Posts Tagged ‘studies’

Beyond Borders – Acting Regionally to Create a Financially-Sustainable Transit System (Part One)

November 9th, 2015 No comments

What if taxpayers could avoid spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on Metro’s operating subsidy? Better yet – what if Metro could pay for itself and have enough left over to fund local transportation projects? What if better using the transit system we already have could help us achieve this?  This isn’t just wishful thinking – it is possible.

Logo_WMATA_CWG_001 black-01(This is the first post in a series of posts that assess applying land use as a transportation strategy)

Recently some of the Washington region’s prominent leaders issued a call to action for this region to cease competing against itself if it is to secure its economic future.  Their courageous statement coincided with findings from WMATA’s Office of Planning that actually put a price tag on that promise.  And it’s a doozy.  In case you missed it, at the Coalition for Smarter Growth‘s Smart Growth Social recently, Shyam Kannan, Metro’s Managing Director of Planning, gave a presentation on the impact of regional cooperation on the region’s finances and specifically, what this could mean for Metro and its ridership, operating subsidy, funding partners, and taxpayers.

What he presented is the second half of ConnectGreaterWashington (CGW).  As a reminder, the first part of CGW was a long range plan that identified infrastructure expansion needs across all transit operators in the region. It assumed that we would grow as the local jurisdictions have estimated in the cooperative forecast. This second part asks a different question.  It challenges us to make do with the transportation system we have already built. Can the region’s growth, rather than necessitate billions of dollars in new infrastructure, be distributed differently to better utilize the roadway and transit systems we already have? What would that mean to the region, its finances, and to Metro’s operating subsidies that its funding partners pay annually?

So the study contemplates, compares, and contrasts two distinct paths.  Grow the way we have been growing and build our way out of congestion.  Or choose to grow around our existing infrastructure and use it to its maximum capacity.  In the coming weeks, we will be posting the detailed analysis here on PlanItMetro. It’s lengthy and wonky, so be prepared for a series of in-depth posts. Read more…

Building a Blueprint for a Better Bus Network

November 4th, 2015 2 comments

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…

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Transit Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond: There’s More to It Than Metrorail

July 6th, 2015 1 comment

In part one of this series, Metro Planners led a session at StreetsCamp  Saturday June 20, 2015 to talk with transit advocates about other possibilities beyond Metrorail to increase transit use, reach, and access.

I want Metro to...

Politicians and citizens always ask for more Metrorail, but why should transit continue to chase land use decisions? Metro Planners Allison Davis and Kristin Haldeman talked to transit advocates and urbanists at StreetsCamp last Saturday to provide approaches that can help the transit we have today reach more people and be more cost-effective without requiring more Metrorail (pdf). The major take-aways for advocates and urbanists were to advocate for:

(1)    Local decision makers to monetize full life‐cycle cost of land use options;

(2)    Access projects that create comfortable (i.e. desirable) paths for pedestrians and bicyclists; and

(3)    Local jurisdictions to add transit signal priority, queue jumps, and bus lanes

Why these three specifically? Read more…

Solving the Region’s Congestion Woes – One Step at a Time (Part 2 of 3)

March 24th, 2014 4 comments

Improving pedestrian connectivity takes cars off the road at a formidable clip – rivaling the power of all of the region’s planned roadway additions and “last mile” transit connections.  Cheaply and quickly. 

This post is part two of a three-part series.

The data is finally in, and we now know that walkable station areas result in fewer motorized trips, fewer miles driven, fewer cars owned, and fewer hours spent traveling. And when we improve the pedestrian and bicycle access and connectivity to Metrorail station areas, ridership goes up, putting a major dent in congestion by taking trips off the roadways. Earlier, we discussed what it means to build walkable station areas and research shows the tremendous benefits to the region of making this a priority.

First, our data confirms that when walking access to transit is improved, transit ridership goes up – way up. In the 2040 Regional Transit System Plan (RTSP), we stress tested TPB’s transportation model to improve walkability to the transit network and saw huge increases in transit linked trips.  These trips go up by about 10% region-wide and we get an increase in transit mode share for all regional trips by 0.5%.  That’s over and above the roughly one percent increase in mode share we anticipate occurring as a result of building the entirety of the CLRP, an impact about half that of constructing all of that transit.

Source: Regional Transit System Plan

Source: Regional Transit System Plan

Read more…

Study of Metrobus Operations in Multimodal Corridors Completed

March 4th, 2014 4 comments

New Metro study evaluates best practices for the coordination of bus service with new, street-running rail services.

