20190710 Riders' Advisory Council
7:14PM Jul 11, 2019
1Great. Well, welcome back, everyone. I
Yes. And we've got a few visitors. So I don't think we have any members of the public joining us.
Stephen Repetski, of Greater Greater Washington. Sorry. Yeah. Recca's not here to tell me to speak up. Stephen Repetski will be here. He's just running late.
I don't know if that makes a difference.
So at this point, we'll go ahead and bypass public comment, if that's all right with everyone. But I guess we should approve our agenda, as outlined. Do have a motion to approve the agenda?
I make a motion to approve the agenda, striking the section on approving the minutes for the June meeting.
Okay, I'm sorry, I still had it...
Has been stricken.
I second such a motion.
Alright. All in favor? Hearing none opposed.
So with that, I think we'll go ahead and get to the bus transformation project update. Laura Byala, is that correct?
Byala, I'm sorry, with Foursquare, so please take it away.
Okay, great. I think I've turned on my microphone. Okay, great. So I was here last in February to brief everyone about the pro1d what the project was, what the purpose of it was and what the scope was. What we're going to talk about today is a reminder of the project purpose, as well as the draft strategy that we brought out to the public at the end of May. I'll allude to some of the general themes that we heard from the public during that process, and talk about some next steps. I know Andrew was at one of the public meetings, were any of the other folks on the committee at one of the meetings? Okay.
Will White, our co-ch-, or my fellow co-chair and the RAC representative on the BTP advisory strategic
Strategy Advisory Panel?
Yeah. Thank you. He was at the meeting, was it Greenbelt?
There was, it was, there was one in Silver Spring, but I think he may have been it maybe came to a pop up somewhere else?
No, I think it was Silver Spring.
Yeah, okay, great. So I'll really quickly go through the the purpose of the project, because you probably all remember, basically, the genesis of the project was trying to address the fact that congestion, affordable transportation and mobility in the region are very difficult and are getting more difficult as the region continues to grow, and we want to make sure that the bus network is adequately serving serving the people in the region to get where they need to. Obviously Metrorail can only is only where it is, it only reaches about 25% of the region, so we want to make sure that the rest of this system is up to snuff and is really providing services that people can use. I feel like I'm echoing does it that just to me.
I think there's some feedback from Christian.
Hello, we're just...technical difficulties.
I don't hear the echo anymore. So maybe that fixed it. Can you hear me on the phone?
Yes, I can.
Okay, fantastic. Okay.
So, as you all know, the world of transportation is rapidly evolving. We've got TNCs out there, we have some on-demand shuttles that are being operated by private vendors. There's lots of different options for folks. And we want to make sure that you know, ridership is declining, and the transit operators are definitely feeling the pinch of that lower ridership. So the next next slide, go back one more. Two more, one more. Okay, cool. So it's past, basically, I think I use the same slide in February, it's kind of past time for the region to really evaluate the bus system. WMATA and the region focuses so much on rail, as you know, with the safety and with the repairs that we really need to focus on bus. So that's what this project is for. Attempting to try to reduce congestion, provide better options for people, make things more affordable for people to get around and better use the resources that we have and make things better for current riders as well as potential new riders. On the next slide, you can see that over the last five years, and obviously there's been two years since 2017, but this is based on nationally collected data, ridership in the region has gone down by 13%. And that's very similar across the country, there's a few cities that have managed to avoid that. But generally, it's been going down. And we want to, we want to improve. So I'm going to skip to the next slide so we can get to the results. So to solve these problems, we we really need to address a number of address a number of things, improve bus priority, improve technology, improve coordination, we as you know, we have so many bus operators in this region, and make things more affordable and provide better service. That's all at the core of what the bus transformation project strategy is. So just as a reminder, every time in here will refer to bus we don't just mean Metrobus, we mean all the bus services in the region that provide local bus service. We didn't look at commuter bus for this project. But we looked at ART and RideOn and Fairfax Connector and DC Circulator, and so on. We meet when we say bus, we also don't just mean 40 foot buses running around on fixed schedules, we also try to address these more flexible ondemand type buses that are popping up around. Many of you may know that RideOn has a flexible service pilot that just began a few weeks ago so that some of the jurisdictions are starting to get into that, that space. We also did not address paratransit service in the in the study, but none of the recommendations would have any impact on how paratransit fun- paratransit is funded or operated. So what we are trying to do is develop a regional strategic framework that everybody can buy into. It might not fit everybody's need, there might be some differences between the jurisdictions. But our idea is to have something that's regionally approved and and bought into. So, on the next slide, just to give you a little bit of a location as to where we are in the study. We started the study last spring in May, approximately May, we spent most of the summer through the early fall going out to a lot of folks to get some input to the study, set. And and we did it as a survey that we held last fall. And I believe that when I came here in February, I shared with you the results of that public survey, we're now we went out, as I mentioned to the public in May, with our draft strategy, we're now in the process of revising it based on all the feedback we got both in the public, as well as all the stakeholders in the region. And we will be once we finalize that the strategy will be developing a roadmap which is going to take the recommendations and the strategy, prioritize them based on a variety of factors how how easy they are to implement, how expensive they are, and so forth to try to spread them out over a 10 year period. So that we come out of this with a roadmap for actually making making the strategy reality.
Okay, next slide.
Just a reminder of the project vision on the next slide or two slides away, is to be the mode of choice on the region's roads by 2030. And be a strong backbone of the regional transit system. So on top of our strong backbone of Metro Rail have a strong backbone of us as well. The next slide has our goals. I won't review these because we reviewed them last time, you can see them on the slide, we'll move on. So the draft strategy, I know that a couple of you were at the meetings, maybe some of you that other folks around the room had an opportunity to look online where we posted the draft strategy, there's there was a very large 200 Plus page document that had lots of details online. There was also an executive summary. And if anybody didn't pick one up already, there, they're sitting, there's copies of them sitting on the table by the door, we tried to make our recommendations around six main elements. The bus should be customer focused, in terms of making it easy to use and something that people want to ride, we had another element talking about giving priority to buses on the region's roads to make buses more reliable. And also to better utilize our resources, the faster a bus can go. And the less delay it has, the more service we can provide with fewer buses. So it's making our it's making a wise fiscal choice, convenient bus service, we want to make sure that people throughout the region have frequent and convenient bus service. Because that's really fundamental to economic opportunity and educational opportunities for everyone throughout the region. The those three are sort of very customer focused, and people really understand them. The next ones are a little wonky year. And in some of the changes we're making to the strategy, we're trying to address that the number four we have is balanced local and regional provider responsibilities, there's a little bit of maybe more than a little bit of confusion as to what the role of Metro bus is and what the role of the local buses are. So we tried through this project and develop some parameters around what Metro bus should operate versus what some of the local buses should operate. The next element was about streamlining back office functions and sharing innovation among all the agencies that are operating. There's a lot of duplication among kind of the back office stuff, the marketing account, the procurement. And so we tried to have some recommendations around that. And then finally, if we're going to do numbers one through five, we need a regional steward to help make this happen. And we have some ideas on how to how to make that happen. But basically, there needs to be somebody in charge of moving this roadmap forward. So at the end of the day, when we have this roadmap, somebody, somebody leading the charge to start implementing it.
So I'll go
a little bit into some of the details of the elements. And, again, we're modifying this at the moment. So it wasn't quite ready to bring out to this group. But we wanted to share with you make sure that you were all aware of what went out to the public in May. So the recommendations under number element number one about making the system more customer focused and easy to use. First one takeaway is that you'll see in the next two elements, customers were more drawn to that than to this one, people caught the overall comment that is that people kind of wanted to go back to the basics, we want reliable and frequent service. And yes, we agree with pretty much all of A through J that are listed here. But the primary thing we want is frequent, reliable service. So with regard to this, these, these recommendations are all kind of within a few overall categories. One is plan your trip, make some making things more legible, making apps more inclusive of all the different modes that are out there. So that's the planning part, there's the pain part, which is making fairs clear and consistent making the way that you pay them similar and also making sure that fares are affordable. So we had a couple of affordability related recommendations. One being a reduced fare product for low income residents, we already have those for seniors and disabled but not for low income. And another recommendation is to allow customers to transfer for free between bus and rail. So both of those are related to payment. And then of course, you taking your trip, safe and convenient with safe bus stops and having a modern bus fleet that has the right technologies to keep the environment be good for the environment. And also make sure that the services reliable are next element. And this is prioritizing buses on major roads.
