Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The future of riding on Metrorail: Part One, what some stakeholders said in last week's City Paper cover story

WMATA farecard, The Future Is Riding On MetroWMATA, the transit authority in the DC metropolitan area, is admitting that poor service is affecting ridership and revenue ("What it looks like when Metro riders reach their breaking point," Washington Post; "Why D.C.-Area Commuters Say They Are Dropping Metro," WAMU-FM).

I was reading an article  (Stress Testing: How Can You Ensure Your Institution's Fiscal Health?," ) in Trustee, the magazine for the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities) whose members sit on college boards, about metrics for staying on top of the financial health of your school.

Given the fact that over the past five years, while Metrorail ridership has declined, most other peer transit agencies across the country have experienced ridership increases ("Use of public transit in U.S. reaches highest level since 1956," New York Times ), especially for rail-based services, ridership decline ought to have been an indicator that the system was experiencing problems, which without correction, would only get worse.

(Note that much of the transit ridership increase has been in NYC.  However, it is the largest cities, with heavy rail transit systems that have the most transit usage anyway.)

Last week, the Washington City Paper did a nice cover story, "How to Fix Metro: Thirteen proposals from riders, advocates, and experts," featuring interviews with experts and riders about "how to fix Metrorail." The idea behind the story was good, although I didn't think there was enough meat in maybe half of the responses.

But I was super-surprised to see that the two best comments, in my opinion, were from DC Councilmember Jack Evans and former director of the DC Office of Planning, Harriet Tregoning. And right up there was Stewart Schwartz, director of the Coalition for Smart Growth.

Plus Darrin Nordahl.  In the past, I've pooh poohed his ideas focused on making transit fun, but he didn't discuss that, instead focusing on the role of transit in making great places, that transit is the foundation of great cities.

And Ashley Robbins of the newly formed advocacy group, WMATA Riders' Union ("Metro riders form union to serve as platform to address service," Washington Post.

Part Two will be my response to the piece.

The thirteen people's comments can be summarized thusly:

Dan Tangherlini, former director of DC Dept. of Transportation, interim director of WMATA for short period

-- "focus on the rider"

Gabe Klein, former director of DC Dept. of Transportation, and author of the newly published Start Up City

-- WMATA shouldn't try to do everything itself, be open to innovation, contract services (such as transportation information displays) from the best providers, consider contracting transit services

Jeff Larrimore, Save the Blue Line co-founder

-- WMATA needs to make big capital investments and those are long term projects.  In the short run, to repair the relationship with riders, provide refunds for significantly delayed trips, and stop charging rush hour rates for times when the number of trains provided is paltry.

Jack Evans, DC Councilmember and WMATA Baord member
Public transportation only works when it’s cheap and convenient. This is especially true in today’s world when anyone can press three buttons on their phone and order a clean, quick, and fairly inexpensive car service to pick them up within minutes.

Unfortunately, WMATA is struggling to be either right now, with constant service interruptions and delays making it unreliable for people and rising fares making it more expensive year after year. If you live near the end of one of the lines and have to park at the station to get in the system, you’re easily spending $15 a day to commute into D.C.

The system isn’t working well right now, but it can be fixed. It’s going to take immediate, serious action, but we can, to use the common expression, “unsuck” the Metro system.

In the short-term, we need to hire a general manager who can motivate the workforce to be proactive about improving the system and strike fear in his or her leadership team that if they don’t get things done or make this a system that works for riders, there will be consequences. We also need to continue to get the financial and operational house in order. We need to get an audit done quickly enough that it is actually helpful to improve our finances, we need to create enough maintenance time to keep the system running, and we need to have a sense of urgency to do these things now.

Longer-term, we need to decide as a region if we want an OK system that runs every eight to 12 minutes, has decent but not exemplary geographic coverage, and is one of the more expensive systems in the country. If we decide instead that we want a first-class system that is conveniently located with more stations, has reliable and short headways, and has a cheaper fare structure, then we as a region need to pay for it.

It’s going to take dedicated or at least increased funding—on the order of $25 billion over the next 10 years—to build a system that works for the Washington region in 2025, not 1975. Regional leaders and the public need to decide if that’s what they want, and then pay for it. Raising fares and being inconvenient is a recipe for obsolescence.

