Walk This Way – Metro’s Planning Office at APTA’s Rail Conference

July 11th, 2016

Metro shared its Station Area Investment Plan with the APTA Rail Conference attendees – and met with rave reviews.

I recently had the opportunity to present our Station Area Strategic Investment Plan to the over 1,500 attendees at APTA’s Rail Conference.  Many thanks to APTA’s Sustainability and Urban Design Standards program for footing the bill for this trip to Phoenix. It was 117 degrees there, and tested even my desire for walkable urbanism, but that’s another story entirely.

The presentation highlighted the Office of Planning’s work to quantify the return on investment of station area accessibility improvements, work with local jurisdictions, to prioritize these improvements based on an analytical platform, and identify the appropriate funding mechanisms to get these improvements built.

In case you’ve missed our previous posts, Metro’s planning office embarked upon a project to identify all recommended/planned but unbuilt bicycle and pedestrian projects in its station areas. This project sought to pull all these potential projects into one place, prioritize them based on metrics that are meaningful to us and recommend the top scoring projects for advancement – either through funding or implementation.

Southern Ave Walkability

A new pedestrian path at Southern Avenue Station would attract hundreds of new riders

We discovered more than 4500 unique bicycle or pedestrian projects recommended to improve access to any of our 91 Metrorail stations. A close look showed that about 300 had been completed (good news for us!). To make the scoring a bit more manageable, the remaining 4200 projects were then combined into 970 ‘project groups’ that linked together unique projects that made sense to keep as one. For example two curb ramps, a crosswalk connection and wayfinding would make sense to implement together.

To evaluate the benefits and prioritize the projects, we developed 12 measures that align with our strategic goals.  For example:

  • Using local DMV data, our safety measure gave higher scores to projects near high crash sites that will improve the biking and walking environment.
  • Our ridership measure was designed to evaluate whether the project expanded the walkshed to connect existing ‘unconnected’ households or jobs to the station on foot, thereby offering the potential for more people to walk to from the station.
  • We looked at how close the project was to a station entrance – more riders will benefit the closer the project is to the station.
  • The walkshed coverage measure looked at the ability of a project to expand an existing walkshed.
The study identified and prioritized nearly 400 projects that, when completed, will improve ridership and revenue, increase customer safety, and provide additional accessibility options for customers to use the fixed guideway system rather drive or use paratransit.  These projects collectively are also being considered for inclusion into the Transportation Planning Board’s long-range planning process which is a big departure from MPO planning processes nationwide and one step towards ensuring that these critical “low hanging fruit” projects can get funded and built.
What do you think about funding station accessibility?  Is it worth the investment?


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