficient than it is today. Here’s how.
As described in previous posts, Metrobus is due for a regional service update to better reflect its many and sometimes conflicting regional roles. Certainly, updates to its business model, operational scale and performance standards could go a long way towards helping the region make business- and customer-savvy decisions about the best way to deploy this service. However, alone these changes would not significantly enhance cost efficiency, nor make the buses run faster, nor get more people to use the service, nor better connect this region which is hungry for more mobility as it prospers and expands.
Multiple Metrobus vehicles stuck in traffic on 16th Street in DC, a regular occurance.
Unfortunately, today’s bus operating environment is unsustainable, both operationally and financially. Growing traffic congestion and longer boarding times due to growth in demand have prolonged the scheduled bus travel times, resulting in less reliable service, longer passenger wait times, the use of more fleet just to keep the same headway, and ultimately higher operations costs. As a region we can choose to just accept the service we have, or we can do the heavy lifting to create the service we need (and deserve).
Here is the beginning of a blueprint of near-term actions that can speed up buses, improve on-time performance, and better serve our customers. Read more…
Metrorail has had a huge impact on the region, but as we’ve seen with the Silver Line, it can take decades to get from concept to execution.
One of the questions I hear most often as a planner for Metro is When will a Metro station open in xyz neighborhood, “in Georgetown”, or “at BWI”? It was the first question at the March Citizens Association of Georgetown meeting. My response — “Decades” — often elicits audible groans.
Given last summer’s opening of the Silver Line, we have a case study that can provide insight on how long it takes to plan, fund, and construct large infrastructure projects. The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project has done a phenomenal job of maintaining a project timeline. Since the region has many recent newcomers, it is helpful to revisit many of the key milestones, as shown below. It is also helpful to remind readers that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) was the ultimate developer of the Silver Line (both Phases I and II) and that the project “only” required cooperation among the Commonwealth of Virginia, MWAA, Metro, the federal government, and Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. While just one example, the Silver Line’s long story is not vastly different from other mega-projects happening in the region and across the country.
Timeline for Planning, Environmental Process, Legal and Financing, and Constructing the Silver Line
Transit expansion is in demand but Metrorail, light rail, and other high capacity transit projects can be expensive to build, operate and maintain. With limited resources to invest, our region must ensure that these projects serve the most robust transit markets and are supported by strong transit friendly policies.
Informed by our peers and local performance measures, Metro is developing guidelines that the region can use to inform development of high capacity transit projects. As we’ve explored previously, there’s much more to transit expansion than Metrorail. In fact, due to the cost associated with Metrorail expansion along with existing land uses and built environment in much of the region, most of our future high capacity transit projects will be made up of other transit modes. But what is the best way to decide what mode best fits each corridor? The goal of the expansion guidelines is to inform those decisions.
Development in Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor has validated initial and ongoing investments in Metrorail. (source: Arlington County)
A literature and peer review included policy documents from BART (PDF), the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Florida DOT, Virginia DRPT, Federal Transit Administration (PDF), and research from the University of California Transportation Center (UCTC). The review found that ridership, density, the presence of walkable streets and sidewalks, local plans and policies, and cost effectiveness are the most relevant criteria to evaluate transit projects and that rigorous performance targets are needed to support each transit mode. Read more…
Categories: ConnectGreaterWashington BART, BRT, corridors, DRPT, Light Rail, Metrorail, plans, ridership, Streetcars, tod, transit-oriented development
MBTA’s Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is impressive and efficient, but could be easier to use for visitors.
Boston’s Silver Line BRT at one of its Logan Airport stops. Photo by the author.
I recently flew to Boston for the first time in years and had the opportunity to ride their Silver Line BRT that provides service between Boston Logan Airport and south Boston. The service features some dedicated right-of-way, real-time arrival signage and a few actual stations.
