Archive for February, 2011

Union Station Metrorail Access and Capacity Study

February 22nd, 2011 2 comments

In October, we published a post about the ongoing Union Station Metrorail Access and Capacity Study, and included a pedestrian simulation showing the existing conditions at the Union Station Metrorail station’s north mezzanine.  The study has been completed, and the proposed access and capacity improvements and resultant station performance are described below

Currently, passengers traveling through the north mezzanine experience congestion on a daily basis.   Imagine what would happen at the north mezzanine in the next 20 years, once Union Station’s local and intercity travel facilities have been expanded (including the planned streetcar terminating at 1st and H Streets NE) and the millions of square feet of planned development in the surrounding areas have been completed. Our analysis shows that pedestrian volume through the north mezzanine will increase by 60%.

The biggest challenge faced by Metro during this study was to identify feasible improvements that would provide enough capacity for all users while ensuring compatibility with building functions and historical characteristics.  Metro worked with DDOT and Union Station stakeholders to develop two improvement alternatives: Partial Build and Full Build.  These alternatives are illustrated in the animated graphic below, which rotates between existing conditions, partial build and full build every 15 seconds. Read more…

Metrorail Late Night Usage Patterns

February 17th, 2011 1 comment
Late Night OD Map by SuperZone

The Metro board recently received a staff presentation containing some options for narrowing the projected gap in the fiscal year 2012 budget.  One of these options, the elimination of weekend late-night service, garnered a lot of attention in the media and on the local transit blogs. A lot of the discussion centered around understanding who these passengers are (late night revelers, night shift workers), where they’re starting their trips and where they’re ending them.   Others discussed what other transit alternatives might be viable replacements for Metrorail late-night service.

One local blog, Greater Greater Washington, posted a great diagram generated by one of their contributors that illustrates total station volumes for late night trips and helps see whether a station is an origin station, a destination station, or in the middle.  The map does a wonderful job of illustrating origins, destinations and volumes, but leaves one question unanswered:  what sorts of trips are actually being made?

Read more…

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RTSP Rail Enhancement Strategy: Interline Connections and Station Improvements

February 16th, 2011 7 comments

The purpose of this strategy is to allow different rail lines to operate on the same track.  This type of operation can help reduce capacity constraint on some lines and provide new connections between existing Metrorail lines.

The four interline connections proposed include:

1) Connect Orange and Blue at Rosslyn
2) Connect Yellow and Blue at Pentagon
3) Connect Yellow and Green near L’Enfant Plaza
4) Connect Orange and Silver near West Falls Church

Some benefits of these interline connections include:

  1. Orange/Silver-Blue inter-lining south of Rosslyn to allow a Silver Line running between the two airports
    1. BENEFIT: Faster trip to Ballston, Tysons and airports within Virginia
  2. Blue-Yellow inter-lining north of Pentagon to allow I-66 corridor rail lines going through 14th Street Bridge
    1. BENEFIT: Utilize throughput capacity on 14th Street Bridge
  3. Yellow-Green inter-lining south of L’Enfant Plaza to allow a Yellow Line split to Anacostia/Navy Yard
    1. BENEFIT:  Allow direct access between Anacostia and southern Maryland to job sites in southern Arlington and the City of Alexandria.

Additionally, this strategy will explore the benefits of making improvements to several of the system’s core stations:

  1. Pedestrian tunnel between Farragut North and Farragut West;
  2. Pedestrian tunnel between Metro Center and Gallery Place;
  3. Increase amount of vertical capacity at Union Station;
  4. Increase transfer capacity at the three core transfer stations:  Metro Center, Gallery Place and L’Enfant Plaza
Categories: Strategies Tags: , , , ,

Can the Regional Transit System Plan Move the “Region Forward”

February 2nd, 2011 3 comments

Will the regional transit system be up to the challenge of meeting the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) Vision’s objectives and the Greater Washington 2050 Coalition Region Forward’s targets, especially for a higher transit mode share in 2040?

Image from

In early 2010, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments endorsed Region Forward.  It includes goals, objectives and targets for the metropolitan area in 2050, relating to accessibility, sustainability, prosperity and livability. Transportation is one of nine categories among its goals, and the transportation targets draw heavily from the TPB Vision that was adopted in 1998. The Regional Transit System Plan (RTSP) is intended to help develop strategies to achieve Region Forward’s goals, objectives and targets. Several of these targets are focused on transit, and are compatible with the goals of the RTSP. What follows is a listing of Region Forward’s transit-focused goals, and how a future including an implemented RTSP may help achieve them.

Priority for management, performance, maintenance, and safety

This target echoes an objective in the TPB Vision and is intended to insure that investment in existing transportation infrastructure continues as a top priority. For example, Virginia’s funding for roads follows this philosophy, by funding road maintenance and operations off the top of revenues. That philosophy would be advantageous for transit, too, so that investments in new infrastructure wouldn’t result in disinvestment in the existing bus and rail infrastructure that continues to be needed.

RTSP is evaluating an “Enhanced Surface Transit” strategy, in which the  network of 24 Metrobus Priority Corridors (PCN’s) are enhanced with bus priority treatments, intended to increase performance of surface transit service in the region while reducing overall operating costs. The RTSP will also look into new surface transit connections with an eye towards interoperability, which would help reduce costs of managing and maintaining different new light rail and streetcar systems. Read more…