Author Archive

Abilities-Ride Program: An Alternative to MetroAccess

October 11th, 2016 No comments

In this guest post, Mr. Christiaan Blake, Director, WMATA Office of ADA Policy and Planning describes a new cost-cutting partnership called Abilities-Ride.

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Mr. Christiaan Blake, Director, WMATA Office of ADA Policy and Planning

On September 30, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for its new Abilities-Ride program. Abilities-Ride is designed to provide MetroAccesseligible customers with access to a general trip purpose alternative in the Prince George’s and Montgomery County sections of the MetroAccess service area. Depending on the results of the program, Abilities-Ride could be expanded to cover the entirety of the MetroAccess service area. Abilities-Ride will not be a Metro service, but instead a public-private partnership between Metro and one or more vendors that provide existing or soon-to-be established generally available on-demand service. Metro will subsidize up to $15 per eligible customer trip.

MetroAccess Sustainability

MetroAccess is the region’s designated paratransit service for people whose disabilities prevent them from using bus and/or rail services for at least some of their trips. As outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), paratransit services like MetroAccess were designed to be a safety net. However, in many places, including the Metro service region, demand for paratransit has grown at unsustainable rates. To address the growth in demand for MetroAccess, WMATA has been facilitating the availability of new alternative services among which MetroAccess customers could choose. The new alternatives include the Coordinated Alternatives to Paratransit Service (CAPS) pilot program for trips to/from human services agencies, and the highly successful TransportDC service that allows Washington, DC residents eligible for MetroAccess to call a cab for medical and work-related trips anywhere in DC for a flat, $5 fare. Read more…

Check Out the Agenda for Metro’s Data Day – “Destination Ideation”

October 4th, 2016 No comments

Agenda released for upcoming event focused on identifying rider needs in the apps & maps space.

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Expect name tags and group activities at our upcoming event. Photo credit Open Data Nation.

Two weeks ago we announced we were hosting an event here at Metro on October 15th to engage the developer, rider and advocate communities to uncover unmet needs and potential solutions to them.  We plan to have some fun and meet new people, and we are calling it Destination Ideation.

While we are busily preparing for the event, we invite you to go ahead and check out the event agenda.  (PDF)

For those who are interested but haven’t signed up yet, please go to the event page to claim your free ticket.  We need a good estimate of the head-count to manage the event.

Download:  agenda-destination-ideation-v2

RSVP:  http://tinyurl.com/destinationideation

We are looking forward to seeing you on October 15!

With Additional Price Points, SelectPass Sales Continues to Grow

September 29th, 2016 3 comments

Metro added an additional seven price points to SelectPass starting in August, and customers have started to take notice!

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SelectPass sales by month in a stacked line graph, meaning total sales is the value of the upper-most line.

Perhaps you recall Metro is testing a new, custom-value pass.  Customers “select” their usual commute trip and then can purchase a monthly pass priced at 18 days of commute travel.  Since all months have more than 18 work days, this new pass offers regular customers a great deal.  The pass began with two price points ($2.25 and $3.75) and included rail-only and rail-bus options.

As you may have heard, Metro expanded the SelectPass pilot to 7 new price points on August 22, for September passes. And customers have responded.  As you can see in the graphic above, the base-fare pass sales for September exceeded their sales levels for July.  And instead of eating into sales of the base-fare pass, the new price points are adding additional pass sales.

A recent customer experience survey polled over four thousand current or former SelectPass customers, where we learned the following: Read more…

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Metrorail Usage Data to Inform Analysis of the Current Budget Proposal Regarding Early Closures

September 23rd, 2016 2 comments

Data can help inform understanding of the potential impacts and mitigating strategies for potential changes to Metrorail’s span of service.

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Metrorail ridership after 10 PM on Sundays, by month, since August 2010. The black line is the average, the yellow band is one standard deviation +/- average. The dashed line is the maximum.

In June of 2016, Metro began closing at midnight on weekend nights to allow more time for track work over the weekends, in support of the SafeTrack program.  The Metro GM/CEO has recently announced he will pursue making this service change permanent.  To meet the necessary track work requirements to get the system in a state of good repair – recommendations which the FTA and others have also made – the current budget proposal for FY 18 includes various additional early closure options, including ending Metrorail service at 10 PM on Sundays.

Staff from across the agency are currently working to assess the impact of such closures on customers and determine what strategies we might employ to replace some or all of that rail service with alternatives.

Similar to our data release related to SafeTrack, we are glad to provide ridership data to assist with analyses by our local partners and members of the transit advocacy community.

First, average, standard deviation and maximum ridership after midnight on Friday and Saturday, and after 10 PM on Sunday by month, station, and hour, from 2010 to 2016.  (Excel, 13 MB)  The graph above illustrates one dimension of this data:  the average, usual range and maximum system ridership on Sundays by month since August 2010.  The biggest spike there is during Obama’s second inauguration weekend.  There is a lot to learn from this data set.

Secondly, we’ve put together Metrorail entries by half hour by day type.  The full dataset is available for download, but the relevant data is presented in the image below, showing the half-hour segments that have the lowest ridership.