The Silver Line has real-time arrival screens at Boston Logan, easing the wait time for customers excited to explore a city or return home. The buses used are dual-power, meaning they run on electricity via overhead wires at some times and on diesel when there are no wires. The switching between the two takes a few minutes but it really wasn’t very noticeable.
I was very impressed with the stations. For example, the World Trade Center station is a significant and impressive structure, and felt more like a traditional rail station that a bus stop by far. It features a multi-story tower topped with the “T” logo. The station interior features side platforms, escalators and stairs, real-time arrival screens and public art. A station like this makes a statement that high quality transit service will be operating here for a long time, despite not having rails in the ground. Read more…
Video still showing Cleveland’s center-running BRT, from the filming of Captain America, Winter Soldier. Click image for original video.
I recently watched “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” with some friends recently at the theater near Gallery Pl-Chinatown. I had heard rumors that the film was set in DC, which was a selling point since it’s always fun hearing names of local streets or venues and picking out inconsistencies between Hollywood’s portrayal and the real thing. Our friends over at Greater Greater Washington already noted that this film replaces parts of Rosslyn and Roosevelt Island with a massive S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters complex.
But little did I know that the film would take me to Cleveland. Read more…
The region either already has or is planning for a variety of different modes. How do they compare? The Silver Line will soon open as a Metrorail line. Later this year, a streetcar will be operating on H Street, NE with others planned for Columbia Pike in Arlington and the District. Arlington and Alexandria are jointly building a bus rapid transit (BRT) line between Crystal City and Potomac Yard. Once funding is finalized, Maryland will build the Purple Line and light rail transit (LRT) will connect New Carrollton and Bethesda. This is all in addition to the region’s existing commuter rail, commuter bus, Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroExtra services. The region is not only expanding transit services, but it also expanding the types of transit modes that will operate. At long last, instead of talking about Portland (streetcar), Jersey City (light rail), or Cleveland (bus rapid transit), we’ll be able to point directly to services and infrastructure in our backyard or take a trip and experience the pros and cons of these modes for ourselves.
So how do the different modes compare? What kind of purposes does each serve? There are many external factors and trade-offs that influence how agencies and jurisdictions select which mode to implement. As we see from the ongoing debates in jurisdictions across the region between LRT and BRT or streetcar and enhanced bus, there is not always one perfect choice. However, an array of transit and land use measures can provide context to the conversation. As part of ConnectGreaterWashington: The 2040 Regional Transit System Plan, we developed the below table to compare commuter rail, commuter bus, heavy rail, light rail, streetcar, bus rapid transit, and enhanced bus across land use intensity (households and employment), vehicle capacity, stop spacing, trip length, and capital and operating costs.
What do you think? Does this information better inform the rail vs bus debate? What other information would provide more clarity on what modes work where?
Comparison of High-Capacity Transit Modes
The Los Angeles area is aggressively leveraging billions in local tax dollars to transform the region into a more vibrant place with a variety of transportation options.
Measure R Spending Breakdown
The conventional wisdom today is that the days of big expensive transportation investments are over. Los Angeles apparently didn’t get the memo. The main transportation planning and development agency in the LA area, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), is currently leading the development of the nation’s largest regional transportation expansion program. The program of projects, Measure R, was overwhelmingly approved by more than two-thirds of LA county voters in 2008, and raised the local sales tax one-half cent. The half-cent sales tax is expected to raise $40 billion over 30 years (including an estimated $590 million in 2012) to provide the lion’s share of funding for Measure R transportation projects around the region, helping Angelenos avoid some of the area’s legendary traffic congestion. Not satisfied with the already impressive pace of expansion, LA Metro’s Board of Directors is now exploring a second ballot measure that could come as early as 2016.
Measure R includes an impressive array of transit projects, including the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit extension, Expo and Regional Connector light rail lines, and the Westside Subway, among others. Below is a map of the transit projects fully or partially funded by Measure R (click on the map below for the interactive version):
Measure R Transit Map (source: LA Metro)