Archive for December, 2016

Prioritizing Metro’s Capital Investment Needs

December 21st, 2016 Comments off

Metro used a risk-based multi-factor methodology to score and rank its 10 year capital needs.

Metro’s 2016 Capital Needs Inventory (CNI) aims to capture and quantify Metro’s existing and anticipated capital needs over the next ten years. With our needs far outpacing available funding, prioritization of capital needs is critical. But with the ever present constraints of budget, time, and staffing, how do we determine how to prioritize our new and existing needs across a 10 year period? Metro used a risk based approach to develop its 10 year capital needs prioritization.  Each criterion is defined based on the impact of an investment to improve an asset’s condition, to thereby improve Metro’s state of good repair or to mitigate asset related risks.

The risk-based prioritization approach is illustrated above.  This approach considers both the likelihood of asset failure and consequence of asset failure. The scoring uses weighted criteria, to represent either the likelihood or consequence of asset failure. For instance, the scoring helps us to decide if it is more urgent to replace one kind of asset over another in any given year, given agency priorities and finite resources.  A safety focused weighting scenario, based on the extent that an asset’s failure would affect overall system and rider safety was developed to reflect Metro’s core mission and values.  It was also important that Metro’s weighting criteria be aligned with its larger strategic goals. The image below demonstrates how Metro’s strategic goals were aligned with CNI scoring weights.

 

Once Metro’s 10 year capital needs were identified and compiled, they went through several rounds of prioritization testing based on the risk-based approach and generated prioritization scores for individual assets in the asset inventory.

cip-process

After the completion of CNI, the identified capital needs must be further verified and then converted into build-able projects through a design and engineering process, which will define actual capital projects with scopes, schedules, cost estimates, and delivery methods.

Switching Things Up for Winter Operations

December 19th, 2016 5 comments

With the impending colder weather, Metro is piloting some new track equipment to fight the snow and ice and maintain overground rail service.

Snow on tracks at Twinbrook Station

Snow on a track switch at Twinbrook Station

As a pilot project funded through Metro’s Sustainability Lab, we have replaced the switch heaters at Glenmont Yard with a new energy efficient heater that not only reduces energy consumption, but is also easier to install and maintain.

Switch heaters are vital to winter operations, providing radiant heat to track switches to prevent them from icing up and restricting train movements. Within the Metrorail system, each rail yard controls its heaters on an individual basis, and heaters are frequently in constant operation during the winter to allow tracks to remain operational.

Glenmont is Metro’s smallest yard and also has one of Metro’s more expensive electricity rates, so it was an ideal candidate to pilot the new heaters. Should testing prove successful this winter, we could adopt this new style of switch heater as standard across 58 miles of surface revenue track and 8 Metrorail yards.  This could save Metro over $110,000 annually in energy costs.

Each year the Sustainability Lab tests out new ideas such as these switch heaters for large-scale deployment, and we would love to have your help in finding ways to reduce resource consumption and improve service. Whatever the idea, we’d love to hear your thoughts and consider them.

So help us think big! Submit your ideas online or email them to planning@wmata.com.

Why Metrobus Matters for a Region full of Bus Systems

December 14th, 2016 2 comments

James HamreJim Hamre, the Director of Metrobus Planning and Scheduling, explains that although decision-making often gets made at the local level, Metrobus is a collective regional asset that is critical to the region’s success.

Metrobus Has Long Been an Important Part of a Coordinated Regional System

For decades, Metrobus and local bus operators have coordinated to develop and enhance the regional transportation network. Local systems have strategically expanded service in places where Metrobus did not exist, was not well suited to serve, or did not have fleet or facility resources as the rail system expanded and changed travel patterns. Considerable time and effort went into the restructuring of bus services to coincide with the expansion of Metrorail to form a balanced network that generally made policy, practice and economic sense. The 1997 Regional Mobility Panel (PDF) reestablished the importance of a regional bus network, and delineated the general service responsibility among local providers and Metrobus, although the local/regional balance has changed in the intervening years.

silver-spring-transit-center-082115-6472

Metrobus and RideOn sharing access to the newly opened Silver Spring Transit Center.  Source, WMATA.

Among other factors, Metrobus is important to the region because it: Read more…

Is the DC Streetcar Hurting Ridership on Metrobus X2+X9? No.

December 12th, 2016 Comments off

The DC Streetcar has not significantly changed ridership on Metrobus X2 and X9, even though the services overlap on H Street NE. Instead, the Streetcar appears to be serving a new, different market – and has increased net transit ridership in the corridor by 15%.

Although the new first phase of the DC Streetcar serves some of the same sections of H Street NE as the existing Metrobus routes X2 and X9, the streetcar appears to be serving almost an entirely new market of transit riders.  Ridership on the underlying Metrobus routes X2 and X9 have remained fairly steady, even as the Streetcar is serving over 2,500 new riders per weekday.

x2-v-streetcar-ridership-monthly-averages-2

Since it opened in February 2016, the DC Streetcar’s ridership has been climbing slowly and steadily, from around 2,400 to 2,800 boardings per weekday.  The route, just over 2 miles long, runs from near Union Station down the length of H Street NE.  The X2 and X9 buses run on the same stretch of H Street NE, but stop at different bus stops and connect farther west into downtown D.C., and farther east to Minnesota Avenue.  The overlap in markets is fairly small, and the ridership data confirm that the two modes are serving distinct markets – ridership on the X2 and X9 has remained flat, or only slightly down.  Overall transit boardings between the two modes combined have risen 15%, from around 14,700/day before the Streetcar to 16,800/day now.  (Note the lift in X2+X9 ridership in June, likely due to SafeTrack Surge 2).

x29-yoy-change-in-ridership-vs-bus-systemwide

The Streetcar’s arrival does coincide with perhaps a minor shift in the rate of change in ridership on the X2+X9: monthly year-over-year change in ridership turned slightly negative last winter. But this is not dramatically different from the systemwide change in Metrobus ridership. So it’s not yet clear if this trend is due to riders switching to the Streetcar, or other forces.

Although the two modes overlap for a short stretch of H Street NE, the arrival of the DC Streetcar appears to be serving a new, distinct transit market. The Streetcar has not significantly poached riders from the existing X2 and X9 Metrobus routes, which have much higher overall ridership and serve a larger geographic area.

Metro’s Ten-Year Capital Needs Inventory and Prioritization is Complete

December 5th, 2016 Comments off

Metro needs to invest $17B over 10 years to achieve and maintain a State of Good Repair.

In June 2016, we introduced the initiation of the 2016 Capital Needs Inventory (CNI), with the goal to develop a list of fiscally unconstrained and prioritized investment needs over the next ten years and to meet the new federal Transit Asset Management (TAM) requirements. After seven months of rigorous work, the first phase of the CNI is coming to a completion!

Figure 1: CNI Final Report

CNI Final Report (click for link to PDF)

What distinguishes this CNI from Metro’s efforts in previous decades? Breakthroughs on several fronts:

  • It represents the first time that Metro developed a ground-up, data-driven and FTA-compliant method for asset prioritization.
  • It consolidates asset data sources and builds a complete asset inventory database that catalogue higher-level assets and asset features.
  • It estimates asset condition (and need rehab/replacement date) based on measurable data such as age of asset and history of rehabilitation, and projects replacement and rehabilitation needs to advance a State of Good Repair (SGR).
  • It establishes a prioritization methodology aligned with Metro’s strategic goals and priorities and uses FTA’s TERM (Transit Economic Requirements Model) to prioritize all asset needs.

Here is a sneak peek of the CNI:

Read more…