And this I would say was the most
liked by the public, they really liked the idea of this because it would it would allow buses to punch last to come more reliably. And and and like I said before, that's kind of what they want our recommendations to actually make that happen range from getting commitments by local jurisdictions to prioritizing buses on major corridors within their boundaries, and have some kind of regionally consistent guidelines. So there's lots of us priority projects that are happening throughout the region. But each jurisdiction has a different way of determining where they should put them. And it's sort of a patchwork, there's no real regional network planned for us priority by best priority, I should say it's not just bus lanes, it's also traffic signal priority where buses can, you know, get through a signal faster or q jobs, or other measures that will make the buses move faster. We also talk about enforcement because obviously if you don't enforce of us lane, it's of no use if you have cars parked in it. And then the DEA is is all about potentially offering financial incentives to jurisdictions to encourage the implementation of these regional priority guidelines. Because the you know, will not as you all know doesn't own any roads. So it's up to the idea behind this is to give some incentive to the jurisdictions that will moderate can have more priority on the roads. But it's also important for the other providers because a lot of the roads in Virginia are owned by v dot obviously be that isn't the one operating the transit, its arch and Fairfax connector. And so this is it. This is about trying to provide some not just this is the right thing to do, because it's going to move people more efficiently and provide more efficient transit service. But also, here's a little carrot to get you to make some implementation.
And the last one, which
he was a little confusing to people, but there's been a lot of talk in the region about congestion mitigation efforts. And this is sort of alluding to the fact that the plus transformation projects suggesting that at least there'll be some support and coordination between whatever the entity is that moves these recommendations forward and those and those efforts that are happening. On the next slide, frequent and convenient bus service, I already mentioned the importance of frequent and convenient bus service. The main recommendation or the first recommendation under the strategy is to develop a regional bus network plan that realigns the routes to create the most efficient bus system. All the jurisdictions tend to do their own bus planning individually and will not have takes on things piecemeal. And so this is sort of suggesting that we take a step back and develop original backbone system that would really serve the region the best. The next is about adopting consistent consistent guidelines across the regions that customers throughout the region can expect similar levels of service. For example, in Prince George's County, there's not a lot of local bus service on the weekend or fact there's none only Metrobus provide service there. And so trying to make things a little bit more consistent. And then the third is alluding to not just having
route fixed schedule buses, but providing some on demand services where fixed route may not make the most make the most sense.
On the next slide.
This one is again, the one that was a little bit the public,
you know had a little difficulty grasping, grasping this. But this is about balancing local and regional provider responsibilities between Metrobus and the locals, we did at the public meetings have exercise where we asked people to put a post it note on an air on a board saying whether they prefer Metro bus, whether they would prefer, you know,
their local bus, you know, art
or therapist connector and so forth, or whether they don't care. And it was it was an interesting, interesting results we got we got a lot of I don't care as long as it comes on time and frequently. And then we did have a few, you know a few other comments specifically about why they would like Metro bus or local bus in terms of their perceptions of which one would be more attuned to their neighborhood needs or which one they think they think is more reliable, and so forth. So we talked to folks about that. And the recommendations underneath this element are basically to position the regional bus system IE Metro bus to provide the services that meet the regional needs, that Metro bus is focused on that and that the locals are more focused on more locally oriented service. The next recommendation was to revise the cost that local jurisdictions pay will monitor that it's more line with the actual cost that that cost will manage provide the service. And then finally, develop a plan to optimally allocate the services because of course, any movement around the bus service needs us garages and vehicles and so forth. So there has to be it can't be done overnight. So whatever plan comes out of it, we need to have a plan to to move that forward over time.
This next element, we're probably going to be
subsuming some of these recommendations under the other elements in our final version, but we really want to streamline the back office functions and share innovation between jurisdictions. So for example, if if Fairfax County's pilot is successful, we want the other jurisdictions to learn what they learned, or if it's not successful, learn what maybe could be done better next time, so that we are sharing innovations and learning over over the region. So I won't spend a lot of time on these, but it's about consolidating back office functions, functions, establishing a regional mobility, innovation labs, that less learning can be shared more easily. And then also develop regional standards for data collection, formatting, sharing. And that's useful for the transportation planners to be able to, you know, look at things across the region and make better planning decisions. But it's also useful for provision of real time information and planning.
And finally, our last element is about
a regional steward to help implement these recommendations. And there was definitely a lot of strong support for the concepts of better cooperation and better accountability by the bus providers. So we didn't, as part of the strategy define exactly what this organization would be. What we recommended was that a task force will be formed and would be responsible for the first few years. And that would be kind of would ease in later to a coalition that would oversee the implementation of this roadmap. And we also had a recommendation about holding transit agencies accountable for prioritizing investors a primary mode of transportation, so having some metrics and reporting requirements, and finally, publishing bus performance scorecard, to drive accountability. On the next slide, I alluded to this on a previous the previous slide that had kind of an arrow. But basically, we are here in the refine the strategy and define the expected outcomes. We will be we've done as you can see, on the right side, we've done our public outreach, we had an online survey that was open for a month where we sought input on the different recommendations. And that's where a lot of my comments come from in terms of what the public said. And we also held meetings with the strategy advisory panel and the technical team, where we heard great detail from them on their comments on the on the draft strategy. So we're, we're working those comments. And as well, we've also done briefings throughout the region for various boards and committees. And the very last one will be on July 25, when we briefed the will model board, as you may or may not remember that there's an executive steering committee that's kind of providing leadership on this study. So while they have been very involved in defining the strategy, they will be the chair of that committee will be presenting to the board on July 25. And also, we've received a lot of written comments for elected officials that we've been incorporating. So, and the next step, as I mentioned, is to finalize the strategy and then crafted into this kind of roadmap, recipe book for how we're going to implement. If you would like more information, there's lots of information online. In addition to all these items that are listed there, we just today or yesterday posted the PowerPoint results of the most recent survey, summary of public comments and a summary of stakeholder comments. So those are also on the website.
That's all I have. So any questions or comments?
Happy to kick us
off. So I think its overall pretty fantastic work so far. I'll be it ambitious. I imagined this is likely to require some pretty significant budgetary commitments from a number of jurisdictions, potentially governmental transfers and things of that nature. So with that in mind, what do you see as kind of the lowest hanging fruit? And then I guess my second question is, which aspects of this do you feel like are most likely to require action by the board in terms of steering the agency's policies in a way that facilitates implementation this plan?
Those are good questions.
And to be honest, I haven't thought about that too much, because we've been very much in the weeds of updating the draft strategy, basically, the multitudes of comments that we received. I think that some of the easier ones. There's already well, Mata has at some stage and I keep forgetting exactly what stage but some stage of piloting some reduced fare program, is that correct?
So that's something that's kind of already happening. There has been a lot of discussion among the different bus providers about data. So I see the data sharing and data consistency. So I see that as a pretty easy one. Consistent fair payment mechanisms is also something obviously we all know, smart trip works on all the buses now. But But, but there's, there's movement to you know, move to a more modern electronic version of fair payments. So that could that could happen sooner. I think that another one that could happen in the first couple years, is developing this regional bus network. That's a pretty low hanging fruit because it doesn't involve implementation funds, which are more expensive than and planning funds for sure. And I do think, though, that developing, as well as developing priority quarter guidelines across the region, because that the priority for buzz really came across as the highest, the highest importance for the customers. And so I think that would will bump it to the top in terms of what the board needs to do. I think the jury's still out on that because of the fact that this is not necessarily it's not while Amada has funded this study. It's not a well modest study. And so I would defer to will might have stopped to answer that question.
If Allison, if you have anything to share?
Perhaps I can rephrase that a bit. What I'm really driving here is, is given that, you know, Armada is one of many entities who will need to be coordinating and the implementation
of this plan and be successful.
And, you know,
in our capacity of our responsibility of advising
you know, I guess the question is really, what, what are the decision points likely to be? Are the big decision points likely to be?
Sorry, is this Can you hear me now?
a lot of about the fares, right. So if if that is something that's the region mean, obviously, Walmart is funded by the region. So if those are those go forward, and you know, from what we heard from the customers, having, like, making fares, affordable was came out, second to plus priority as kind of the big, the big thing. So those are, those are things that obviously, through the budget process would have to be would have to be handled.
