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.
Last fall we let you know about changes we proposed on the bus routes serving Hunting Point and the Mount Vernon Avenue/Jefferson Davis Highway corridor. We developed the original proposal based on recommendations that emerged from a comprehensive study conducted on Routes 10A, 10B, and 10E in 2013. In the weeks leading up to our September public hearings as well as in oral and written testimony given at those hearings we received numerous comments and opinions on the options we presented. We incorporated that feedback into an adjusted proposal and presented it to Metro’s Board of Directors for approval.
On Sunday, March 30, 2014, Metro will implement these changes that will impact Metrobus routes 9E, 10A, and 10E. We believe riders will benefit from faster travel times and improved connections between Alexandria, Crystal City and Rosslyn.
What these changes mean for you:
Route 10A riders:
During the a.m. peak period northbound (from Hunting Point) and the p.m. peak period southbound (to Hunting Point), Route 10R will replace 10A service. Route 10R will provide a direct connection between Crystal City and Rosslyn bypassing the Pentagon. Existing 10A passengers traveling to the Pentagon may take a Route 10E bus or transfer to Metrorail at Braddock Road Station. These changes do not impact off-peak, weekend, a.m. peak period southbound (from the Pentagon) or p.m. peak period northbound (to the Pentagon) 10A service. Read more…
Adding special types of tracks at key locations in the system will provide more flexibility to the overall system.
Pocket tracks: allow trains to turn back in the direction from which they came (short-lining), gap trains to be stored until placed in revenue service, and the staging of track equipment until nighttime trackwork
Crossovers: allow trains to single track during incidents or nighttime trackwork
Purpose and Need
The Metrorail system includes various single- and double-crossovers and additional ones will shorten the distance of single tracking. The system also has seven mid-route turnbacks, each of which is configured to operate as a third or “pocket” track capable of storing an eight-car train. To improve efficiency and reduce operating costs, certain lines could utilize a pocket track for a “short-lining” turnback to provide improved service to the highest-demand segments of the line. Other new pocket tracks would allow for storage of gap trains, disabled trains and track equipment. Read more…
Momentum’s outreach was unprecedented. Metro staff heard from almost 12,000 stakeholders during the process, which helped inform our understanding of the public’s short- and long-term needs. Below is a high-level summary of the most commonly-held viewpoints across region:
Make no small plans for Metro;
Recognize Metro is critical to the region’s future;
A next generation communications system would expand current communications infrastructure to provide an integrated one-stop communications hub for the region’s transit customers. Proposed improvements will capitalize on efforts already underway to improve the functionality of the rail control software. They include the next generation of the Passenger Information Display System (PIDS), new public address systems, improved station signage, and equipping station managers with mobile devices. Bus and train information will also be integrated, with real-time information displays to well-used bus stops.
Adding new Blue Line connections seeks to restore train frequencies to every six minutes during the peak period between Pentagon and Rosslyn stations, resulting in less waiting time and crowding for Blue Line riders in Northern Virginia. Once the Silver Line opens, the Blue Line service will operate every 12-14 minutes as opposed to the previous six minutes. The feasibility analysis is currently underway and has identified two potential alternatives to create new connections:
Alternative 1: Add rail track that would create a new connection between the Blue and Orange/Silver Lines, or
Alternative 2: A second Rosslyn Station for a new Blue Line with an underground passageway to the existing Rosslyn station, which would connect to the Orange/Silver Lines with a pedestrian tunnel.
Metro is the nation’s most accessible large transit system. All 86 Metrorail stations have elevators and the new 7000-series rail cars are designed to maximize accessibility. Metrobus operates 1,100 fully accessible buses, most of which are low-floor and ramp-equipped and all of which have automated stop announcements. Numerous other changes have been made by Metro to maximize usability so that many customers with disabilities are able to use Metrobus and Metrorail for some of their travel. However, inadequacies such as the lack of curb cuts, sidewalks and traffic signals impact disabled customers’ ability to use Metrorail and Metrobus. MetroAccess serves these trips and others and presently provides about two million trips per year.
Metro regularly exports all of the data from our Trip Planner into a separate GTFS file which we share with COG/TPB for updating regional transit schedules in their travel demand model. We are working to make this file publicly available. In the mean time, we were able to share it with STLTransit who kindly created the updated fully regional visualization of Washington area transit, embedded above.
As with last time, this visualization is best viewed full-screen and in HD mode.
Some interesting things to note:
Frederick County TransIT service use of timed transfers (or pulse points) at transit centers is very noticeable.
MARC and VRE commuter rail are illustrated as white tadpoles, not to be confused with the colored tadpoles representing Metrorail service.
The expansiveness of the commuter rail network becomes very apparent, as those white tadpoles shoot towards the edges of the map to the northeast, northwest and south.
STLTransit apparently cranks out one or two visualizations of a city or regional transit system every few days. Check out their YouTube channel and subscribe.