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We have also assembled additional visualizations of ridership during the potentially impacted periods: Read more…

Try Out the New “Metrobus Explorer” Tool and Tell Us What You Think!

September 22nd, 2016 5 comments

We want your feedback on a new online tool, Metrobus Explorer, which allows visualization of Metrobus service frequency and geography.

One of the biggest challenges facing bus transit is making the service extremely easy to understand.  Metrorail stations are filled with customer information, including system maps, fare and travel time tables, station-ahead lists, and passenger information display systems (PIDS) screens, leaving little guesswork for the savvy traveler.  Moreover, with limited real estate available for customer information, Metrobus stops are often at a disadvantage.  While Metro continues to improve bus stops around the region — including the design and installation of new diagrammatic bus system maps — information technology is also playing an important role in filling the bus customer information gap, including BusETA, information displays, and trip planning sites and apps.

Metro’s Office of Planning is developing a new online tool called Metrobus Explorer that is geared to answer two questions about the Metrobus network:  “How often do buses arrive at a given stop (or set of stops), and where do they go from there?”

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Screen shot of the bus frequency and spider map tool. Click the image to access the live tool online.

Read more…

Metro to Continue Dialogue with App Development Community and Riders!

September 15th, 2016 2 comments

Metro Data Day 1 will bring together Metro staff, the app developer community, riders and advocates.

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Metro has some great data feeds, and app developers — from Google and Apple to Metro Hero — are consuming them to provide great tools for transit riders in the Washington DC region.

That’s great news, and yet there are opportunities to do even more!  For example, we’d love to see app developers help customers plan an accessible trip – one that routes a user to station entrances where elevators are present.  And this isn’t likely the only unmet need from the Metro transit rider community. There are loads of great ways to make this data more useful to you.  That’s where you come in.  Read more…

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Help Metro Get Smarter: Now Hiring Business Intelligence Analyst

August 4th, 2016 1 comment

If you are great with data and love cities and transit, we have a job for you.

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We were excited to announce that a job listing for a Business Intelligence Analyst position within Planning’s Applied Planning Intelligence unit has just been posted.  We are looking for a healthy overlap between a data scientist and a transit nerd.  For the full job description, head over to the wmata.com/careers site, scroll down and click on View all jobs.  A short description is posted below.

Currently a team of two, we work to convert Metro’s many data sources into information that can be used to inform plans, policies and procedures.  Many of our projects have been featured here on PlanItMetro, including:

Read more…

What’s the “Word” on SelectPass

June 20th, 2016 7 comments

Customers are saying great things about SelectPass, Metro’s new unlimited monthly pass program.

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Word Cloud representing what SelectPass customers have said about the new pass program. Click for a larger version.

This post was submitted by Metro’s Director of Customer Research.

Metro’s limited time offer SelectPass has early adopters talking. In April, Metro sought to provide new payment methods by introducing SelectPass—a multi-tiered pass option allowing customers to ride as much as they want on Metrorail (and Metrobus).  Currently two price points are available. Read more…

Rail Car Crowding and SafeTrack – Potential Customer Impacts Analysis Released

June 13th, 2016 1 comment

We have developed a customer impact analysis that shows how and where customers may be impacted in the SafeTrack safety surges, to help guide regional partners plan mitigation and alternatives

you_down_with_PPCThe first SafeTrack project began on June 4, meaning that Monday, June 6th, was the first day with peak-period service disruptions.  This first safety surge is to accommodate the track improvement project planned for the Orange and Silver lines between East Falls Church and Ballston.  With only one track available for revenue service, we are cutting back to just over 3 trains per hour on each line through the work zone.  When service levels decrease without a decrease in demand, we see an increase in passenger loading on rail cars.  We measure that with a metric called passengers per car, or PPC.

Our rail cars are designed to comfortably transport around 100 passengers each, with most sitting and a few customers standing.  After special events (or any given weekday on some lines) we often find rail cars with much higher passenger loads. From a planning perspective, an average PPC of greater than 120 is considered crowded.  Also, we know that customers don’t evenly distribute themselves across rail cars, so an average PPC of 120 means some cars are much more crowded. Read more…

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Designing the SelectPass Test Phase

May 4th, 2016 9 comments

The new Metro SelectPass is structured to to maximize pilot participation while minimizing the risks.  Making that happen involves overcommitting to truth in advertising – and we’re fine with that!

The two most likely fare levels for the SelectPass are $2.25 and $3.75.

The two fare levels most likely to be popular for the SelectPass are $2.25 and $3.75.

We are excited about the launch of the new SelectPass pilot.  As we have begun to roll out this new pass product, we are listening to your questions (via twitter, comments posted to articles, etc.) and we hope to address as many of them through the proper venues.  PlanItMetro seems to be the best forum to answer the persistent question, “Is this really only for two fare levels, and why don’t you tell everyone that they can probably save money?”

Testing the capacity of the Fare System

When we roll out new features, we want to eliminate as many risks as possible before committing to them.  In this case, the primary risk Metro faces is that our aging fare technology might not be able to accommodate a very different fare product such as SelectPass.  So we developed a program to test the pass at two individual “levels” as a proof of concept and not push any limits of our fare collection technology. Read more…

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