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Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

DataLensDC was started in the summer of 2015 by Kate Rabinowitz, lover of all things data and District. She lives in a cozy Capitol Hill carriage house where she enjoys data mining, board games and wandering the city. Kate created to DataLensDC to present data-driven views of the character, trends and hacks of the ever-changing District.

The Pain is Real: Your Metro Commute is Getting Worse

Last Thursday Metro sent a subtle signal that maybe I should take a day off. Unfortunately my boss felt otherwise. What started as a ‘minor’ derailment became two days of Metro competing with walking for the slowest way to get anywhere. It was bad and feels like part of a larger decline in Metro service. I was curious if that actually bore out in the data. Not only did it, but the decline is even more dramatic than I would’ve guessed.

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The first half of 2015 had nearly twice as many delays compared to the same period in the past two years. Year to date Metro delays total over eighteen days. This is two and a half weeks. You could spend all your vacation days waiting for the Metro and still be waiting. This increase is partly due to a spike in delays this winter, but the spring and summer saw worse service as well.

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It’d be nice if all these delays happened in the early hours of Sunday morning, since so many have long given up on taking the Metro anywhere on weekends. But the Metro is most likely to be delayed when you need it most. The heatmap below shows that delays are heavily concentrated just before and during commuting hours. Of course WMATA *tries* to run twice as many trains during rush hour. But there are more delays per train during that hour as well. Afterall, the benefit of more trains is debatable when you wait ten minutes for three trains to arrive at once.

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I’m not sure how Metro will improve with all the money it doesn’t have, but on the upside there are only more delays, not longer delays. And on an (un)related note DC keeps expanding bike lanes…


Technical notes: Graphics are based on WMATA Disruption reports. Code for DC has wonderfully scraped these reports in easy-to-analyze CSV files at opendatadc.org. You can find complete code for this post on my github page.

*Data for July 2015 only goes to July 24th. So the numbers are likely even worse!

 

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From the mayor’s office:

“Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser reopened O Street Northwest between 1st and 3rd Streets as a “Green Street.” This newly opened roadway will support the Mayor’s commitment to sustainability and clean energy by capturing thousands of gallons of untreated stormwater, which protects local waterways. The green street is adjacent to the newly modernized Dunbar Senior High School, which also has several energy and sustainability features.

Originally closed in 1977, this part of O Street now has 5,732 square-feet of bioretention area installed in the form of 33 individual cells, or “rain gardens.” The District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) estimates that the volume of water equivalent to a 1.28-inch storm of runoff from a 1.6-acre drainage area will be retained through this project. The stormwater technology will prohibit significant amounts of stormwater runoff from reaching the District’s combined sewer system, and ultimately, the Anacostia River. All bioretention areas are landscaped with plants native to the District.

The Green Street project includes newly planted street trees in large tree boxes along O Street, where the stormwater will be collected to avoid sewer backups. Native plants that are a part of the O Street landscaping include: purple coneflower, switchgrass, inkberry and river birch. In addition to enhancing the ability of the bioretention cells to absorb stormwater runoff, these plants provide important habitat for District wildlife.”

@MayorBowser tweets:

“After nearly 38 yrs, #DCProud to reopen O St NW btwn 1st & 3rd as a #DCGreenStreet.”

CMYJEFOWIAAgH_T

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Photo by PoPville flickr user John Sonderman

From WMATA: “The following statement was issued today by Metro’s Board of Directors:

“The Board is outraged and dismayed that anyone working at Metro would have critical safety information and not act on it immediately. It is totally unacceptable that the wide gauge track problem reported yesterday by the General Manager could go unaddressed and unrepaired for four weeks. This is a breakdown of the organization’s chain of command and our safety culture. We obviously have much work ahead of us to improve the organization’s safety culture, and we will do so,” said Metro Safety Committee Chair Michael Goldman, speaking on behalf of the Board. “However, Jack Requa’s transparent release of information, as well as his actions to order immediate track inspections and gather information to hold people accountable at every level, is what the Board expects and what the circumstances demand.

“The Board has directed the General Manager to complete his operational investigation within 10 days that will explain to the Board and our riders how this track deficiency went unrepaired for so long. The Board looks forward to learning how the chain of command broke down and where the responsibility lies. This is an unforgivable breach of safety that needs to be dealt with firmly and swiftly.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Beau Finley

From Fox 5:

“The derailment of a non-passenger train outside the Smithsonian Metro station last Thursday was caused by a track defect that was discovered on July 9 but not fixed, Metro said.

