Posts Tagged ‘Silver Line’

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

Read more…

Silver Line Ridership Patterns – Visualized!

February 23rd, 2015 1 comment

Learn about the travel patterns of Silver Line riders in rich, interactive detail with this new tool.

Click on the dashboard below to see where Silver Line rail riders are going, coming from, and by time of day and day type.  This is simply a visualization of the October 2014 rail ridership data we recently posted.  What patterns do you see? What jumps out at you?

Metrorail Data Download, October 2014

January 26th, 2015 23 comments

This new data download from October 2014 includes ridership from the five new Silver Line stations.

Over the past few years we’ve been making ridership data available for download and analysis by the online community.  We have received some requests for full origin-destination (O/D) data sets that include the new Silver Line ridership.

These data sets include ridership from October of 2014, and are available by period (AM Peak, midday, etc.) or by quarter-hour interval, for all stations including the five new Silver Line stations.  Both sets include daily averages for weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Columbus Day.

Note, the quarter-hour data file is to big to open in Microsoft Excel.

Have fun playing around with this data and let us know in the comments what you find.  Make sure you check out  the other assessments of Silver Line ridership  we’ve done.

Jan 29, 2015, 10:00 AM Update:  Files have been updated to include total and average travel times for each station pair.

Feb 02, 2015, 11:00 AM Update:  Files have been updated to separate Columbus Day from Saturdays using a new column “Holiday”.




Tysons-Area Stations Show Unique Ridership Patterns

January 19th, 2015 No comments

The four new Metrorail stations in the Tysons Corner-area of Fairfax County illustrate diversity of land uses.

Tysons Corner, the archetype of an Edge City, is a mix of office towers, apartment buildings and single-use retail in a suburban, auto-oriented setting.  As such, one would expect to see ridership at the new Tysons-area stations reflect the diverse land uses.   Ridership data (station entries) from October, 2014, illustrate this perfectly.


This station shows more AM Peak entries than any other time period, showing its station area is more like a typical “bedroom” community than the rest.  However, very strong PM Peak station entries reflect many employment sites near the station, providing a near-perfect balance between AM and PM peak entries.  As would be expected at stations with limited retail, mid-day and evening ridership is low at McLean.

Tysons Corner

This station has perhaps the most unique ridership pattern, with PM Peak ridership dwarfing all other time periods, and evening ridership higher than even AM Peak.  This station is located adjacent to two of the region’s largest shopping malls, and the ridership likely reflects both shoppers and retail employees using the station heavily throughout the day.

This station has the greatest number of entries in the PM Peak.  This pattern reflects the suburban employment center-nature of this section of Tysons Corner.  Midday and evening ridership are significantly lower than the peaks, reflecting lower numbers of transit-accessible retail.  

Spring Hill
This station is similar to McLean with the greatest number of entries in the AM Peak, reflecting large residential complexes nearby. However, this station also draws a fair number of PM Peak entries, nearly as many as in the AM, reflecting the variety of job sites within walking distance of the station.

Tysons-Area Stations versus Other Fairfax County Stations

Perhaps what’s most unique about these ridership patterns is that they differ from those of the other stations in Fairfax County. Below is a graphic showing percentage of system entries by period for Tysons-area stations versus the other stations in Fairfax County. At the other Fairfax County stations, system entries are concentrated (two thirds!) in the AM Peak. Ridership at the Tysons-area stations is more diverse, with 37% of the entries in the PM Peak and another 29% in the AM Peak.

These graphics and the data behind them are available for download from the Tableau Public site. What other patters can you find?

Where Are Silver Line Riders Going?

October 9th, 2014 8 comments

Ridership patterns on the Silver Line show that Metro’s new line is serving a truly regional market.

Now that school is back in session, the new Silver Line just completed its first full week where “normal” travel patterns are beginning to emerge. Ridership is strong, but where are these new passengers going? The diagram below shows destinations of all riders entering a Silver Line station in the week of September 8-12, 2014.

Where Are SV Riders Going_Sept 2014_typicalweekdayV3

Some observations emerge from this: Read more…

Early Ridership on the Silver Line

October 8th, 2014 7 comments

After just two months, ridership on the Silver Line is off to a solid start: Wiehle Ave is already over projections, reverse commuting is strong, and more. 

Now that school is back in session and most summer vacations over, here is an in-depth look at the week of September 8-12, 2014, when “normal” routines may have begun to emerge.

At around 15,000 entries per weekday, the Silver Line is off to a solid start.  Compared to the official projections from the 2004 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), we are achieving about 60% of the ridership projected for the end of the line’s first year:

Typical Weekday SV Ridership vs. ProjectionsWiehle station is already over opening-year projections and shows the highest ridership of all the new stations.  Tysons Corner station is strong as well, but we still have room to grow at all four stations located in the Tysons area.