My ideal system has a single fare for all riders, never stops building or expanding stations, and is more convenient to use than a mobile car service.
Ashley Robbins, WMATA Riders' Union chair

-- engage riders, improve the safety culture, have an approach to quickly handle service disruptions, don't use WMATA's problems as an excuse not to fund WMATA.
WMATA belongs to all of us—the Board of Directors and local jurisdictions, but most importantly, the riders. Reforming the system is an opportunity to ensure that the agency provides safety, customer service, and communication to its most important stakeholders, those of us who use the system every day. Effective reforms will ensure a strong future for the agency and the vitality of the region.
Darrin Nordahl, author of Making Transit Fun! and My Kind of Transit
Transit planners note that transit has to be safe, clean, convenient, and reliable. And certainly D.C.’s Metro can improve in each of these areas. But there are other factors that Metro—and transit agencies across America—need to consider if they are to be successful in the coming years.

When you examine the most livable cities in the world—Vancouver, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Portland—what you find are multiple modes of mobility, all seamlessly integrated. Streets are chock-a-block with pedestrians, cyclists, bus riders, and straphangers. This isn’t by happenstance. It’s by design. The transportation network in these communities is not just an extension of great urban living, but a reflection of it. The streets are comfortable and compelling for strolling along, biking along, or even just wiling away a couple of hours. The design features that comprise the great streets in these cities—wide, comfortable sidewalks and bike lanes, trees, shade, places to sit so we can read the paper, sip a cup of coffee, or just watch others—need to be included in the overall transportation network. Why? Because every transit trip begins and ends with a short walk or a bicycle ride. ...

Giving attention to all the environments that transit riders will occupy or pass through on their journey—the walk from their office to the train station; the streets they have to cross to get to the bus stop; the street corner itself where we will wait five or fifteen minutes (or more) for the bus; the bus and train itself—and asking questions—like what is the lighting like, are the seats comfortable, and can I sip a cup of coffee without being harassed by rule-mongers wagging their fingers about “no food or beverages onboard”—help create a transit network that lures even the most entrenched motorist from his or her car.
Roger Bowles, WMATA Riders' Union

-- Break up WMATA, the WMATA Board is political and should be dissolved.  Create a new authority run by top transportation officials from DC, MD, VA, and the Federal Government. Devolve bus operations to the local jurisdictions

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director, Coalition for Smarter Growth

-- Transit is fundamental to the region's growth.  Fix Metro and expand regional transit service.
Before Metro, the federal government had to work on a shift basis to deal with traffic. Before Metro, the city and older inner suburbs were experiencing economic decline as we sprawled outward. With Metro, they boomed. Without Metro and continued transit expansion, we would need thousands of lane-miles of new highways, and tens of thousands of additional parking spaces, impacting homes and neighborhoods and taking the life out of communities.

Metro has fueled billions of dollars in real estate investment and the walkable, transit-oriented centers that are so much in demand today. Recently, 84 percent of new office development in the pipeline has been within a quarter-mile of Metro. Marriott’s CEO says the company will move to a Metro station location, joining Hilton, Choice Hotels, Intelsat, and dozens of other companies seeking Metro station locations. Office parks are dead. No one wants to work there anymore.

We must unite in a commitment to fix Metro and expand regional transit service. This means that instead of pointing fingers and fighting over who pays what, every elected official—our governors, congressional delegation, mayors, councilmembers, and supervisors—must unite to provide the shared vision, the funding, and the oversight needed to put Metro back on track. They need to hire a new general manager who has the experience and management skills to run a large technologically complex organization, but also the leadership skills to inspire and to change organizational culture. Metro must become much more transparent, improve communications, and engage the public. It must become a customer-focused organization.

Metro planners recently determined that completing transit-oriented development at all existing Metro stations would increase the ridership and efficiency of the Metrorail system, eliminating the need for an operating subsidy and even generating an operating surplus. But we can’t get there without fixing the aging infrastructure; addressing management, communications, and safety issues; and investing in the capacity needed to handle future growth. Let’s get on with it!
Randal O'Toole, anti-transit advocate, Cato Institute

-- Rail was the wrong choice. Should have been buses. Self-driving cars are the future.

