Archive for June 27th, 2016

Growth Mode or Stuck in Neutral? Or Both?

June 27th, 2016 4 comments

Population and jobs are up, but regional travel is down – Why? The very nature of trip-making may be changing in this region.

Crystal City Sta -am Rush 060912-129For several years, we have been reporting internally and externally about declines in Metrorail ridership. Our most recent rail ridership numbers show continued patterns of ridership levels that are five to eight percent below its 2009 peak, and despite gains in March, the trend in April and May suggests that the ridership patterns that we are seeing now are more structural than cyclical.  The implication here is that Metrorail may be operating at a “new normal” level that is still poised for growth, but growing from a baseline that has been reset at a lower level.

Theories abound about why this is taking place – telework and rail reliability are among the most talked-about culprits – but it’s almost impossible to isolate one cause among many in a time period that also witnessed fare increases, gas prices drop to historically low levels, and wild variations in the Federal transit benefit.

Now we have new information that may present a compelling theory about the declines in Metrorail ridership – the region is making fewer and fewer tripsData recently released by our Transportation Planning Board depicts a startling story of this region’s travel patterns over the last decade or so.  This data tell us that despite economic factors that would normally portend increased trip-making – rising population, household, and employment growth – this region is actually seeing fewer trips overall, regardless of mode. Read more…

Shared Mobility – Complementing Public Transit in the Nation’s Capital

June 27th, 2016 6 comments

In the DC region, shared mobility (Uber, Lyft, etc.) are actually complementary to the transit network. Here’s why we see opportunities to consider even better system integration.

“Transportation Network Companies” – you know them as Uber, Lyft and a host of other brands – are now part of the urban transportation landscape. Some have suggested that the rise of their popularity contributes to ridership decline on Metrorail and still others have heralded their emergence as the end of transit as we know it.  Always focused on investigating trends and proliferating fact rather than folklore, we wanted to know the truth.  Should Metro be nervous?  Are customized trips like these going to put traditional bus and rail out of business?

Unlikely.

Research (PDF) published by the American Public Transit Association and Transportation Research Board – and which I had the pleasure of helping to oversee –  tells us that customers of ridesourcing tend to use the services when transit is less available as well as to get to destinations not easily served by traditional transit.  Furthermore, we learned that in the DC region especially, these TNCs tend to function as informal “Metrorail shuttles” – almost two thirds of Uber trips in the District begin or end at a Metrorail station, and slightly more than a third of Uber trips follow that pattern when we zoom out to the entire region.  Similar statistics prevail when examining the usage of car sharing companies such as Zipcar and Enterprise.  Finally, the data indicates that 57% of frequent users of ridesourcing companies as well as car- and bike-sharing customers identified bus and rail transit as their preferred transportation mode.  This tells us that these services have an important role in complementing the Metro rail system for many customers.Source: Lyft Read more…