Much of the bus priority is really,
on others, those who own and operate the roads. And that was really one of the impetus for this, that, you know, making bus better is not solely the operators issue, right, like that challenges is borne by road operators. So that is something that's a bit more focused on road operators, I'm sorry, I'm like, thinking through these as I as I go, um, if, you know, the the regional bus network plan that that's proposed. And again, like, as Laura pointed out, these are still this is this is the draft, and we're still formulating the final, and we're waiting to, you know, talk to the board and a couple weeks and hear from you guys as well. That network plan, like whatever comes out of that, and how that moves forward is obviously something that would impact where Walmart operates, what routes it operates on. And then finally, like, element for the way it's currently drafted, that talks to what is regional, what is non regional, how our power costs allocated. And so those are all, again, issues that the board has taken action on in the past, and that would that would require that and then lastly, Part Six, which is really who's going to lead this, who's going to lead this charge? And there's been discussion, you know, whether that's something that the transportation planning board or that will modify, or like, there are a bunch of organizations who could maybe not in their current structure. So that's something that's still to be determined. Hi,
my proposal is the kind of
question I have is, what are the incentive structures that Armada has for both road operators and other local jurisdictions? because on one hand, here, we're talking about, okay, well, let's get them on board about how they plan out routes. And then it's like, then also them potentially, you know, having different fair rates, like so what is the what's the carrot and stick method in terms of actually moving these other people, these other groups along with the plan, which is great.
Yeah, so one that I mentioned, one carrot that I mentioned, and it's not, it's a recommendation that needs to be fleshed out further. And the roadmap is this potential for Walmart to provide some matching funds to the jurisdictions to help incent them to, to put it implement bus priority. So that's, that's one of the things like the free transfer between Bessemer l would be costly for very costly for Romana. So in order to, which would be it would be a very nice for the customers, but we probably would increase ridership and so forth, but we certainly would have to that would be tells us pointed definitely a something that would have to go through the board, we'd have to find funding to make up that difference somewhere.
income fair product, obviously, we want something that could work, not just a measure of us, but if there were something you'd want to work on Metro bus and, and the local operators. So that would be that's certainly a carrot for the jurisdiction, a carrot for the customers.
I wouldn't say that we have identified too many
other than the idea that this
this group in elements six that has yet to be identified would be responsible for making sure that all of this gets implemented.
You have any other input on that? I mean, really the
stick is that we're
there, you know, we are spending a lot of money to put Buster us out on the street by we it's you know, all operators combined jurisdictions, everyone, ridership is down, and we're seeing this in the city after city. So the stick is essentially like we could keep doing what we're doing. Or we can take and a lot of the work that's in here, our best practices or improvements in other regions have either piloted or, you know, fully endorsed and implemented and are seeing the benefits of that. So it's kind of the it's not necessarily the case, stick that you're gonna like for someone to do it. But the stick is kind of
yeah. And we we like literally from an affordability for this region from, you know, congestion from the reduction in ridership, like we can't continue with that. So that is and I think what we have seen from all the variety of stakeholders who have been engaged in this is that, that people understand that the status quo can't continue. That's not the way forward.
have two questions for you to one of the second of which is extraordinarily walking this morning.
The first is about this task force, you
both sort of alluded to the potential for it, do you have any sense of who might be on it? Who would lead it? What groups need to be a part of this task force in order to make it work for the first couple of months? And the second question is, I'm wondering if you are considering modeling
any of the the future
organization here on the the German system of their cares?
If you are familiar with those at all?
will say let's take the first one first.
That, that on the task force. Yeah, we've started to throw around some ideas. But I what we're planning to do during the once we get the strategy finalized, and it's over the next few months,
finish that, so in, you know, late summer, early fall, when we're developing the roadmap, is we're going to be looking into some more research into what other cities have done developing organizations that are pushing us forward. There's some throughout the United States that are kind of new, in in Atlanta and in San Francisco, and I believe in Seattle's we're going to be kind of seeing, looking into more what they've been doing and trying to define a list of my on this task force. But right now, we haven't, we haven't yet identified anybody or any organization. To my knowledge,
it was in here was purposely vague to kind of force the conversation what we didn't want to say, All right, let me pose this one. And then everyone focuses on that doesn't really think about what the alternatives could be. But it is really making sure that it's decision makers, its decision makers, from all the operators, decision makers from the do t so that it's not a meeting, and then everyone goes back to their organization and it, you know, work through all those various processes, and maybe in six months, like something else happens, right? It was, it's a way to force
to ensure that bus is at the forefront of the conversation, because I think we can all say that, that's
not been the case in
most conversations happening here and in the various jurisdictions and
regional bodies around this this region. And so it's a way to make sure that the right people are at the table.
But we haven't gotten to exactly whether
I'm not familiar with the German example, are you? Can you spell that maybe, and we will be sure to look into it.
They are regional organizations that exist in most German
cities, milsom, German metropolitan areas, German speaking. So I think they're also in Austria and Switzerland,
where all the transit agencies in that region coordinate. So there's one fair pass for the entire region, one monthly pass that works for everybody and the bear keras verbal and which
is the organization that does all the behind the scenes coordination of the routing,
the schedule, coordination, and then coordinating all the fare payments behind the scenes. So the customer just buys a monthly pass and doesn't have to care about anything. The
classes, they all are
a part of this and coordinate.
If I could just interject for a second.
There were some recent pieces on greater Greater Washington by Ralph.
I forget his name, I think his last name.
I'm sorry. Yeah, Ralph Bueller. Bueller. Sorry, I'm on greater Greater Washington. And
I, yeah, it's a great model, it works very well, in the Austrian cities that I've used it, I used to live in Austria,
coordinate the regional
as they say, these days.
Okay, so I'm gonna move on to our next and
final questions from Valerie and Andrew. But before,
before we do, I'm just going to go ahead and put it up
for writer representation.
but sometimes customers have competing needs. And so I'm wondering if you have a mechanism or framework Do you have people vote? Most most in particular? I think that sometimes, I I'm very concerned about people who have kids who are not riding the bus because you have to take your baby, baby carriage. And I still am intrigued because you know, I look at those baby carriages. And I look at people's grocery carts, they look about the same width, you can take your grocery card on, overflowing with all kinds of stuff, but you can't take a baby on. So I did not see, you know, making getting on the bus easier for folks. Maybe it's in there. But what things would actually affect customer in addition to great fear and getting to their place on time.
I think it's I think that, you know, we've certainly talked about that the issue with the baby carriage. We've talked about other things that aren't and that aren't shining through this is a summary. You know, things like afford fair payment and limited stops and all that is within the
big document. I don't think we got to the
I don't I don't think we address the baby carriage issue in our big, big strategy. I think that's a very tactical point that I think we you know, we can bring back to to Armada and talk about it some more. But it is not. It's not in here right now.
I think that's a good point. And I just have recently read and they aren't all that recent articles, some articles and blogs about people saying no, I'm sorry, this transportation does not work for me, because I have two kids. I can't put one on each arm and carry the stroller so
far, I made a comment earlier that I was worried I wasn't gonna speak loud enough tonight without you being here to remind me. First of all, let me thank the both of you for coming. It's nice to see you again. I, as pretty usual, have a long series of questions that I'll try and keep very brief.
was looking at the other day, the 2003.
the 2000. I think this
was 2006, the priority corridor network study, and also the implementation of the priority corridors. And then, of course, coming back to our old friends, the 2018 stabilizing and growing Metro ridership report. So question one is basically, how is this time different? I mean, it's, I don't,
I didn't make it through the whole 2003 bus study. It's tragic.
It's very long. But
the question is, like, I don't remember I didn't see if it called for kind of the regional coordinating model that that the BCP is theoretically calling for or will hopefully provide.
Second question relates to the June
Matthew Letourneau, I forget how to say his last name.
Signed? What I mean, the way I read to me is that that he thinks that you all are, you know, the DTP purpose is just to shift Metro bus routes to
the local providers. So
Metro bus can can raise their can use more of that subsidy in light of the 3%. cap. I wasn't sure if kind of the steering committee of ATP, or one of the bodies on their technical team had kind of responded to that. And, yeah, I would also just put that plug for the DC Metro bus report card that was published today, if you all didn't see it,
by the Coalition for smarter growth and Metro hero.
So I wasn't sure if that you all seen that yet came out this morning. So
yeah, we're we're actually when we're done here, going to head over to the event where they're going to be sharing, hopefully, sharing right now, currently sharing that and hopefully some of the details behind it.
Your first question about how is this time different.
