Posts Tagged ‘ridership’

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.

Read more…

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…

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.

 

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?

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?

 

Estimating the Impact of the US Citizenship and Immigration Facility on Metrorail

February 24th, 2016 No comments

The Federal Government is the region’s single largest employer, and where it chooses to locate its jobs has huge implications for ridership, revenue, and the local operating subsidy.

We recently detailed why the Federal government’s location decisions matter so much to Metro – and you, the taxpayers who help support WMATA through your local taxes.  We’re always keeping an eye on moves within the region and certainly hopeful that any major moves (whether they are in the public sector or private sector) locate near Metrorail.  That’s because locating near Metrorail increases ridership, increases farebox revenue, and lowers the (your) taxpayer burden to support Metro.

Naturally, the news about GSA’s upcoming decision on the location of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services complex (USCIS) caught our eye and wonkiness.  We wanted to know about how much ridership and revenue the different options might generate.

US-Citizenship-and-Immigration-790x320

Read more…

Ridership Before and After the Blizzard of 2016

February 22nd, 2016 3 comments

What happens to ridership when a major snowstorm closes Metro?

The blizzard at the end of January dumped around two feet of snow on the Washington region over the course of a few days, making it the fourth-largest snowstorm in D.C. in over a century. To protect equipment, for the safety of employees and riders, and to focus on cleanup efforts, Metro ceased all operations for over three days. The Federal Government and schools were closed.

The chart below tells the story of the blizzard from a ridership perspective.  Actual bus and rail ridership by hour is shown as blue and red, with the orange dotted line showing a typical pattern from two weeks prior in January.

image012

Even before the snowflakes began falling on the afternoon of Friday, January 22, Metro’s ridership was impacted. That day, riders adjusted their normal routines by staying home, teleworking, or leaving early. The morning’s peak was half of normal. By Friday night, bus and rail operations ceased. No service operated Saturday or Sunday. Very limited bus and rail service was offered for a few hours on Monday, January 25 as cleanup and recovery began. Fares were not charged on rail, so we recorded very few transactions.

We recovered gradually on Tuesday and Wednesday, and nearly fully by Thursday, even as many school systems remained closed.

In the end, total ridership losses were estimated to be about 2.9 million boardings over five days, 1.6 million on rail and 1.3 million on bus. Bus took a proportionately bigger hit than rail given service restrictions from icy and unsafe road conditions.

What do you see in these numbers? Also, feel free to download the underlying data (.xlsx, 40kb) for yourself.

How Do Marylanders Use Metro?

February 2nd, 2016 2 comments

We analyzed Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroAccess ridership for all Maryland residents in response to the Maryland Legislature’s data and analysis request. Newsflash – we have customers from across the state!

Origins of Maryland Rail Riders

Origins of Maryland Rail Riders

In the 2015 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed the WMATA Utilization Study (HB300),which required the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and WMATA to analyze the utilization of Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroAccess every five years. This year’s analysis is based on the most recent Metrorail passenger survey (2012), Metrobus passenger survey (2014), and actual ridership for MetroAccess for an average day in April 2015. Below are some findings that I found most interesting. But more importantly, here is the complete 2015 Maryland HB300 WMATA Utilization Study (native pdf), which includes all the links to the underlying survey data, interactive charts, and analysis.

  • 82 percent of Metrorail trips by Montgomery County residents are destined for Washington DC in the morning on a typical weekday;
  • 71 percent of Metrobus trips in the AM peak period made by Prince George’s County residents are for work purposes on a typical weekday;
  • 3.3 percent of all trips across all Metro services on a typical weekday are taken by Maryland residents from Frederick, Charles, Calvert, Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties and Baltimore City;
  • 35 percent of other Maryland residents on Metrorail access via commuter rail (MARC) and Amtrak; and
  • 17,600 residents of the District and Virginia reverse-commute into Maryland on Metrorail and bus each morning on a typical weekday (about 5 percent of total system ridership)

Any other nuggets that you found from analyzing the data? Ideas for other ways to graphically represent the findings?

Metro Celebrates Permanent Restoration of Transit Benefit

February 1st, 2016 1 comment

After years of analysis, advocacy and lobbying, Congress has restored the transit commuter benefit to match the parking benefit, helping Metro, the region and the nation.

The employer transportation benefit for transit and vanpools has fluctuated a lot in recent years. In February of 2009, it was increased from $120 to $230, matching the parking benefit.  Almost three years later, in January of 2012 it was slashed to $125 only to be raised to $245 the following year.  After only a year, it was slashed again, this time to $130 where it stayed for two full years.  In January of this year, it was raised to $255 to permanently match the parking benefit.  Metro Board of Directors member Tom Bulgeran outspoken advocate for the transit benefit —  played a vital role in ensuring its restoration to match the parking benefit.  Thanks, Tom!

History of Employer Transportation Benefits, Monthly Limits. Data from Wikipedia.

History of Employer Transportation Benefits, Monthly Limits. Data from Wikipedia.

The benefit amount wasn’t the only thing that has been changing.  In 2010, the Metro implemented a series of new IRS rules for how the transit benefit could be used.  For example, on smart media the transit benefit dollars had to be stored in a separate “purse” that could only be use for transit fares and not for parking costs at park-and-ride facilities.  Employers also began asking employees to specify exactly how much transit fare was needed each month, instead of setting one amount and accruing benefits for trips untaken.  Perhaps most importantly, a new rule stated that those unused dollars in this transit-only purse were to be “clawed back” at the end of each month. Read more…

Right Underneath our Feet – How Planning, Zoning, and Development Influence Metrorail Ridership

January 12th, 2016 4 comments

Metrorail ridership is heavily-determined by station-area land use patterns, so attention to land use as a transportation strategy will be important to sustaining Metrorail’s long-term ridership growth.

There has been a tremendous amount of attention recently paid to Metrorail’s ridership trends.  While history tells us that the current ridership snapshot – which shows that ridership has essentially flatlined – is quite normal given the cyclic nature of ridership growth, Metro’s Office of Planning has been exploring why certain station areas and rail segments have seen ridership gains during the downturn, while other station areas and segments have seen losses.

Passenger Miles Traveled by Trip Origin at Each Metrorail Station, AM Pea, Full-Fare Riders with no Transit Benefits. One of the inputs from this study.

Passenger Miles Traveled by Trip Origin at Each Metrorail Station, AM Pea, Full-Fare Riders with no Transit Benefits. One of the inputs from this study.

The questions we sought answers to included, for instance:

  • Why is it that while system-wide ridership declined last year, we saw ridership gains at stations with lots of transit-oriented development, such as NoMA, Columbia Heights, and Navy Yard-Ballpark?
  • How much of an impact does transit-oriented development have on overall ridership, and can that impact be measured, both in terms of new ridership as well as in terms of net new farebox revenue?
  • With so many ways to get around – including walking and biking and Uber and Lyft – and gas prices at near historic lows, how does a Metorail trip compare to other ways of getting around in terms of overall competitiveness?
  • Does the location of a transit oriented development project matter in terms of how much ridership it generates?  Does that vary by the type of project (i.e. office, retail, residential, etc)

Read more…