What's old is new again! Capital Transit vehicles sharing the road  in 1947.

What’s old is new again! Capital Transit vehicles sharing the road in 1947.

In the Washington region, bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail transit (LRT) and streetcar (SC) systems are currently under study or construction on major transit corridors in every jurisdiction.  Each is being planned by a different agency with different sets of goals and aspirations. Most of these corridors currently are already served by Metrobus and have heavy bus ridership.  All of these projects can leave a bus planner wondering how all of these modes will work together and with the existing Metrobus system.

Some existing riders will be fully served by the new service; however, many others will require a combination of existing bus service and the new fixed route transit to reach their final destinations.  As transit professionals, the ability for our customers to navigate seamlessly though the region via transit, regardless of the mode or operator, is our ultimate goal.   Towards that end, we have been working on a set of guidelines for the operations planning of buses and new modes traveling in the same corridors. Read more…

More than Metrorail: The Region’s Most Important High-Capacity Surface Transit Corridors

December 19th, 2013 14 comments

In parallel with the proposed 2040 Metrorail network, we have identified 25 regionally significant corridors that merit high-capacity surface transit by 2040. Depending on the corridor, high-capacity surface transit can be provided more efficiently and effectively by modes other than Metrorail.

The best transit systems in the world are comprised of large networks served by multiple modes. In the National Capital Region, due to the growth and dispersal of activity centers, the high demand placed on Metrorail, and the realities of transit funding, expanding the transit network needs to occur by expanding transit on the region’s roads and highways not just by Metrorail. Metrorail is not and cannot be the best mode for every corridor because the vast majority of corridors do not have the land use, density and ridership to support it.

But don’t despair! There are plenty of other high-capacity modes such as bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail (LRT), streetcar, and enhanced bus that can provide:

  • high-frequency;
  • all day service;
  • large, comfortable vehicles; and
  • lower capital and operating costs than Metrorail.

Regionally Significant High Capacity Surface Transit Corridors as part of 2040 Regional Transit System Plan

Regionally Significant High-Capacity Surface Transit Corridors as part of 2040 Regional Transit System Plan

Read more…

Significant Property Tax Values Generated near Metro Stations

December 12th, 2013 No comments

New buildings right near Metrorail stations are 23-30% more valuable than buildings farther away, showing that our funding partners can generate significant property tax revenues from Metro.

A recent study shows that Metrorail stations in Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor are powerful anchors for economic development and value. The report, by the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, showcases the substantial value the region can realize with good transit-oriented development policies near stations. Among the report’s findings:

Offices in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor right near Metro command higher rents.

Offices in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor right near Metro command higher rents. Source: Cushman & Wakefield via  Click for original context.

  • Being able to walk to Metro is worth a lot. New office buildings within 500 feet of a station in Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor are earning a 30% premium over buildings under construction just a quarter-mile away. For apartment buildings, the premium is 23%. No wonder walk access to Metrorail is on the rise, especially from those close by the station!
  • 92% of over 20 million square feet of office space under construction in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor is within a quarter mile of a Metrorail station.
  • Conversely, new office buildings built farther than a quarter-mile from Metro are worth 18% less in rent.

These “rail premiums” of 23-30% are significantly higher than the 7-9% we found in our “Business Case for Transit” study, because of several significant differences in methodology. We looked at the assessed value, not the market/rental rate of property. Also, we looked at all properties in the region, rather than just those under construction in one corridor.

Although the presence of Metrorail creates this value premium near stations, Metro does not receive any of these revenues directly, even though continued rebuilding and improvements are needed to address state of good repair and relieve capacity issues in the corridor.

Nevertheless, this report certainly confirms that Metrorail increases property tax revenues, and shows just how big that value can be in certain markets.

Proposed 2040 Metrorail Network

December 5th, 2013 89 comments

Step right up and check out the proposed 2040 core Metrorail configuration with new Blue and Yellow Lines and a third line in Virginia!

Proposed 2040 Metrorail Core Configuration

Proposed 2040 Metrorail Core Configuration

Proposed 2040 Metrorail Network

Proposed 2040 Metrorail Network

What does this network do? The proposed rail network shown above is expected to reduce future crowding on Metrorail, provide enough capacity for future development, and expand the reach of transit in the region, especially to regional activity centers.