Couple of things come to my mind. I'm sure Allison has others. One is that this has
higher level of interest and participation. So none of these other studies have had a group outside of the people who do transit each and every day working on it. So the our executive steering committee, doesn't have any do t directors doesn't have any transit operators. It is chaired by Rob point days, who's the head of the you know, foundation for transportation. We have on there. Neal Peterson, who's the head of the Transportation Research Board, we have Chuck bean from from cog and a variety of other people, many of them who were in transportation, but are now retired. And so we have folks that don't necessarily deal with this every moment really advocating for this. And we also are lucky to have some groups within the region like CS G and Greater Washington partnership who are really supporting the effort. And also within within Walmart, this, you know, this effort is really being championed by Paul, we developed himself. And I don't think any of the other studies had quite a as high of a level of top down kind of direction as this has. So I think I think that's that that's different. The other thing that's different is that the other three studies that you mentioned, if, if I'm not mistaken, are all focused on Metrobus, whereas this is, this is incorporating all of the buses, bus services in the region. And we've had as part of the ticket in the end, the strategy advisory panel had representatives from all the operators all along the way. They certainly they agree with some parts, as you noted, they don't agree with other parts. But I think that's those are the two main differences that I see is the higher level involvement and the beyond measure of us focus.
On mean, I would also say that, you know,
we didn't want this to sit on the shelf, right, and acknowledging that not everything that gets recommended is ever going to be implemented. And I mean, if you look at the pcn report from 2008, a lot of the things that are in there have been done, right? whether they've actually met, you know, if we said we were going to do it in 2010. And it happened in 2012, or 13. Like that, as it may, but the so partially it is having that task for so it's making sure that you know, coming out of this, like we have started that process, also having the action plan and having that report card that's in there in elements sick so that there's an independent body actually reporting out annually saying, okay, you know, the region said we would come out with a low income fair product, if that's in there and said it would happen by 2021. It's 2021. Like, where is it? So kind of starting to have that accountability to what's in what's in that report.
I can take the first crack at the your read of NVTC letter, which is their expression that they felt that a lot of the recommendations of the study were focused around divesting armada of some of its service that was certainly not the focus of the study was, you know, one of our six elements, we are making some modifications to the strategy is based on the feedback that we received from NBC and some of the other jurisdictions. This was it was not intended to be a this is Oh, this is our trick to reduce to keep ourselves to within 3%. The idea behind it was that Metro bus has been over time distracted for lack of a better word, operating services that are really not the best use of regional bus, bus, regional bus service, there are certainly Metro bus routes, for example, that maybe could use more service, but are not able to have that because they're being used for local service. So the idea was really to, to get people, this is a really old fashioned term that popped into my head a few months ago, and I keep saying it, stick to their knitting. It's like an economics term about like, stick to what you do best and what you are best suited for. And, and so that's really what it was about. That said, like I said, we are we we take their comments seriously. And we have some potential changes to the strategy that will hopefully ameliorate their concerns and allow us all to move forward to develop something that works for the region. Go ahead, make it
I appreciate it.
Looking back at the pcn study, looking back to 2003 study, one of the things that we wanted to see or excuse me, we wasn't around here at the time that that was going to be implemented was real time bus information. And looking at one of the priority corridor networks that I know not well, but I've used it a lot is Columbia Pike were only recently did they install real time bus information.
But even there, those screens
don't include the screens, which are a brilliant idea. Don't include our buses, they don't include anything that's you know, they're only one lot of buses. Art has an API, one moto has an API. There are products that bring them together their apps to do this. Why? Why is what should be an easy one. Why is that? So basic, because it seems like the PTP is also filled with easy wins things that could be implemented here. And that also could
that that is kind of a point
of, it's again, like,
I mean, so I mean, you bring up the the 2003 study. So that's, obviously 16 years ago. And so
a lot of this is kind of, you do the planning, the first couple years, things move along, and then other things happen, and people are distracted, and you know, not necessarily distracted, but like moving on to other things. And so, partially for this, it is bringing those types of things back again, using the customer
responses that we got from the surveys and
you know, talking to various
groups like yourself, like, these are the things that matters, like, the question isn't about Wi Fi on the buses, right? It's not about, you know, whatever, you know, random thing that
yes, thank you shiny object. It's doing
do better, right and doing in the fundamentals. And like, that's what really came became clear in terms of the public feedback, we got into the point of the MBC letter. And there are many other letters like that, that are now on the website.
It is kind of saying like, some of these things,
operators and we, as your sexual providers
do, because it's within our jurisdiction, right, like we can control within this, you know, in this box, and so the customers asking for, they want something that feels unified, they want something that's easy to use. So what are those things that we can do to, you know, why do I have to go to three different apps to see when the circulator is coming versus when I live in the district when the circulator is coming when the metro buses? I mean, like, it should just be in one place. It shouldn't be that hard. And,
yeah, yeah. And just to add on to that, is that as part of the roadmap, we're going to be defining detailed steps under each of these recommendations. So there is in terms of the recommendation for for in your example, for, you know, trip planning and real time information. One of the things that we're going to be doing to define the roadmap is okay, to make it consistent to make consolidated information on real time information displays, these are all the technical steps that have to happen in the political things that have to happen. And okay, based on that, and other inputs, you know, that's going to take X amount of time. And so, these are very high level, but we will be getting into the details of what exactly needs to happen, it will be working closely with the providers, all the other providers to to develop what what all those steps are. So hopefully, we'll get there. Much.
I'm gonna let you go and watch it while we're rotating speakers, and it will be it will be on the record. Thank you very much.
Okay, just want to make sure that we avoid turf wars in this whole thing with when we're working in this kind of task force, that will always come up. And I just think it's extremely important to avoid the turf wars, if whoever is selected, or you're thinking of, you know, as a coordinator, because the same thing that comes up with the real time, it's a matter of turf wars, and I think that we have.
Gentlemen, thank you for your patience. We are now joined by Jim Hamre, Michael Weinberger and Mark Bowman to hear about how the Platform Improvement Project is going.
Good afternoon. We have a presentation, I think Mark's going to take the lead on talking about outreach efforts. Is that correct?
Yeah, so we last time we were here we were I think it was April, the last time we visited this group, and we were talking about all the finalization that we were going through, as far as plans for the shuttles and how excited we were as a communications team, which I represent about deploying a whole variety of tactics for the project, this scale. And we wanted to come back. And we're excited to give you an update on how things are going, operationally, and how things are going from a communications and customer outreach standpoint. So we'll start with Jim and Michael, and they can tell you how things are going with the shuttles, and then I'll let you know how things are going with communications.
Okay, well, in short, they're going great. We, as you can see, have five shuttles that were established. I think when we were here, last the landmark shuttle hadn't been finalized. And with the aid of the city of Alexandria and commitment by the landmark mall management, we've been able to create a park and ride location, and it's proven very successful for folks on the west end of Alexandria. Five shuttles have been performing very well. In fact, when we were developing this, and we did all the survey work, I don't remember what's on the next slide.
Just the map,
yeah, just the math. We had anticipated that we would be caring about 18,000 people a day. That would be quite successful that the surveys that were conducted, the customers when they responded and said what they were going to do and during this period, matched up to the planning figures and all of the research we done to estimate so we stood up a shuttle network that had 65 buses and contract operators. over the road coaches during the weekdays, Metro bus does a piece of the service on the weekends. And then we also had six Metro bus routes that were being supplemented to help distribute the demand but also to bring the service closer to where people wanted to start from and go to.
So we reset.
We had a trial run on May 4th and 5th, when we learned a lot about operating shuttles on the weekends and had a real positive response to that. Got ready, applied our lessons, the 24th comes along, go through that and in the Memorial Day weekend and Tuesday shows.
One of the things that had happened between the original planning and the implementation was the Metro Board approved free parking at Franconia, and Huntington. Franconia has about 4000 parking spaces, Huntington is around 2800. The Landmark Shuttle has free parking, you just have to sign up to so they can contact you should there be an issue. And so on that first day, we actually lost track. But we think we got somewhere close to 30,000 people that showed up. We were pulling buses left and right off of regular services and out of the garages and mobilizing drivers. And just we kept putting buses in and the line kept coming and the line kept coming and the line kept coming.
So we quickly regrouped. And for the first couple of weeks of operation Metro bus is putting out 30 supplemental buses every day to support the operations. That is the peak time of tourist season, so our contractors didn't have resources they could bring to bear, they were all committed to trips to Miami or the high school tour to Washington, DC and other places. So anyway, beginning on June 17, our our contractors were able to start mobilizing and the first phase was an additional 20 buses. On the 24th we got nine additional buses. And then on the first of July, they brought in 31 extra buses. So we're now up to a total of 125 contract buses that are involved in providing service on the three shuttles. The first week we carried 148,000 riders. Second week we carried 152,000 riders, and then schools let out, so we settled down to about 125,000 per week.
