Archive for May, 2014

Energy Efficient Station Chiller Upgrades

May 15th, 2014 2 comments

Chiller Plant at Navy Yard-Ballpark

Chiller Plant at Navy Yard-Ballpark

Each year as warmer weather approaches, Metro shifts priority from snow and ice removal to the cooling of Metrorail stations. In May, chiller plants throughout the Authority are started up, feeding chilled water to air conditioning equipment located in the stations. Though the design of the Metrorail system makes true air conditioning impossible, a reduction of station air temperatures is intended to provide some comfort while waiting for your train.

Some stations share chillers, such as Court House and Clarendon on the Orange Line, while other larger stations have two chillers, such as L’Enfant Plaza. Typical system sizes are around 350 tons. This is not a measure of the systems weight; instead chiller performance is defined in terms of tons of cooling, where one ton of cooling is equal to the amount of heat absorbed by one ton of ice melting in one day.

As part of Metro’s sustainability efforts, upgrades to chiller plant equipment consists of replacing old systems that have reached or exceeded their anticipated life with more modern, energy-efficient units. The new chillers feature oil-free operation, variable-speed magnetic-bearing compressors, and variable-frequency drives.

Two such chiller plant replacements were installed last year serving U Street and Navy Yard-Ballpark stations. With their smaller footprint, lower vibration, and operating sound levels, the units are proving not only more cost efficient but are also providing an overall improvement to operations. The result of the modernization is savings estimated at $15,000 annually per plant in energy costs alone. Additionally, when coupled with related upgrades to electronic controls and water treatment systems being piloted, the savings are expected to be increased in terms of reductions in both operating cost and water consumption. In 2014, chiller upgrades are proposed for Forest Glen, Wheaton, Crystal City, and Potomac Ave stations.

To reduce operating costs and improve efficiency, Metro’s facilities and fleet are actively striving to become more energy efficient. As part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative, the Authority has set a target of a 15% reduction in authority-wide energy use per vehicle mile by 2025.

This post forms part of a series featuring content from Metro’s Sustainability Agenda, part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.

How Do Different Modes Compare?

May 14th, 2014 6 comments

The region either already has or is planning for a variety of different modes. How do they compare? The Silver Line will soon open as a Metrorail line. Later this year, a streetcar will be operating on H Street, NE with others planned for Columbia Pike in Arlington and the District. Arlington and Alexandria are jointly building a bus rapid transit (BRT) line between Crystal City and Potomac Yard. Once funding is finalized, Maryland will build the Purple Line and light rail transit (LRT) will connect New Carrollton and Bethesda. This is all in addition to the region’s existing commuter rail, commuter bus, Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroExtra services. The region is not only expanding transit services, but it also expanding the types of transit modes that will operate. At long last, instead of talking about Portland (streetcar), Jersey City (light rail), or Cleveland (bus rapid transit), we’ll be able to point directly to services and infrastructure in our backyard or take a trip and experience the pros and cons of these modes for ourselves.

So how do the different modes compare? What kind of purposes does each serve? There are many external factors and trade-offs that influence how agencies and jurisdictions select which mode to implement.  As we see from the ongoing debates in jurisdictions across the region between LRT and BRT or streetcar and enhanced bus, there is not always one perfect choice. However, an array of transit and land use measures can provide context to the conversation. As part of ConnectGreaterWashington: The 2040 Regional Transit System Plan, we developed the below table to compare commuter rail, commuter bus, heavy rail, light rail, streetcar, bus rapid transit, and enhanced bus across land use intensity (households and employment), vehicle capacity, stop spacing, trip length, and capital and operating costs.

What do you think? Does this information better inform the rail vs bus debate? What other information would provide more clarity on what modes work where?

Comparison of High-Capacity Transit Modes

Comparison of High-Capacity Transit Modes

 

Bike to Work Day 5/16: Three Pitstops at Metrorail Stations

May 13th, 2014 No comments

BTWD_2014_metroBike to Work Day is Friday, May 16th, and this year Metro is hosting three pitstops at Metrorail stations.  Bike to Metro and Metro to Work! Register now.

If biking all the way to work sounds a bit daunting this year, Bike to Metro and Metro to Work! Leave your bike at a Metrorail station or a bus stop.

Metro is hosting three pitstops at Metrorail stations, where we’ll be distributing t-shirts, maps, information about parking your bike, bikes on bus, locker rentals, and of course – free goodies.   In addition, Metro Transit Police will be at all three pitstops distributing free U-locks to cyclists who register their bikes.  We’ll even have a “bike rack demonstration” bus so you can try using the bike rack on buses.

Register now at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org, and enter your pitstop as one of the stations above!

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

Track Infrastucture – Sustainable Stats for State of Good Repair

May 8th, 2014 No comments

Rail Fabrication Process at ArcelorMittal, Steelton

Rail Fabrication Process at ArcelorMittal, Steelton – Image Courtesy of ArcelorMittal

On a daily basis the Metrorail track infrastructure system is subject to the stress and strain of operational and climatic variations. Combining a proactive maintenance program with the latest in rail materials and technology, Metro upholds a commitment to the highest levels of system-wide safety, passenger comfort, operational sustainability, and reliability. System maintenance under the Federal Transit Administration State of Good Repair program has allowed Metro to maintain its commitment to an aggressive “fix it first” policy that features:

“New” Rail is 100% recycled steel – For all replacement rails Metro uses a premium head-hardened rail made from 100% recycled steel. These rails are the highest possible quality available and have the longest possible service life. The rail is fabricated using a controlled water jet system that evenly dissipates heat during the fabrication process to create deep, head-hardened layers through each rail.