Why are we proposing it? This rail network is part of the 2040 Regional Transit System Plan (RTSP). Its purpose is to develop the rail and surface transit network for 2040 that meets the needs of the growing Washington DC region.

What else have we considered? About a month ago, we posted about some of the possible long-range changes to the Metrorail core that we are considering as part of the RTSP. We analyzed four different core configurations, gathered your comments, and the final configuration for the core is shown above. As many of you commented, it is a combination of two of the scenarios (Scenarios B and C).

Next Steps: The next and final step for the RTSP is to use this configuration, along with the high capacity surface corridors, to conduct a final round of analysis. The output will provide us with information on ridership, mode share, levels of crowding, transfers, etc. and ultimately a final network for 2040.

Let us know what you think!

A few extra notes:

(1) The Metrorail network shown in this post will be layered with an extensive high capacity surface transit network to expand transit and meet the needs of employment and population growth in the region.

(2) For the plan to have validity and acceptability across the region and within the federal planning process, it is based on the region’s adopted cooperative land use forecast for 2040. We used the Aspirations Land Use scenario to stress test the core of the system, but ultimately the plan needs to start with the region’s adopted land use. As follow on work to this plan, we will be testing different land uses to see what else we can learn to improve long-range plans.

(3) All of the lines shown, as well as all of the high capacity surface transit corridors, will need corridor studies, alternatives analyses, and full engineering studies. This cannot be done at a regional level, but would need to happen on a project by project, line by line level. So, while we are showing a new Blue Line on M Street, it very well could be on N or P Streets.

RTSP Evaluating and Prioritizing Corridors for High Capacity Transit: Dispatch from TAG Meeting #10

October 4th, 2013 1 comment

This is the second post in a two-part series based Logo_WMATA_RTSP_001 blackon content from the tenth meeting with the Regional Transit System Plan (RTSP) Technical Advisory Group (TAG) that was held in July. The first post focused on our analysis of new Metrorail lines in the core and Virginia. This post is about our approach to identify regionally significant corridors for high capacity transit. 

By 2040, multiple regionally significant travel corridors will need high capacity, high frequency transit to connect people and jobs outside of the core.

As part of the RTSP, we will identify regionally significant corridors where transit priority infrastructure is needed to provide high capacity transit. At the TAG meeting, Metro Planning staff presented a methodology to identify, evaluate, and prioritize these regionally significant corridors. The methodology has evolved since the July meeting and is described below. The actual evaluation and prioritization is still in process.

WMATA RTSP II Corridors Segments 082813

Corridors identified for evaluation for high capacity transit.


Since the TAG meeting, we have also conducted one-on-one meetings with each jurisdiction and agency in the RTSP study area to review and gather feedback on the full set of corridors that will be evaluated. Approximately 70 corridors have been identified from:

Read more…

RTSP Analyzing New Metrorail Lines in the Core and Virginia: Dispatch from TAG Meeting #10

October 3rd, 2013 39 comments

This is the first post in a two-part series based Logo_WMATA_RTSP_001 blackon content from the tenth meeting with the Regional Transit System Plan (RTSP) Technical Advisory Group (TAG) that was held in July. This post will focus on our analysis of Metrorail capacity and crowding, while the second post will focus on identifying and prioritizing regionally significant surface transit corridors.

By 2040, ridership and crowding levels on Metrorail indicate the need for a new Blue Line and new Yellow line in the system’s core and a third line in Virginia.

At the time of our last post, we had run an initial round of four scenarios that sought to resolve regional mobility issues. We gathered a lot of information from the results, but realized that we needed to run a second round of scenarios focused almost entirely on Metrorail. Using MWCOG’s Cooperative Forecast Round 8.1 land use, which has been adopted by the region, and MWCOG’s Aspirations land use, which shifts more jobs and households into the regional activity centers, the maps below clearly demonstrate crowded conditions in 2040. The Base Network shown in these maps includes 100 percent eight-car trains and all the CLRP projects. Crowded conditions exist on the Orange Line west of Rosslyn, on the Yellow and Green Lines south of L’Enfant Plaza, and on the Silver Line west of Tysons. Because the results indicated that Metro would be severely crowded EVEN if we run the longest possible trains (eight-car trains), we wanted to explore other long-term solutions.


Crowding on Metrorail by 2040, even with the longest possible (eight-car) trains. Base Network AM Peak, Round 8.1 Cooperative Forecast


Crowding on Metrorail in 2040 even with the longest possible (eight-car) trains, Base Network AM Peak, Aspirations Land Use

Read more…