The average weekday ridership on the five shuttles is around 25,000 people. The Landmark Shuttle is churning along at about 900 to 1000 riders a day to and from. The Huntington Express is carrying almost 5600 on an average day. Franconia Express is really the big hauler with almost 7000 riders. The local yellow is on weekdays about 6200 and the blue local that's operated by our local partner the Alexandria transit company DASH is averaging about 5600 riders a day
We had been really concerned that we were going to just get wiped out at Washington National Airport where people would ride to the end of the rail and then get off and overwhelm the buses that were there because it's a very small station as you know, the traffic flow through there is quite bad. Apparently, the experiences of earlier in the spring and last fall, convinced people not to do that. So they've been riding the shuttles, the expresses, and using Crystal City. And it's been almost the perfect amount of riders at at the airport to fully utilize the buses and not have crowding and, and have a good positive experience.
One of the challenges that we encountered that we've not done before in any of our shuttles is the fact that our bus stations were closed, and we had to relocate away from them in order to provide the service we had. And so at Braddock road, we're sort of operating in a whole new configuration, it took us a little bit to figure out how to properly do that. King Street, as you know, was under construction already. And so it's always subject to congestion. But with patients we get through that what we encountered at Huntington was was really unexpected, because we had the idea, you know, there's there's two sides to Huntington station, there's the south side on North Kings Highway, which is the higher elevation. And then there's the lower elevation on Huntington Avenue, that's also the north side. And depending on who you are, and what your frame of references, people have different names for that the different sides of that station, many people don't realize there is another end because they only use the one. So we had originally had the shuttle configuration where we started the south and you go down to the north, and you'd look through the bus loop and then you go on to the Pentagon or go on to Eisenhower Avenue. What we found is that because these are 45 foot long coaches, and because of the way they put the construction office in the middle of the bus loop, and because we lost half of the bus, to lay down locations and crane placements, that when one of our shuttle buses came in there, nobody could go past it. And so we were literally constrained in the in the frequency of buses being able to go through there. And we struggled with different configurations of doing that. And finally just realized this isn't going to work, we've got to break it apart. So we moved the Express shuttle out on to Huntington Avenue. And we combine that with splitting the two sides on the Express because we hadn't anticipated having 5600 people writing. So we have a an expressed it starts at North Huntington and goes direct to the Pentagon during peak periods, and one that starts at the south and goes direct to the Pentagon. So you don't waste the folks in the south time running through the north and vice versa. During off peak and weekends, we combine it because they're the ridership is much lighter, and there isn't as much congestion. Once we pulled the two pieces apart and move the Express out onto the street. things really started humming. It was a little confusing to the customers because we did three different transitions. But I think in the end, it really benefited everybody. And as a result, we have sustained the ridership that we had in those first weeks. And we
have gotten actual compliments from some people for the performance of the shuttle, it's half the price and takes half the time, and 'can you please keep it' is my favorite quote. And so with that, with the continuing evolution of service, and then I wanted to highlight the Pentagon, we were we learned a lesson from the last time we ran out of the Pentagon. So we moved all the shuttles up to the upper level for green that gave us more space, that gave us easier access, more visibility. And boy did we need it because between 430 and 615, we're moving 7000 people through the transit center in the afternoon, to catch those two shuttles to go back, those three shuttles to go back home. And let me tell you, when you're standing there, and you see 400 people come off of the train and up the stairs up the escalator and they start heading for the shuttle, it is an impressive sight. People have have turned and run the other way when they saw that coming. But we've been able to work very closely with the Pentagon folks with our transit police, with our operators, with the supervisors, with the customer service folks the Marks Company has provided to be able to set up a line of information and control and guidance points. So sometimes will, that line will get long and then buses come in, and we just shorten it right back up. And with the extra buses we have now, it's just a matter of how fast we can get them through there. And the customers are used to it, they know what to do, they know how to whether they're going to the north side or south side of Huntington, and they just flow through. And it's really working. Slick. We're really, really proud of how it's working. And, and so the you know, results are, you know, really good ridership sustained over the course of the summer. And we look forward we've done six and a half weeks. And we look forward to the other eight and a half.
Look forward to getting completed, but meanwhile, we'll continue to provide great service. Mark?
I just wanted to add and echo Jim's comments beyond what we've been able to do with the five free shuttle route services, we've done something different to enhance the customer care experience for persons with disabilities. So last summer, when we did the red line shuttle, we had our standby of Metro buses that are low for transit vehicles providing that support. So you're having, you know, one to five people, you know, utilizing that that bus, and that bus has to get into those stations. And as Mr. Hamre noted, the station areas have a lot of activity going on besides the shuttle program. So we were able to contract with a ADA van service, that van is able to hold up to four individuals making use of a wheel chair. And so our customers with disabilities can, you know, reconfigure that vehicle to include ambulatory riders, whether it's a family member or a support staff member. And we found that that's also been exceptionally helpful. You know, all of our coach vehicles are ADA compliant, of course, but that lift takes about 15 minutes, which impacts our on time performance. So by using these vans, we've been able to, you know, move people between the Express routes where they're able to get a comparable service where on the Franconia express or on the Huntington Express, you know, you would have a point to point service to the Pentagon, they're getting that. And then during the week on the yellow line shuttle, they're also getting that support and DASH's vehicles are low floor transit, they operate seven days a week. So they're perfectly accessible as well, of course, as our Metro buses, which run the yellow line shuttle service on the weekend.
Really good point, we're, the customer feedback has been quite positive, I think we've been doing about 50 trips a week. So it's being utilized and serving the purpose. And then lastly, I just wanted to highlight that for July 4, we weren't quite sure what to expect. When we looked at the ridership out of those six stations. Last July 4, there were about 28,000 riders, and about 8000 of them all went home at the same time. And so we were really concerned about being adequately prepared. Fortunately, our contractors were able to provide some additional buses, Metro bus was able to sign up additional drivers, we had somewhere around 60 extra buses waiting to transport folks home after the fireworks. Unfortunately, it rained and sort of damp into the crowd. But we still had a surge crowd surge load of about 2800 people in that 10 o'clock hour. And for the day carried 14,000 riders. So that was significantly above a normal Saturday, about half of a regular weekday. And so we were real pleased to be able to support the mobility not only for weekdays, but also for the holidays.
to the next slide, please. So here we are at 60 days left in the shutdown. And did you know this is the longest continuous shut down in Metro rails 43 year history, it's a big deal. And a lot of agencies around the country are looking at how we handle this because they have stated we have repair projects and infrastructure that's aging, and they want to see if this could be something that they want to try. But we're being the guinea pig for it. So last time I was here with you, our team was talking about preparing station specific brochures which has never been done by Metro foreclosure before. We were doing a very unique and specific station signage package for each station that was way more specific than it's been done in the history of Metro before. And we I don't think we were fully prepared for the amount of work that it would be. But we've certainly felt like it was worth it. And we've learned a lot of good lessons to take forward to year two and year three of this project, we to date have produced over 780 signs for this project. And those are just the signs that you see at the stations. And going back to the Pentagon, we've learned so many good lessons at that station that we're going to take into year two and year three, with customer communications, such as putting banners up at stations. If you've been through Pentagon, we have the floor decals, people in line, which we're going to do more of in the future. And then we've had a lot of success with something that was kind of impromptu decision with signs on sticks, where the street teams members can actually hold up a sign to let people know which line to go into. And so it's kind of interesting to see that these things that are so simple and basic have actually been the best practices
that we're going to take
forward in two years, two years three. Speaking of street teams, there, you really can't overstate the importance of these people.
For a crowd of people who may be tourists,
people who may be regular rail riders, and are comfortable writing buses. And we have them at these stations for the duration of the closure, which has never been done before. Or closures in the past. And this is certainly I think above and beyond customer service.
And we're very proud of these people and the support they're providing at these close stations,
even if it's like Jim said, even if they're just being like a human signpost and as Michael would say, and letting people know which line to get into and where the line ends
feel very good about our street teams.
wanted to share with you also some survey results that we're pretty excited about as a communications team, we had a survey of over 1000 people between June 14 through 23rd. And they were registered smarter card holders. The survey was weighted against June 2018 ridership levels, which was I think red line shut down is why they're basing it on that to make a comparison.
Next slide, please.