Continuously Welded Rail increases system efficiency– Using a state-of-the-art flash-butt welding system Metro has a system-wide program of rail joint elimination to improve ride quality and cut service disruptions. Flash-butt welding applies a strong electrical current to the touching ends of two sections of rail. The ends become white hot due to electrical resistance and can then be fused together to form a single rail. The new continuously welded rail is strong, gives a smoother passenger ride, and allows trains to travel with less friction – thereby increasing system efficiency.

Through Metro’s comprehensive rail-infrastructure maintenance program, upgrades are put in place for the future of the system and transit in the region.

This post forms part of a series featuring content from Metro’s Sustainability Agenda, part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.

Connect Communities for Environmental Benefits

May 7th, 2014 No comments

Connecting Communities Concept

Connecting Communities Concept.  Click image for a larger version.

As the Washington metropolitan area continues to grow, the shape of that growth will define the character and sustainability of our region for decades to come.  Attracting a significant proportion of the area’s new households and jobs to locations near rail stations and bus stops will  provides a host of significant environmental and social benefits that can positively effect quality of life in the region. Quality of life can be improved by convenient access to services via walking, biking, and transit, which reduces road congestion and enables significantly less time to be wasted traveling between destinations via automobile. Compact development also serves to help preserve regional environmental resources such as open space, clean air, and healthy waterways.

  • Open Space –  By encouraging vertical development on existing underutilized brownfield and greyfield sites, greenfield sites on the urban periphery can be preserved. As and added benefit, this also means that no additional costs are incurred for new road and utility infrastructure to make these new sites viable.
  • Clean Air – Reduced mobile emissions from vehicle travel improves local and regional air quality. Just as having cleaner air is important for human health and comfort, it is also important for the world around us. Cleaner air means fewer pollutants in our environment and that means plants, animals, water and soil are healthier too.
  • Healthy Waterways – Compact development leaves more land open for stormwater detention and retention on undeveloped land at the urban periphery, thereby reducing the erosive impacts of stormwater runoff on rivers and streams.

One example of how Metro has worked with partners to attract regional infill growth is the NoMa-Gallaudet U station, the first infill station constructed on the Metrorail system. Utilizing what would have been excess capacity on the Red Line, the NoMa neighborhood, anchored by the station, has emerged as a high-density mixed-use hub for residents and commuters alike.  Three years before the station opened, the assessed value of real estate in the 35 surrounding blocks was $535 million. Ridership has grown steadily since the station opened in 2004.  Three years after the opening (in 2007) it was $2.3 billion — a 330-percent increase. From 2,100 trips in 2005 the station now has an average of 7,400 trips each weekday. Currently, based on the development pipeline data from NoMa BID the neighborhood is approximately 50% built out, with 16 million square feet of commercial and residential space. That is the equivalent of 50 high-density buildings in the 350 acre around the station. In contrast, to accommodate this scale of development in a low-density suburban setting would require in excess of 900 acres and would require new parking and roadway infrastructure due to the absence of transit.

A new Connecting Communities Key Performance Indicator (KPI) (PDF) is being developed to measure regional household growth in areas that are adjacent to Metro. This KPI will be reported through Metro’s Vital Signs Report in 2014.

This post forms part of a series featuring content from Metro’s Sustainability Agenda, part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.

Water Use at Metro

May 1st, 2014 No comments

Bus Wash Montgomery Division

Bus Wash Montgomery Division

Fresh water is a precious resource and Metro is doing its part to reduce strain on shared natural resources and infrastructure. The Authority uses water for a whole host of activities beyond drinking and flushing.  Water is used to maintain our facilities, keep stations cool,  to wash buses and trains, and to clean vehicle parts. To give Metro’s water use some sense of scale, in 2013 the Authority used 98 million gallons of water, or the equivalent of 148 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Metro has already made significant investments to conserve water throughout the Authority.  For example, all of Metro’s new and renovated bus garages feature bus wash systems that incorporate high efficiency water saving equipment. Wash water is no longer just fed from the utility and mixed with detergents. Instead, during the wash cycle the mix is drained off, transferred to large sumps and then pumped through reclaiming modules of gratings and filters that clean the water that is then reused in the following wash cycles. The bus wash system  automatically calibrates not only water usage but detergent application amounts; saving on detergent use as well.  The use of high efficient bus wash systems reduces the amount of potable water Metro uses and the amount of wastewater Metro generates.

Also, all new Metro facility construction and major retrofits are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and feature low-flow water fixture upgrades. Low-flow fixtures use high pressure and aeration to produce an acceptable flow without using as much water.

Future facilities, including Metro’s Cinder Bed Road Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility – anticipated to be completed in 2016 – will be designed to LEED specifications and will feature many of the sustainable design features including the efficient bus wash system and low-flow fixtures.

To expand water conservation in the future the Authority has set a target to reduce our potable water use per vehicle mile by 20% by 2025.

This post forms part of a series featuring content from Metro’s Sustainability Agenda, part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.