Rod Diridon, former director of Mineta Transportation Institute, former chair, American Public Transportation Association
You can’t privatize a program that doesn’t make money, and no mass transportation systems in the world—except for a line here and there and high-speed rail—make a profit. So you can’t privatize Washington Metro, unless you subsidize it and give that tax dollar subsidy to a private company… If you’re going to give a lot of money to a private company, why not give it to Washington Metro and let them rebuild their system and operate it properly? They have the ability. You’ve got people like Mort Downey on that board who are outstanding managers, they just need the money to do the job.

First, you have to provide an outstanding transportation experience, and a lack of maintenance on Metro because of a lack of funding precludes you providing an outstanding experience. So you need to have, first of all, a superior product and you need to marry that with an outstanding management team.

Often times, when you have a lack of funding, those who are loathe to give you money because they don’t have it or because they’re cheap will pit the riders against the managers and against the unions in order to distract you from the fact that you don’t have enough money. The riders, the managers, and the unions need to get together here, realize you don’t have the money to operate an outstanding system, and go to your funding source and ask them, either politely or rudely, for adequate funding.
Tim Krepp, tour guide, former candidate for Congressional Delegate, DC

-- WMATA needs long term fixes.  But right now WMATA sure needs to improve how it deals with riders.  Announcements usually don't provide substantive information.  Top executives should be out on the front lines.  The WMATA twitter feed sucks,  Improve.

Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board

-- US DOT needs to regulate WMATA to ensure safety.

Harriet Tregoning, Head of the Office of Community Planning and Development, HUD, former director of the DC Office of Planning
... We have typically had general managers, it was their last stop before retirement. You’re not going to get the most innovation or commitment to changes when you’re thinking about retiring. I’ve suggested that our peer group is not limited to the United States, to U.S. transit systems. Many, many other transit systems around the globe might be more comparable both in terms of the development patterns and the degree to which those cities are able to have the non-automobile mode-share that we have in the District.

The second thing: We benefited for 40 years from being one of the most recent heavy rail systems in the country. I think we haven’t really come to grips with what it requires to keep a clearly aging system like ours in a state of good repair. I don’t think we’ve been straight with anybody, including ourselves or our riders, about what it really takes to have that state of good repair, and it’s really hurt the reliability of the system. We need to be honest with ourselves and we need to have a straight-up discussion with our riders very explicitly about what the tradeoffs are and what the needs really are.

Speaking of our customers: We need to have a very different relationship with them than we do right now. We need to be much more transparent and open and communicative with them. We have more than a million riders daily; they are our eyes and ears in the system. We should be creating all kinds of panels for them to give us feedback about how the system is working, what things aren’t working, what their priorities are… So, what do our customers say we should be paying attention to? That’s really important.

If you go to other cities... the Tube in London is a part of the experience in living in and visiting the city. People have such a fondness for the system, even though it’s a very old system and it breaks down sometimes. It’s part of their daily experience, and I don’t think we’ve really cultivated that kind of relationship around Metro. We’ve been kind of formal, standoffish, and bureaucratic as an organization, and I do think we need to talk more about what it means to have Metro choices.

I certainly hear tourists talk about how great it is, but boy, I see things every day that could be improved in terms of how easy it is to navigate the system, what we do to make it as user-friendly as possible, especially when there’s a disruption.

Part of having a better relationship and a more transparent relationship with our customers, I think we need to do more to innovate within the system. That means also being willing to try different approaches and occasionally to fail; but if we manage our customers’ expectations, we can study something for years or we can try something for a couple of months and see how it works, and use that as a way to make an adjustment to service and other things.
-- + hire a CEO and put in place dedicated funding

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At 9:02 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

RE: fixed funding.

What that really says is WMATA wants the ability to issue debt, and use decimated funding to pay for the debt.

That is we need a large cash infusion now, and we can fix the system.

Nothing about WMATA management or governance makes me confident that works. The crippling fiscal issue is pension funding, healthcare, and raises.

And we've had 5+ years of heavy capital investment apparently to no end.


1) Widespread management changes. And yes, we should consider using a private company to run aspects of the system.

2) Definite break with employee agreement

3) Fare hikes

4) 10-15 year agreement for dedicated funding to raise debt, something like a GARVEE bond.

5) removal of local politicians from the board.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

As you can imagine, my response for the follow up will be more big picture, about the "purpose"/vision of the system.