So we have very high levels of awareness and trust, we had almost 99% of people aware of the shutdown before it started, which is I think quite astonishing. That we had such a high level of awareness, we had a news crew out of one of the stations before they closed and they were looking for someone who didn't know about it. And the only people they were able to find it didn't know stations were going to be closed.
So we felt pretty good about that. As
you can see, that's a higher level than red line shut down previously. And two or three people actually understood which alternatives they were going to take, which to me is more important than understanding that it's closed. Certainly we can improve upon that. But I think that's the majority of people knew their alternatives. That's pretty good.
nine out of 10 people knew why they were shutting down the station that's significantly higher than red line. And two and three, trust that the shutdown
is necessary. I think,
anecdotally speaking, when I'm talking with people and let them know that this is a safety and accessibility issue, almost every person, not every person understands that this is necessary, and they respect your decision to shut them down and get them fixed. So I just wanted to share with you a fun thing that we're doing. On the communication side, it's
you haven't been there, it's will model.com slash
platforms progress. This is project blog. It's something metros never really done before is have a blog. And it's really just an update page. But we call it a blog, where we have a place to share long form content and give people a glimpse behind the scenes. And we're going to be doing a lot more with that now that our teams have a chance to breathe and do the hard stuff. This is going to be the fun stuff where we get to do videos and updates for people and let them follow along. And so we're every other week we're going to be providing a construction update. And tomorrow's updates going to drop around midday but I want to share with you a preview of that update before it goes live. So can here's what's going on the concrete edges if most of the stations are nearly complete, which means if you can see along the edge, they're able to lay the granite slab along the edge and then they can move to the center of the platforms
putting the concrete
water proving that and
playing the tactile strip as you see there on that photo in Braddock road. Also the canopies
are getting worked on the finished
skylight trainings nearly complete.
And they should be getting glass next week. So the picture in the middle is King Street. It's a refurbished canopy. And then on the left Braddock is one of the first stations to get new tiles was exciting to see that happening on that platform. And then on the right, it's a new windscreen is going to be a new stainless steel windscreen at the stations. And I think that's having
tuned in that photo.
So please follow along, we're going
to have a lot of good content over the course of the summer. And thank you.
And I just close by saying one of the great realizations that goes into this is all the support activities that are needed to be able to support the staff that are supporting the customers. And Michael has been one of the lead heroes in being able to, we've had to create a restroom program, to be able to support, we've had to create a water and Gatorade and ice distribution program, we've had to create a major maintenance inspect facility inspection and repair program to go along with maintaining the temporary bus stops that are you know, not permanent, they're temporary. So there, every time a bus bumps into it, it has to be repaired and things and the replacement of the signage. And I'm again, I think one of the realizations is we weren't really aware of how much continuous effort was going to be needed just to sustain the facility people to be able to serve this support the service to support customers. And as we move forward, we hope that we have additional staff and contractors supports to be able to really make that as sustainable as serviceable effort. But I think the bottom line you can see is great acceptance by the customers real success in maintaining transit as a viable mode motive track travel for the commuters and for visitors and Alexandria and South Fairfax. And we look forward to continuing real positive progress on the purpose of the event, which is the rail reconstructions but also look forward to the fall when we can welcome back our customers and have different activities to
recognize that and to
increase the ridership as a result.
planning and monitoring that you've done and continue to do on this.
The real heroes are the folks standing on those platforms every day for eight hours, regardless of the weather.
And yeah, and Monday was quite a dramatic day.
I don't have any specific questions, but it looks like a few of us. Clarence I saw your sign go first.
energy partner, just one being mindful becoming a victim of your own success. How is the success of this project going into sort of Metro planning for other larger scale potential shutdowns in other areas where in which like this might become one of those things?
You doing so well. And then the second part is just like, you know, obviously, building a new rail lines is harder to do. But how does this also, this information that is planning this out working with potentially doing
and adding in rapid
boss lives in other parts of the city not tied to a construction
project, but at least
you can apply? First one
yet. So if you go to Walmart, com slash platforms, we have a series of different resources, but it includes the future 2020 and 21 2021. Plans for the platform improvement project. What I can notice we're already beginning our planning process for next summer. That's going to include a shutdown from Greenbelt, south to Fort Totten. So service will be going southbound from Fort Totten. But northbound we will have to look at local and express services, we will also be doing a shutdown not just in Maryland in Prince George's County, but we thought why not take what we did this summer and do it in two areas. So they're looking at Vienna to eSports church as well. So the final dates are still being vetted as we are still securing our contractor, and preparing. But what I'll say is this to Jim's point, and to Mark's point, we have to be prepared much earlier for some of the ancillary features that, you know, move beyond just the shuttles. So for example, mobilization of the sites, we've already become meeting with our construction department, our parking department, and engaging actively with our Ada department, because when you look at a station like Greenbelt, these are stations with massive parking lots and cut into auxiliary roads and connect to highways. So we're looking at the road network, we're looking at the ridership information. And we're beginning to develop our initial recommendations for service plans. But we know that the communication has to be collaborative. And the feedback that we received regarding communication process also is giving us insights into how we can, you know, provide an even more visible program next year. And I'm excited to take some of the feedback we got in areas like you know, things like real time information, or, you know, working on trip planning, as well as you know, the maps and information that we have, how can we kind of use the time now that we have and, and get ahead of this.
And as far as
implications for what you all were talking about earlier on bus transformation.
We are without a doubt demonstrating the foresight and value of having the HIV lanes which were originally built as the surely highway bus way and in 1983. And having in Alexandria, dedicated HIV lanes on several of the major roads that we're using, really is paying off benefits, we could not move this volume of people through normal everyday congested traffic and Old Town. The fact that people in Huntington, were able to wrap their minds around the fact that if you ride the bus through Springfield, and then up the HIV, which seems like way out of your way, we're actually able in the in the early morning to deliver people in 25 minutes to the Pentagon by using the Beltway by using the bus on shoulder and then the age of feelings going in there and and that's an infrastructure that pays dividends over and over and over every day. And so hopefully, that will be something we can point to when we're talking about bus lane extensions on georgia avenue or the project on 16th Street or the temporary project on H and I and some of the things that Virginia is talking talking about. There's a real boost in efficiency and capacity that go along with that. And, and that's really what, you know, Metro way, Metro way ridership sup 50% I mean, that's an integral part of the network of supporting Braddock road and Crystal City area and giving alternatives to the shuttle buses when they get blocked. And you know, it's it's all part of offering a network of choice. And I think our riders are taking full advantage of that. And, and that's a good lesson for the future planning for transformation as well.
And also, I'll just also add one brief thing that we're utilizing transit single priority on the 10. A and the 20. The 11. Why, and of course, that's a key component of the metro way. So this is another opportunity to kind of highlight our advanced bus technologies. And you have rail riders who say, Oh, I'm waiting for the yellow line shuttle. And you know, I might actually try the metro way. And after this is over, we may have customers who consider using bus as a part of their multimodal plan. And that's something we're proud of
Metro routes working you've already touched on Metro way. And by the way, I just want to say that I have noticed personally that in Pentagon City, there's a lot more writers Metro way from Pentagon City, I never thought that they would go you know, to use the metro Pendragon city, stop for that, but there's a lot of people using the metro way now that you know, as opposed to before, so I'm choking it to the
to this project
would also give credit to Arlington for finishing the construction of our new bus terminal there, Pentagon City, it's quite a nice experience. Coming here, I will
be sure to walk slowly when I go.
So the number one
used supplements is the 11 why we essentially doubled the frequency of service during the peak hours. The mayor of Alexandria, Texas about once a week asking if we can start earlier run later. And the answer is no, we do what we do. But we put out articulated coaches, or at least we tried to we needed to use them for the shuttle for the first few weeks. But we they're back. And the ridership 70%. In the peak hours on that route on the metro way, I think is the next highest where we've seen almost a 35% increase something on that order on the weekdays. And because we're adding we are providing more frequent service on the weekends, we're seeing a significant increase on the weekend ridership. Although that's not as high a number, believe the 10 A antennae combination we're seeing 12 to 15% increase in ridership on those services, which come out of Huntington through old town and connect up to that to the Pentagon and Pentagon City area. And networks for some people like john on occasion, when when it aligns and and then we had some midday services on the 21 at the landmark Bryn Mawr service on the eighth of Fox Chase, sort of Central Alexandria, and then the 11th. Why running from Old Town into downtown. They are moderate successes. The think I saw a report this morning that we were averaging like five or eight riders per trip. And so that adds up to maybe 5060 people a day on each of those routes that were that are able to take advantage of them. I would point out that the 21 line in general has seen an increase in ridership, because people can use that or the shuttle and depending on which works for them. So we've seen an increase their overall the rise of NH to ridership is down because it didn't have the railroad to feed off of going over to National Harbor, Rex is down the seven, the surely highway bus services are relatively neutral compared to what we would expect. And the rest of Northern Virginia is pretty much under affected by the closure. And so it's nice to be able to see that was one of the objectives with actually having the closure and just being able to run normal blue and yellow service for the rest of the network
is to isolate
the impact. And so that's working, they've been able to maintain the yellow and blue frequency, although every now and then they throw in a six car train on the yellow and I end up having to chase two cars down to catch the end of the train. But it seems to be working out pretty well.