Looking at ridership by time of day shows the Wiehle is a commuting powerhouse, but also that a strong reverse commute market is emerging at the other stations:

SV Ridership by 15-minute increment

  • McLean (in blue) is showing an early lead as a a “traditional” commute station, where most riders enter in the morning.
  • Tysons Corner is much more dominated by reverse commuters, and its morning rush extends into mid-morning (around 10:00am).  Evening ridership at Tysons Corners is also heavy. (More on off-peak ridership at Tysons coming soon)
  • Greensboro and Spring Hill show relatively light ridership so far, but ridership is expected to grow over time as development catches up with the new station.

What do you think?  Have you taken the Silver Line on a weekday? What was your experience?

The raw data by quarter-hour interval underlying this analysis is available in two formats: by station alone (2MB, .xlsx), and by origin-destination station (3MB, zipped tab-delimited .txt).

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Metro Responds to Bike Parking Demand at McLean Station

September 29th, 2014 1 comment

Demand for bicycle parking at the new McLean Station exceeded capacity in the Silver Line’s first few weeks, so Metro has already added more racks.

When Metro planners learned that bike racks were not prominent in the Silver Line station designs (completed by our partners in Virginia), Metro fought hard to make sure that bike racks were planned for and installed at the stations.  And that’s good news, indeed, because by August, nearly all of the bike racks were full at McLean station.  Recognizing this need, Metro added space for 20 more bicycles (10 racks) at the station.  The new racks bring the total capacity for bikes to 72 on racks. Bike lockers are still available at McLean, too.

Increasing bike access to the Silver Line is a good sign for ridership, revenue, and station access. Metro will keep an eye on utilization this fall and add capacity where needed.

Bike Parking at McLean station on the Silver Line last Thursday.

Nearly full bike racks at McLean station on the Silver Line a few weeks ago, before Metro added more racks.

Off-Peak Ridership at Tysons Corner is Strong

September 24th, 2014 6 comments

Even though Tysons Corner station on the Silver Line is only two months old, off-peak ridership is particularly strong. Saturdays are busier than weekdays, and the station stays busy past 10:00pm. 

Tysons Corner station is already serving a solid reverse commute market, but ridership is also strong during midday hours, and reaches its peak during the afternoon rush and evening hours.

Tysons Entries - first 2 weeks

Tysons Exits - first 2 weeks

Ridership is fairly well balanced throughout the day, relative to other Metrorail stations.  There’s a clear reverse commute market exiting the station during morning rush and re-entering in the evening. In the evening, however, nearly just as many people are exiting the station as are entering the stations, suggesting the commuters are mixing with other riders bound for the malls or other activities. Read more…

Silver Line’s Smiling Faces

August 18th, 2014 No comments

Metro planner captures some smiles of excited Silver Line customers on camera opening weekend.

photo 1

Baby’s first Metrorail trip on SV’s first day.

I offered up my Saturday on a recent weekend to participate in something really cool, the opening of the new Metrorail Silver Line. Metro has a program where employees can help out during special events or scheduled trackwork to guide customers through the fare vending machines or navigate bus bridges. I took advantage of this opportunity because I knew it would be something special.

During my six-hour shift at McLean, I saw a lot of happy people excited to be among the first to ride the new rail line. There were only a few times that I was moved enough to capture the moment on camera. The first is the picture above, a one-month baby with his Silver Line commemorative SmarTrip card, taking his first trip on Metro. Let’s hope it will be the first of many to come. Read more…

Fans Take Metro Home From Soccer Game

August 13th, 2014 12 comments

Over 7,000 customers took Metro home from the soccer game at Fedex Field on Tuesday night, July 29th, and some used the Silver Line!

While researching the ridership patterns of customers using Silver Line and comparing the usage on Monday, July 28th, to Tuesday, July 29th, we started to see an interesting pattern:  a lot more customers were traveling from Morgan Blvd to Wiehle-Reston East.  When we drilled down into the data, we found that these trips were occurring in the evening, well past the end of the PM Peak.  A few web searches later we discovered that a well attended soccer game had been held at FedEx Field on that night.

We then wanted to know, how many and where did they travel?  The chart below compares entries at Morgan Blvd on the 29th and contrasts it against the entries of the previous Tuesday, July 22nd.  It is pretty obvious that except for the soccer game, it was a pretty normal day at Morgan Blvd, good for comparison.  This data tells us that around 7,500 customers took Metro home from the game.  But where did they go?

The chart below shows the stations that our Morgan Blvd customers used to exit the system after the game.  There are a lot of unreadable data points on there, true, but a few really stand out, as annotated.  Most of the big spikes are end-of-line stations, including our newest, Wiehle-Reston East.  This graph also tells us that customers traveling to Wiehle-Reston East made it to their home station faster than those going to Franconia-Springfield.  In total, over 500 customers took the Silver Line home to one of the five new stations after the game.

This chart also raises the question, why were so many soccer fans going to Eastern Market, Metro Center, Foggy Bottom and Pentagon City?  Those are the earlier spikes shown on the graph.   Perhaps those are the neighborhoods where high densities of soccer fans live, or maybe the locations of good sports bars for post-game refreshment.

Did you attend the soccer game and take Metro afterwards?  Where did you go and what was your trip purpose?