I see I'm gonna have to be big and little in the piece.

I don't have your understanding of capital markets, and didn't see the connection between bond funding and the "dedicated funding" stream. It's obvious once you point it out, although I don't think that the connection has been pointed out. (I'd have to look back at the very old Puentes paper to confirm...)

... although I do believe in dedicated funding, I don't think it's the panacea that people believe. Except for your point about raising large amounts of money _now_.

I am in favor of a transit wage tax more than a metropolitan sales tax but without the federal govt. agreeing to its assessment on their workers, it will have limited effect.

And with this Congress likely to be the shape of Congress for awhile, the likelihood of this happening anytime soon is infinitesimal.

So I'd settle for a metropolitan sales tax for now.

I have no problem with "private operators", basically my point is we should have a regional-metro scale transpo plan and based on that, contract for operations. E.g. a real regional plan for transit probably would have said rail to Dulles not subway.

I do think have common branding (Metrorail, Metrobus, Metrolocal) should be created independent of who operates what. That brand would be "owned by the equivalent of the HVV" (HVV = Hamburg Transport Association, the compact of all the government agencies and operators in the geography they serve).

That's what's done with TfL and presumably HVV in Hamburg.

I don't know how to "break" elements of the current union agreement. It'll be tough.

WRT "the board," I don't have a solution.

In theory, you want "local politicians" on the board because at least in the case of DC, they come up with the appropriations. Sort of in VA, but the local politicians represent the NoVA Transportation Commission, which does coordinate the funding. The money from MD comes from the state.

But as we've discussed, politics is now, not about being stewards for the future. So the politicians will always satisfice with a focus on reducing outlays, so they can spend money on stuff they care about more.

Anyway, I disagree with the Riders Union guy who says that "WMATA" should be run by the top transportation officials of the Compact Members. They are just as much political creatures as anyone else, and they change with the change in Governor.

So I don't have a good solution. In the past we've discussed electing board members. If we saw them as the beginnings of a "Metro Government" sort of equivalent of what there is in Greater Portland and in certain parts of Greater Toronto, it could make sense.

They would be responsible for crafting the agreements between the new GWTA (Greater Washington Transportation Authority) and the local, state, and federal governments.

The BART Board is elected, and I've been meaning to write for many many months about the initiative by one board member to put up pictures and contact info of Board Members in the transit stations.

WRT "management" I think the organization has been so shaped by its first leader, a General in the Army Corps of Engineers, that it's incredibly ossified.

I think we need to "contract" to Bloomberg's consulting group to get Janette Sadik-Khan to be the President, because she understands transit and placemaking, can deal with the jurisdictions, has a great reputation.

At the same time, a super duper CFO needs to be hired, and a super duper president of Metrorail too.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

The thing that Harriet Tregoning said about the necessary understanding of what state of good repair means is really important, and it jibes with a recent insight I had about the design of the system and its real capacity.

I'm pretty proud of putting the points together. No one really has.

Basically no system in North America has been designed to have the amount of ridership that WMATA has with two major flaws in the original design: (1) only two tracks so no redundancy within lines--this means that train problems back up the system and also eliminates the ability to do express running; (2) 5 of the six lines are inter-lined so that the real capacity of the system is not 6 lines but 3 lines (Red, the only line not subject to inter-lined service; the Orange/Blue/Silver combo, and the Green/Yellow combo).

This is combined with the other element of SGR (state of good repair), as equipment ages it breaks down more.

So only having two tracks, having 5 lines interline on two lines, and having not enough and older cars, means that the system will fail a lot.

From an engineering standpoint (and like I am not a lawyer, I am also not an engineer), the system is designed to fail, given the funding/SGR and capacity constraints.

Only by always maintaining SGR at the highest levels which is incredibly costly and having enough equipment can it possible reach real numbers of 1+ million riders/day on Metrorail.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

And Nordahl's, Evans', and Tregoning's comments on the role of transit in making a great place and a great region is key.

WMATA by default has been the planner. They are overmatched and their perspective is constrained. They are the wrong entity to do the planning.

