TAG Meeting #8: Regional Transit System Plan Phase I Review

March 12th, 2012

Metro is developing the Regional Transit System Plan (RTSP), a vision of a sustainable, integrated, multimodal, regional transit network for 2040.  Metro staff have recently completed the first phase, and presented a summary to the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) in January.  Phase II is underway, and the proposed approach and initial scenarios to evaluate were also presented to the TAG.

During the initial phase, Metro staff assessed future growth trends and travel-demand patterns throughout the region for the forecast year 2040.  Regional growth, reported by MWCOG Cooperative Forecasts Round 7.2a, shows significant population, household, and employment growth over the next several decades.  This growth has a direct impact on travel patterns around the region.  As a part of Phase I work, Metro staff identified the implications this has for transit.

Forecasts show that with the implementation of the projects included in the 2009 financially constrained long-range plan (CLRP) regional transit trips will grow by 30% by 2040.  Although the regional program of projects in the CLRP results in a transit mode share remaining at only 4% of total person trips, the region will see more than 350,000 new weekday transit trips.  Given the anticipated growth and dispersion of travel, the RTSP focuses on the following long-range issues:

  • Increasing the capacity of the system to serve the region’s employment core;
  • Improving multimodal access to high quality transit;
  • Improving the efficiency and interoperability of the region’s surface transit;
  • Improving connections to Regional Activity Centers;

Working collaboratively with the TAG, Metro staff identified potential transit improvements that could address these issues.  Twenty strategies were developed and evaluated to determine the impacts each could have on future travel throughout the region.

Potential operator-neutral improvements include the following strategies:

  • New rail lines through the core;
  • In-fill stations and pedestrian connections;
  • New park-and-ride lots with shuttle service to rail stations;
  • Enhanced commuter-rail service and line extensions;
  • Surface-transit (bus, streetcar and light-rail transit) enhancements and line extensions;
  • Metrorail extensions to Regional Activity Centers.

The strategies were evaluated in terms of their ability to serve the region’s employment core, improve access to transit, improve the efficiency and interoperability of surface transit, and provide connections to and between Regional Activity Centers.  Strategies tended to address some key long-range issues, but no single strategy could address them all.

In Phase II, strategies will be combined into scenarios so that multiple objectives may be met, and each of the long-range issues identified in Phase I can be addressed, leading to the development of a recommended regional transit system plan.

What strategies would you put together to address the region’s long range issues?

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  1. March 12th, 2012 at 20:07 | #1

    This is an exciting study! I just want to make a few comments on details.

    1) The MWCOG demographic forecasts are essentially a projection of past trends and local master plans. Master plans are political documents written to create a legal basis for future negotiations over permission to build and are only tangentially related to anyone’s intention or expectation of what the future will bring. Land is zoned for suburban-style development and when TOD is ready to go forward it is rezoned. Thus master plans are not a realistic basis for long-range planning. When MDOT’s consultants (Wilbur Smith) did the study to determine tolls on the ICC for a 2030 scenario, they adjusted the MWCOG projections to add more growth in the core and less on the fringe, and this study should do the same.

    2) A Red Line extension past Shady Grove should terminate at Germantown Town Center rather than Metropolitan Grove. The potential ridership from bus transfers in Germantown far exceeds that from transfers from MARC and the CCT, certainly with current service patterns and very likely even with all-day MARC service. The extension can be built at relatively low cost in the I-370/270 right of way – it can be an express service stopping only at Metropolitan Grove because intermediate stops will be served by the CCT and BRT/LRT on Route 355.

    3) All overpasses on US 29 are engineered to allow light rail to pass through in the median. Presumably heavy rail can work too – it should have less demanding clearances. Why terminate lines at Cherry Hill Road rather than Burtonsville?

  2. March 17th, 2012 at 17:20 | #2


    1. Separated Yellow Line along 10th St.

    2. Interline 1: Courthouse to Arlington Cemetery. New line (Turquoise? Pink?) running between Dulles Airport and Franconia-Springfield on the same schedule as the Blue Line through Rosslyn.

    3. Infill station at Bluestone-Quaker Lane (Eisenhower Ave. Valley).

    4. MARC extension to Alexandria (vice Crystal City). Additional VRE frequencies at least along the Manassas Line, together with the planned extension to Gainesville.

    5. Purple Line extension between New Carrollton and Alexandria.

    6. Express buses (quasi-BRT) along planned I-95 HOT lanes between Stafford and Franconia-Springfield.

    7. PCN route along VA236 between GMU and Alexandria King St. Station upgraded to near-BRT (Alexandria is planning dedicated lane, off-board payment, TSP, queuejump lanes on it’s section of this route).


    The notion here is to increase the capacity on Metrorail from the south into the District using the Yellow and Green Lines and provide additional feeders into those upgraded capacity lines. In addition, it connects the Northern Virginia RACs.

    The Separated Yellow Line along 10th St. is the cheapest way of increasing Metrorail capacity from the south into the District. But the Rosslyn tunnel remains at capacity. By interlining at Rosslyn, one is able to use the excess capacity south of Rosslyn to run trains within Northern Virginia connecting the Dulles Corridor, Reston, Tysons, the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, The Pentagon and south Arlington, Alexandria and Springfield. As a byproduct, one gets Metrorail connectivity between the two airports.

    The Purple Line extension provides new feeders to both the Green Line at Branch Ave and the three lines at Alexandria.

    The I-95 HOT lanes quasi-BRT feeds the three lines at Franconia-Springfield. The upgraded VA236 PCN feeds the three lines at Alexandria.

    Since there will now be three lines passing the site of the Eisenhower Ave. Valley infill station (Blue, Yellow2 and the new Dulles-Franconia-Springfield Line), filling in that long gap makes sense. Alexandria would have to plan to upzone the surrounding area, some of which is currently zoned industrial.

    Since Alexandria becomes a transit center, extending MARC to it increases its value.

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