Well, I have to look and when it's not a green number then I need I need to shift. That's a user error not necessarily a
A follow-up question, because I happen to...
I don't want to say what I've been saying. So I just want to hear you, the official answer. So if this is working so well, we are going back to the former service after the you know, improvement project is over or are we keeping the bus system enhanced?
Oh, we're going back to the pre platform improvement project services.
More or less the same situation at the shuttles? Can we keep that type of thing?
No, there's there's no allowance in the budget in the operating budget to sustain. But we take the knowledge of and the ability to do it again.
I I've been telling this person to tell them, you know, they're missing out. And I would just say, you know, I passed along feedback. But I would also like to just pass along my compliments, because it's obvious that you all are doing a great job. There are some errors, there are some issues or other errors. And I'm sorry, at the beginning and you know, I might start I've actually got a couple of questions as you might expect, hopefully, but I want to pass this along to you all. Someone reached out through a friend of mine yesterday to tell me about some issues they were having with the Pentagon shuttle, specifically. And this gets back to comments that actually a question that were asked at the April meeting, where Mr. Henry, you said that buses would be leaving on a headway operation every five minutes.
It's lovely to see you all again. I want to say first of all, I've gotten a lot of feedback from folks in Alexandria, including, for example, the partner of one of my colleagues who hates riding buses, who would never ride a bus who refuses to ride buses, but has been riding buses. And the that's a credit to
So I just want to ask about that.
Yeah, what are the headways? Like on the shuttles in the morning? Because I've been hearing from different folks. The 11 Why has had some issues with shuttles or with headways different question about questions about these trips. I was
wondering if you could
get a little into the post shut down construction work that will be going on Huntington, someone through another friend reached out to me about they work at the Pentagon. They are apparently involved in Washington support operations or whatever their division was called. And they weren't clear what was happening at Huntingtown how service and yellow line service would be affected after the shutdown. And they were wondering what the communications plan is. So
before I forget what the question was,
like two more?
Yeah, no, no, I'm okay with that. It's the Huntington Express. When we split the two routes into the South Express and the North Express, I wrote a new schedule for that to reflect the known customer demand. And so on the north side began beginning at 4:40am, we have a bus leaving every 10 minutes until 530. In which case, we have a bus leaving every five minutes until about 830 when we start phasing into our Mid Day frequency of every 10 minutes. 830 Yeah, the we literally have 30 people waiting for us when we pull up at 440 in the morning. These are enthusiastic travelers and we're happy to have them. And so we actually shifted the start time earlier by five minutes to try and split that load. And, and so we try and schedule it. So people know, because they're not getting up for fun. And they want to know exactly when to be there. And so they've got that down precisely on the south side, get about two thirds of the riders out of the north side and about a third out of the south side. So to be efficient, effective and still provide quality service, I wrote the schedule to depart 10 every 10 minutes, beginning at 440 through the balance of the rush hour. When we consolidate the two at nine o'clock in the morning, then there's buses every 10 minutes through the day. And so that's a little different than what we had representative the 5% five minutes everywhere. But that was because we were reflecting the actual ridership. And sometimes it's good to do what's actually needed rather than just theoretic.
The 11Y? As I described when we when we needed to pull Metro buses in order to support the demand on the shuttle 11Y was one of those routes where we took the buses. We were running the first few days, pretty much the usual schedule, not the augmented schedule. And we were using standard coaches instead of the Arctic's. Once we got the stabilized we put the Arctic's back, we have then on June 23rd we implemented a new operator schedule, the work schedule for all of our 2600 bus operators. And what happened was not as many operators were signing up for that work as we needed. So we were having some trips go uncovered. And we've since met with the union and encouraged the union president and encourage his operators to sign up because this is a commitment we have to the community. And we've done much better for the last three weeks or so, in being able to cover those and the other supplemented trips that we talked about.
I ran out of memory as to what the next question was
Huntington post-shutdown activities.
Oh, that's not really our gig, to talk about the construction, probably won't have all the tile down, but they'll be working on it. They're doing some foundation work for the new entrance. And I'm sure john Thomas will be happy to come talk to you at some point to tell you what that whole plan is. I think the concern
was, and I think I'm at Huntington is easier, just because it's just one line terminating there. But you know, are they going to be able to maintain, you know, rush hour headways, that rush hour, are there? Are there going to be reductions in service? Or would they turn trains earlier?
I think the expectation is they'll be able to maintain full service out of that terminal. Franconia may be slightly impacted, but we don't know what the plan is, at this point depends on how much of the tile work and which tile work gets done.
Mark, you guys, I think it's good to for all of our customers to remember that these stations won't be all finished, when they come back on September night, they're not going to be sparkling and brand new with all the new amenities. But the customer facing areas that allow them to get access to their rail should be in place by that time. So there will be ongoing work past September 9. And we don't anticipate that that will impact real surface at this time. But that as a communications team, and certainly as the best planning team, we're eagerly waiting more information like you from the contractor.
Thank you. The last
thing I'm going to ask very quickly, because I know I'm running out of time, and I like to take a lot of time chatting. Real Time shuttle information, if not for the shutdown, but for future shutdowns, one and then two. On Monday, as you all probably know, well, as you all definitely know, certainly, but as most folks probably saw on Twitter,
dashes bus depot
flooded. And I was wondering if that's impacting the blue line shuttle, what impacts there will be going forward on
on for the rest of the shut down.
And when we talked to the dash folks yesterday, they said that they're they're going to have to buy some new floor lifts to be able to live with us, but they did not feel that they would lose any ability to support the service. So right now, the answer is no impact. And what was the first questions are real time? Well, I know Michael can get into the technical details of that. Basically, it was a good effort that went awry, when we were faced with overwhelming ridership, and we abandon the schedule and just ran buses as fast as we could. We published a may data set which should have aligned perfectly and allowed for the real time, information on the metro buses and dash has have theirs functioning now. But we pretty much abandon the schedule and just ran the roots and the services. And when the R it says sees that it just gives up. And that's what you saw, we learned a lot of lessons about what our our technology is capable of and what it is not capable of. And right now with the stuff we have, I don't think we can make it work on a on a reliable basis. However, there is a procurement going through and transition to Michael to try and beef up our capability for future.
So first of all, I think you know, as discussing real time, there's kind of sometimes a misnomer as to what real time is, I think, you know, when someone sees whether it's on the real time displays in the bus shelter, or they look at an app, sometimes it's static schedule information that's being presented. And sometimes it's actual real time. Our ability to provide real time was only ever capable on the yellow line shuttle on weekends where we're running Metro buses, which have the abl product, as well as the dash blue line product. It was a very aggressive and ambitious timeline to try to enable this and and coming into this role. You know, when I came here in April, I know that we were working very hard at that. But we had to do a separate process and basically prepare a network I bus network within our system, independent of the overall by any will pick that we do. So when we did the upload in May. Any anomalies we saw were improved when we did our Sunday June 23rd. Upload. So there was an anomaly with the 10 a, for example, that was rectified. And so as we tried to move forward as quickly as possible, you know, to do this, where we saw anomalies noted, I was looking at social media to see where kind of people were having these experiences. And our office tried to speak to that, you know, we we continue to kind of evolve that process. I'll also just note separately that we were engaged with TMC such as Uber and Lyft. And even with ways carpool on sharing not only where when the feed would be made available on our bus at UTA, but provided latitudes and longitudes for each of our park and ride stations, with the notion that if you would like to have a promotion for share rides, where people can transfer to these free shuttles, that that would be a great coordination between tn seas and transit. And they were amenable to that. And so for example, if you were in the ways carpool app or in the lift app, it has things like the landmark mall or Franconia Springfield as an option as a parking lot. And so beyond that, we are continuing to work on a procurement and it's running through, you know, that process. We had hoped to have it earlier in the summer. Our hope is now that we're it seems to be you know, moving into the stage of putting it out as an RFP, he that if we are able to have those GPS devices that come with it, that we could maybe test it on our yellow line shuttle during the weekdays. If it if it doesn't make it in the summer, we run weekend shuttles, there's things we can do to test it prior to next summer. But we're certainly going to try to test those GPS devices within the software that we're procuring. And make sure when we went in if we run coach buses, in future shutdowns, that we can also use that to not only track the coaches, but the ADA buses internally for our tracking purposes, and to improve our ability to provide accurate real time information.