And the failure of the system is catastrophic in terms of supporting urbanism, with the exception that as the core of the city densifies some and this goes for Wilson Blvd. too, more and more things can be done (work, play, shop, school) over shorter distances that can be accomplished on foot mostly (by bike by some) so neither a car (well car sharing is a useful addition) nor transit are required.

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

The most telling thing is that WMATA calls Metrorail "the railroad" and a offhand comment to a reporter that a "good day is a working rush hour" says enough about the mentality -- they want to run a commuter railroad.

So yes,moving planning elsewhere is not good.

In terms of board members, the idea that the various jurisdictions get a have a member has been a disaster. Governance is the real source of problems. Yes, you do it because they have to ask for money. Whether is Chris zimmerman asking arlington to kick in more is rather irrelevant.

You could cobble together something like what Treasury suggest for Puerto Rico yesterday. States agree to a certain percentage of the tax for 10 years, go into a treasury account, that pays for a bond.

SandBox john makes a good point that lack of rolling stock is killing metro rail, and that would be helped with capital infusion.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I have been thinking about "driverless cars" more, not just because of Randal O'Toole's ridiculous statements, and I think what people are saying about their power as a disruptive technology is likely incredibly overstated.

Basically, in cities their impact is comparable to one way carshare mostly, more than two way carshare.

It's complicated. In theory, they say because of automated operation, you don't need an operator, making it cheaper to operate and charge for us, making it cost competitive if not cheaper than owning a car.

Right now it costs about $8000 to own and maintain a car, and the "operator" drives it without charging him/herself for it.

So the presumption is that people have an $8000 travel budget which they can use on TNC service instead of owning their own car, and the car use will be cheaper because rather than sitting 95% of the time, it will always be in use (well, at least for 16 hours/day).

In theory automated motor vehicle operation will add capacity on freeways and in city operation, because cars can drive closer together.

But like the foolish statements about PRT, the real issue is physics, and the use of about 150 s.f. to 200 s.f. on the road to move one person "in a car."

There are two types of trips say, "aggregated trips to common places" that are made by subway, bus and similar forms of transit, and disaggregated trips made by individuals to all kinds of places.

The former aren't efficient from a physics standpoint to shift to driverless cars from a train car. A WMATA car is 750 s.f. and carries up to 150 people. It also doesn't share its ROW, so it has greater capacity.

To move "that many people" in individually operated driverless cars would take up 30,000 s.f. on the street, and don't have exclusive use of the right of way.

The latter kinds of trips are hard to capture by transit efficiently, depending on the origin and destination. Some are capturable, efficiently, and some aren't.

Driverless cars, car sharing, TNC forms of "carpooling" can deal with that some.

So the biggest "effect" from driverless cars "in the city" might just be for "parking" because less would be needed, because cars are in use _more_ and won't be parked as often.

I guess the way to look at it is in terms of "monocentric" vs. "polycentric" spatial and trip patterns.

Driverless cars and PRT are touted really because they support sprawl. _Mass_ transit is about concentration and monocentricity.

Regardless of whether or not cars are automated or not, there is a physical constraint on how many people can be moved efficiently that way.

... and I am not a lawyer, not a financial expert, not an engineer, not a physicist.

But I can opine about _optimality_.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Jim Hamre is in charge of bus planning. At a presentation maybe two years ago at ACT in Silver Spring, he too kept referring to "the railroad." I was really struck by what that meant culturally.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

And yes, the amount of rolling stock is a key factor, its age and SGR, plus the lack of a third track, and the interlining of the 5 lines.

And those are huge issues, irrespective of funding and governance and planning.

A quadruple play of big proportions.

Some people say that you need more interconnection like NYC, but the Metrorail lines aren't situated in a manner that would make any difference, plus many of the NYC lines have more than two tracks which facilitates cross connection and changing routing in emergencies.

This is why a separated "silver line" is so important (referred to in the past as the separated blue line). And a separated yellow line. And at least a separated silver line would allow for blue/orange interlining in a way that the current blue line riders don't get dissed.

I'd probably create a new color in addition to the blue to denote a different service. Each would start at Franconia. One would go up to Rosslyn and share the orange line. The other would go across the Long Bridge.

It could either become part of the separated Yellow Line


Separately, I've suggested an extension from Fort Totten to White Oak out New Hampshire Ave. It would potentially interdict a lot of traffic in and out of DC, plus it would be good for MoCo.

