Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Thursday, January 21, 2016

To Reverse Ridership Declines, Metro Pins Hopes On Development Around Stations, WAMU, January 19, 2016

Martin DiCaro, WAMU's transportation reporter, wrote an excellent article on Metrorail's hopes that development around its stations will increase ridership, citing Reston's Wiehle Station area as an example.  The "hope" is based on a transportation study done by the University of Maryland showing that jobs and residences near Metro contribute to its ridership base.  We would put two caveats on that result:
  • Jobs and new residences must be created.  In the current national political climate of reduced federal spending, it is not at all clear when (or if) the Washington area's growth--well behind national averages--will increase.
  • Metro must be safe and reliable.  We hope the new general manager can make that happen, but we don't expect any significant improvements in the near term with rail car deliveries slow and the need to improve the safety of railway's infrastructure.  
Here is how DiCaro's article begins:

Will future real estate development guarantee a return of Metro’s lost riders?

The problems plaguing the second-busiest subway system in America are well-documented: an economic downturn and federal budget sequestration led to fewer rides; the reduction of a pre-tax transit benefit, provided by more than 5,000 employers, from $255 to $130 per month also contributed to the decline; and for the first time last year the transit authority admitted that consistently unreliable service — some could describe it as terrible — has alienated commuters.

Since its peak in 2008, when Metrorail recorded 750,000 trips on the average weekday, ridership is down 5 percent.
But Metro’s leaders believe riders will return, pointing to development either underway or planned within close proximity — defined as a half-mile walking distance — of rail stations across the region. Moreover, while overall ridership is down, more people are using the core stations in downtown D.C., as any regular rider can attest during a typical rush hour of packed platforms and crowded trains.

To help Metro determine how to set fares, researchers at the University of Maryland developed a new ridership model that analyzes how the location of jobs and homes will impact the system’s already strained capacity.

Click here for the rest of this article.  

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