Less than a comment,
but I want to commend you all as three representatives of Amada for the progress website that you have. I think it is extraordinary to have some level of transparency and it is somewhat rare. And we would request that there be more of it.
Thank you, I'll pass that on to the team. We appreciate that. And that was something we really tried hard to do over safe track is making a website that was more user friendly and transparent. And they'll appreciate that feedback. Thank you.
Thank you all
for sharing the updates with us. And thanks again for your patience.
Have a packed agenda tonight.
And keep up the good work.
All right. So we've got a little under 15 minutes
to discuss any new business, I have a couple of suggested items. But I don't know if other folks had things that they wanted to make sure to cover.
Yeah, Yeah, that'd be great. That way I
know that yeah. I mean, I can sort of anticipate the content, so to speak.
Alright, so the two things that I have as quickly as possible. One is, I've been sort of coordinating with our AC counterparts just by as a means of sort of keeping each other up to date. And Phil Posner reached out to me to ask about whether the rack would be willing to echo some of their recommendations to the board, one of which is pushing for a reconfiguration of the default. escalator, a direction for the the mezzanine escalators, so that the down,
mezzanine escalator is closest to the fair gate.
That makes sense.
Yeah. Or at least as many as as practical.
I know it like
sides are reversed from each other.
They don't mirror each other.
Which I I've seen a lot of people get thrown off.
I suppose there are somewhere like,
it puts you out further down the farm and then sucks you
up? I guess. Like the escalator is closer to the fair gate.
Ballston, there are two ups and down.
And if they're
getting the signage, right to,
because I've seen a
couple of stations where the signs don't reflect what's and people start walking towards the wrong one. And, you know,
well, I typically trust that the AC is done their due diligence in terms of researching sort of policies and occurrences
and tend to be pretty reliable when it comes to raising issues. So
if folks are not opposed, that's something I would like to include in our report to the board just to sort of support.
I mean, we might as well.
Second, all in favor. Great.
The other thing that that
I wanted to mention just post last transformation project. discussion is,
I think it would,
would be useful. And Christian has suggested that we try to offer at least some high level principles
that we would like to see, you know, carry forward as part of the bus transformation
and I think that could include
best practices from other transportation systems. So I think I would venture to say that we probably already have a pretty good sense for
what those principles to me
in terms of prioritizing
real time information, things of that nature, but
what I will ask is, is it have any top of mine issues with them now, if there are things that occur to you, over the next week or so after you've had some time to digest the strategies that were discussed tonight, please send them along to will Andrew and I, so that we can make sure that they are represented?
that I was
about to say, could I could I nominate Catherine to like,
outline the section because of your work on comparative?
You know, you, you do
have a PhD in
transit engineering. So you
know a little bit about the stuff that
legibility, like making it easy to understand. Because
the thing about my boss's wife is that she hates bus maps,
she doesn't understand that.
Like, that's why she's terrified of buses.
And the metro, if you pull up the Metro bus like route maps, online, little PDF, brochures, North is never up. You can never really tell where it goes.
never mentions all the stops.
It does. And that's news to me. One does rather. But yeah. Sorry.
It offered free passes to children to write. And it was very interesting, because in this small little town, I was surprised that people said, Oh, my God, I would never let my child write us because you know, bad things happen. I'm thinking what? So if we really do want to have a future where buses serve people, one way to do that is to get young people that can be influenced, say, Hey, I could get around on the bus. So I know there are bus cards for kids in school. But in the summer, is this a, you know, 20 that we might want to build some new ridership
starting with the 12 year olds.
So I mentioned, you know, talk about a low income option. But if we really want to make classes, class, neutral, and all that other kind of stuff. We also need to make it available so people test it. That's one way.
Maybe it's worth exploring.
Thank you, family friendly policies?
Well, I will say my
my number one priority is making sure that they consider the implementation of flying buses.
Katherine, your latest research is on that topic, correct?
you're working on the propulsion part right.
arranged you have a bus transformation project related item.
Well, more Listen, we already discussed that the GPS, whole thing, that we should have a uniform, right? Because that will take away. I've You don't know how many complaints I hear about the, what they call the ghost buses, that you have the app saying, oh, the bus is coming? One minute, one minute, and then nobody ever shows up. And then it'll since it is coming in 12 minutes? What happened to that bus? You know, so. Uh huh. So that's what they call the Ghostbusters. And if we go through a uniform kind of system that would take care of that, that as far as the bunching, what I have discovered in Arlington County, is that in Columbia Pike, we have four routes that win regular routes that would Pentagon into the Pentagon City. So what they did was that they did the Pentagon line, you can turn that into a limited stock lines. And then the Pentagon City, one is the local. And that has eliminated it still happens. But it's doesn't happen as much as it used to, which was, you know, very frequently. So I don't know if this is, you know, something that maybe other jurisdictions should, you know, take into consideration.
was transformation principles would be
priority for buses, frequency of buses, and kind of it's a subset of buses, right sizing, which we all know really means minimizing the number of bus stops that exists in this region.
Yeah, just said, just briefly put it on a
plug for affordable as well.
I think it was reading
relative to other metro areas, to dollars a ride, at least in the district is someone on the high side. So be interested to see how they're benchmarking, you know, their potential target fares. Anything else
on that front?
Like I said, as other things?
I'm sorry, did you get
collaboration or like inter jurisdictional collaboration? Is that does that need to be stated? Because that's the whole point. I I
would, I would say that that that
almost goes without saying, because that reminds me reminded me of a client Lorraine, about how the displays on the Columbia Pike buses only show that will not have buses, they don't show art, which makes them worthless for some people who need the 41 or the you know, whatever. So cuz the one on George Mason pipe. So okay. Sorry. Okay,
so moving on, Valerie and Clarence,
seem to have some new business and
just a couple of minutes. So I'm just real quickly, um, if we're looking for other folks to invite and explore. I had a writer contact me today who was talking about the quality of the experience on it sounded like probably the number two or number three rail car, she said, Oh, it was mole, the, the carpet was bad. I know that we've gotten some new cars, and there was a desire to get get some special dispensation to get rid of old cars, I just would hope we could get an update. How are we doing to do we think, you know, we're going to get new cars to get rid of the cars that are high maintenance, that kind of stuff. So capital replacement maintenance, like I think they
they will be they're taking
our acquisition process.
But it sounds like
your question also extends to
current fleet in retrofitting apartments.
And probably better, we can get a more fulsome update. And in fact, I think it might have been today that we shipped off the last of another one of our old fleets to the scrapper.
there, were moving them out.
But I but I think you guys probably deserve a more comprehensive update on what's going on.
Going to be having to resign, stepping down from the rack,
just because I'll be taking up
more responsibilities with
capital pride. And so just wanting to making sure that I'm being able to give me attention to everybody, I don't want to sit on a seat. For some especially,
I'm being where's the mic? I also i bike a lot,
a lot of places that when I joined the rack, I took the metro and the bus like every single day. And so as that sort of just like shifted around, I think it's
really important if you have a seat that's available to have somebody
fully dedicated into it.
So plan on stopping in a meeting,
you know, when's a good time. But I also just wanted to make sure that I wasn't stretching myself
too thin and not being able to do everybody.
There's no meeting in August,
You will be missed. Thank you for your service.
Keep in touch. Yeah.
Can you just drop me a quick email, just so I have something in writing? I just don't
know. But no, I just I just something in writing to make it all legit would be much appreciated.
A good point, because I see more and more people using the those rent bikes and guys want suits on scooters and everything like that. And these are ways people connect and use transportation.
I know if I understood correctly, the
kind of opened up the whole bike
scooter thing to lots of different folks, and then they're going to develop some rules and regulations. It might be nice to have some better understanding of that of those rules. If there's anything we can do to influence them. Or, you know, is one mana, you know, making places on the side of the stations available for bikes, that kind of stuff?
Well, we are out of time, I will hang around for a minute for any straggler items that you want to
try to get into future meetings. Have a