If that extension were continued into the city, it could become the extension of the Franconia-across the Long Bridge line.

Maybe the separated Yellow Line is one thing and the New Hampshire Line is another...

I guess I need to learn how to use graphic design software.

At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I guess I need to learn how to use graphic design software."

Oh, no!!! Mr. Bill!!!


At 12:34 PM, Anonymous James D said...

So I'm confused...
WMATA is running two different systems: the subway and bus systems. In reading different articles about the issues with the rail system, I don't understand why WMATA isn't giving people information on the local bus lines they could take instead. This would keep WMATA users using some part of the system, meaning less money would be lost and people are still taking mass-transit and not dumping the WMATA system altogether. I am aware that MetroBus is considering major changes, but if I were an executive of WMATA, and people didn't want to cross the city by rail, I'd want them to cross by bus.

It also looks like transportation planning isn't really being coordinated by one agency in the region, especially when streetcar lines are being proposed, planned, or constructed in different parts of the region, and the purple line was going to be handled outside of WMATA. I feel like in a good planning system, you wouldn't have independent groups trying to build streetcar lines (where buses are running, I would presume, given the importance of the corridors like H-Street or Columbia Pike).

To that extent, the only logical reasons why there's a subway running out to Dulles instead of a commuter rail are: 1) The subway system was really popular, and they wanted to extend this popular system, and 2) The right of way/ engineering work to get a route into Union Station from Tyson's Corner probably was more expensive, either in the need to create an additional river crossing or having to tunnel a few extra miles around Arlington Cemetery to get to the VRE bridge.

Lastly, I think the transformer fire at Stadium-Armory is a sign that the system is running over its design capacity. Given the fact that all of the smaller transformers along the lines were at capacity for providing power before the fire--from what I read--and they can't run any more trains through the Rosslyn tunnel, it seems to me that the fire might've been due to the transformer wearing down because of the stress of carrying as many trains as it has to and the trains being extremely full. The overcapacity might be wearing down the system as fast as all of the other reasons so far mentioned, including lack of a maintenance budget, limited capacity to make repairs, etc. Had they considered this when planning, it might've affected how the Silver Line ended up.

It probably also means that either: a) The next major capital project is going to involve unnoticeable things like expanding the capacity of transformers or replace third rails on the red line (and people really don't like spending money on things they aren't able to see), b) An alternate east-west tunnel will be the next major capital project, in to increase capacity in a larger way, or c) Funding won't be coming in, and so WMATA can't resolve the overcapacity issue, and it leaves everyone angered at WMATA.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

wrt bus, first, most lines don't have parallel bus service at all. Some do, for part of the way. But even when they do, the capacity is so much different. You need 12 buses or more to equal 8 train cars. Plus surface riding is much much slower.

I understand the concept, and think that we need overnight bus service along the lines to have 24 hour transit service, but from a capacity, throughput, and efficiency standpoint, I've never understood WMATA's statements about bus as an alternative.

Plus that's 11 more bus drivers per shift, and that's a huge cost.

wrt service failures now and buses, they don't have much in the way of slack capacity anyway -- no extra buses, no extra drivers.

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I am not familiar with all the technical issues, but yes, my understanding is that to reach the planned capacity, there needs to be a lot of investment in background infrastructure to enable it, including an upgrade of power systems.

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

and the planning thing is something I've pointed out for awhile. We don't do regional transportation planning (I define region as two or more metropolitan areas). We don't really do metropolitan transportation planning.

So by default WMATA is the planner. WMATA only cares about heavy rail and regional bus, they aren't agnostic as it relates to mode.

So that's two problems.

The third problem is that wrt WMATA, in 2003 they devolved authority and responsibility for expansion planning and construction to the jurisdictions.

The fourth problem is that somehow jurisdictions are allowed to increase capacity in some places without paying towards dealing with the repercussions of the changes on other parts of the system, e.g., with the Silver Line, no responsibility for paying for/creating a second northern crossing to DC, no payment required for a turnaround track at Stadium Armory, etc.

Metro Forward is an attempt by WMATA to reset the agenda. The problem is that with the Compact, all the jurisdictions basically have to agree to such changes, so the plan only calls for changes they think they can get approval for, not necessarily for the best/most important improvements.


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