Posts Tagged ‘history’

Two Business Challenges Facing Metrobus

September 2nd, 2015 5 comments

In the past 17 years, Metrobus has faced dual challenges: increased competition and increased roadway congestion.

Market Share Decline 1998-2013 v2

A past post discussed the role of the 1997 Blue Ribbon Mobility Panel in resetting the regional role and funding structure for Metrobus. In the decade-plus since then, several trends have emerged:  Local operators are rolling out more and more bus service, and buses are getting slower.

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Preparing for the Future of Metrobus

August 17th, 2015 2 comments

Since the signing of the WMATA compact more than 40 years ago, there has been an ongoing debate about the role of Metrobus as the Washington region’s primary bus service provider. 

Prior to the formation of Metrobus in 1973, bus services in the Washington region were operated by numerous private providers across the region operating on dedicated lanes, many of which were operating at a loss.  In the 1970s, Metro consolidated bus service under the Metrobus brand and increased service and headways throughout the WMATA compact area.  While Metro’s role as the regional rail provider has always been clear, its role as a bus provider has been more nuanced.

Old DC Transit and Metrobuses from the 1960s and 70s

This is the first in a series of posts which aim to provide a brief overview of the efforts undertaken over the past 20 years by Metro, and its regional partners,  to balance the responsibilities and funding of Metrobus with the wants and needs of our jurisdictional partners all while maintaining our regionally focused mission.

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Does Transit Yield its Promised Economic Benefits? A 1969 Perspective.

June 25th, 2015 1 comment

The actual economic benefits of Metro far exceed what planners estimated in 1969, and it’s worth remembering as we consider future transit investments.

In the late 1960s, when Metrorail was nearly about to begin construction, Metro published a forecast of the economic benefits of Metrorail.  The report made rosy projections of the all the travel time and costs the network, then a 97-mile proposed rail system, would bring.  (It also included photos of the pretty awesome 3-D model of a station, including maybe a one-car train?).  Now, four decades later, were the projections right?  Has Metrorail produced the benefits we thought?  The answer is yes, and then some.


Cover of a 1969 report estimating the economic benefits of Metrorail

At the time this report came out, the region was about to make a substantial investment in public transit , probably not unlike today, where we face real choices about whether to invest in Metro 2025 initiatives such as 8-car trains, the Purple Line, or bus lanes.  To quote the report,

Metro is ready for construction. The routes have been selected. The program for local financing has been approved.

How feasible is Metro? Who will benefit?  Will the benefits justify the costs? Is Metro a good public investment for the National Capital Region and its financial partner, the federal government?

The report tallied up all the time savings to riders – former motorists, former bus riders, and truckers – as well as the travel cost savings like avoided parking, vehicle savings, operating cost savings, and more.  It concluded that Metro would save $186 million per year in 1990$, roughly equivalent to $310 million/year in today’s dollars after adjusting for inflation.  Read more…

Metrorail: A Long-Term Solution

April 20th, 2015 12 comments

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

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We Had Bus Lanes a Half Century Ago and We Can Again

July 7th, 2014 9 comments

Despite having two million fewer people, our region used to have 60 miles of bus lanes.  It’s time to revive them.

Bus Lane on 14th Street in DC

Bus Lane on 14th Street next to the National Mall in the early 1970s

Did We Really Have That Many Bus Lanes?

Yes.  In the 1960s and 70s before Metrorail was built, Washington and its surrounding inner suburbs relied heavily on its bus system to get around, with very frequent service on a number of major streets.  According to our records (linked at the bottom of this post), the first bus-only lane was installed in 1962 on 16th Street NW in DC, generally between H Street NW and Florida Avenue NW [DDOT Fact Sheet, p. 6].  This was followed by dozens of miles of rush-hour and full-time installations, as shown in the map and table below.  Streets in red indicate bus lanes that were implemented as of 1976, while streets in black and blue represent bus lanes that were planned but, to our knowledge, never put in place.

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Silver and Blue Line Changes: Over a Decade in the Making

June 30th, 2014 6 comments

Recent and upcoming Metrorail service changes to accommodate the Silver Line have been in the works for over a decade, and are better for Blue Line riders than originally planned.

Metrorail Service Changes with the Silver Line Opening on July 26, 2014

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NPR Story on Arlington County’s Successes and Importance of Metro

October 25th, 2013 2 comments

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

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.

Metro from the Beginning

June 24th, 2013 1 comment

In 1967, the federal government passed Foggy-Bottom-escalators-and-Stairs-051612-11a bill to create the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro). The interstate Compact was signed by the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the State of Maryland. Metro continues to be chartered by this interstate Compact. Among all transit providers in the Washington region – which number more than 15 – Metro is unique in that it serves both states and the District. It provides the only truly regional transit network.

In the late 1970s, Metro trains carried just over 100,000 passengers a day and served hundreds of thousands of passengers on the bus system. Since then, most rail stations in the core of the system have seen ridership more than double. As depicted below, rail average weekday ridership system-wide has gone from just over 500,000 in 1990 to almost 750,000 today, or 220 million trips annually, while weekday bus ridership has stayed at a stable level of  roughly 450,000 daily trips, or 134 million trips annually. Read more…

Announcing 40 Days of Momentum!

June 13th, 2013 2 comments

Momentum CoverYou’ve been diligently telling us what you think our priorities should be and we’ve listened. We’ve been hard at work putting the final touches on Momentum: The Next Generation of Metro and Metro’s Board endorsed the plan today.

Starting Monday, over the following 40 weekdays, we’ll be rolling out the most interesting parts of the plan in daily posts here on PlanItMetro.

Monday Posts: Preparing for Tomorrow’s Region Today

Tuesday Posts: Metro’s Importance to the Region

Wednesday Posts: Metro’s Recent Accomplishments and Public Engagement

Thursday Posts: Strategies and Priority Actions to Make this Vision a Reality

Friday Posts: Metro 2025 – Seven Priority Capital Initiatives

If you want to read and download either the full Momentum plan or the Executive Summary, go right ahead. But if you want to stop back for a daily dose of Momentum, don’t be shy. If you notice something that strikes your fancy, leave us a comment.

Regional support is important to making Momentum a reality! A number of regional stakeholders have already endorsed Momentum. Please sign on and add your name to endorse Momentum and send the message that public transit is vital to the National Capital Region.




Blast from the Past: Metro Here and Now

June 5th, 2013 10 comments

We were made aware of this video entitled, “Metro: Here and Now.” Take a look:

The video contains footage on the initial operating segment of the Metrorail Red Line from Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood to Farragut North, with a strip map including Dupont Circle as well as several shots of Metro CenterSo we can surmise that Given some of the points made in the comments, the video probably dates from 1976 sometime in the period from 1975 – 1977, around the time that first rail segment opened in 1976. Aside from the interesting clothing and hairstyles of the time, one of the things that stands out is the operation of 2-car trains. This is difficult to imagine today, when 6-car and 8-car trains are the norm during all operating periods, and plans are being developed as a part of Metro’s Momentum Plan to operate 100% 8-car trains during peak periods.

Another interesting feature of the video is the landscape surrounding some of the stations. While the properties near Judiciary Square, with the DC courthouses, the National Building Museum, and Metro’s Jackson Graham Building appear mostly unchanged today, other station areas look different. At 8:44 in the video, you can see a train pulling into the (temporary) terminal station at Rhode Island Avenue. At 8:50, you can see the surface parking lots to the east of the line where a recently built joint development project now sits.

What else do you notice from the video?

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