Following the derailment, Requa ordered a system-wide inspection of every mile of track, which could take up to a month to complete. He said customers can expect delays in the coming days as possible additional track repairs are made.”

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From WMATA:

“As part of its ongoing effort to enhance the safety and security of bus operators and passengers, Metro plans to test the use of video monitors on board buses as a deterrent to prevent fare evasion and bus operator assaults. The move is part of a multi-layered response that also includes enhanced fare enforcement by plain clothes and uniformed Transit Police officers, outreach campaigns — including targeted outreach in public schools, the installation of plexiglass dividers to protect bus operators, and enhanced penalties for those found guilty of assault.

Video monitors will be installed on 22 articulated (60-foot) Metrobuses as part of the pilot program. The monitors will allow passengers to see exactly what the security cameras are recording in real time. One 8.4-inch screen will be installed above the bus operator so that riders can see themselves as they board, and one 19-inch screen will be mounted behind the driver facing the passenger cabin with a four-camera display of the bus interior.

“Metrobus operator assaults not only put our employees at risk, but also impact the safety of everyone else onboard the bus,” said Metro Interim General Manager and CEO Jack Requa. “Through this effort, we want to remind riders that all activity aboard our buses is captured by the cameras and see whether the presence of the new video monitors has an additional deterrent effect.”

The 22 selected buses are all assigned to the X2 route, which runs along H Street from Benning Road to Gallery Place and Lafayette Square. The route is among the system’s busiest with an average weekday ridership of 12,180 trips.

Four X2 bus operators have been assaulted in 2015, which is more incidents than any other route. (more…)

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Beau Finley

From WMATA:

“Reconstruction of the Metrorail system will continue over the weekend of August 7-9 with service adjustments on five rail lines beginning at 10 p.m. Friday and continuing through system closing on Sunday.

This weekend, Green Line trains will operate at regular weekend intervals. Yellow and Blue Line trains will operate every 20 minutes. Red Line trains will operate every 8-16 minutes with additional trains between Silver Spring and Friendship Heights between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday through closing Sunday, buses will replace Orange and Silver Line trains between Ballston, West Falls Church and McLean stations. East Falls Church station is closed. Orange and Silver Line trains will operate every 12-20 minutes outside the work zone.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Beau Finley

Wow, can’t say I remember this happening! From WMATA:

“Metro Interim General Manager/CEO Jack Requa today announced the issuance of a SmarTrip credit to all riders using Smartrip cards who traveled on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines today.

Each rider who used a SmarTrip card to enter and exit the system and traveled on the Blue, Orange or Silver lines between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. today will automatically receive a credit on their card for the fare they were charged at the gates. Qualifying riders will receive the credit on their SmarTrip card early next week when they tap their card at a Metro faregate or fare machine.

The credits will be processed automatically to SmarTrip cards, no action is required by customers to receive the credit.

“We absolutely understand the frustration among our Blue, Orange and Silver line customers,” said Metro Interim General Manager/CEO Jack Requa, who regularly commutes on the Orange line. “Given the significant service disruptions that inconvenienced riders over multiple commutes this week, we are taking this step to thank everyone for bearing with us. I also offer a sincere apology to everyone who was inconvenienced.”

The Blue, Orange and Silver lines were disrupted yesterday due to a derailment of a non-passenger train outside Smithsonian Station. During the morning, buses replaced trains between McPherson Square and Federal Center SW stations. That was followed by single tracking through the afternoon and evening that resulted in lengthy delays for many riders.

This morning, Orange and Silver line service was disrupted due to a loss of third-rail power on the inbound track outside East Falls Church Station. The passengers aboard a Silver Line train in the area without power had to be assisted by emergency responders to East Falls Church Station. Rail service was suspended for approximately 30 minutes and then followed by single tracking until just before noon.

Paper farecards, used by less than 10 percent of all riders, do not qualify for the travel credit.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Ryan Bowley

@MetroTransitPD tweeted:

“7:00 – All pax are safely off disabled train (no power) & now at E Falls Ch sta. Process of restoring power to other track shortly. #wmata”

“6:54 a.m. – In process of assisting pax walk from train w/o power ~500 ft to East Falls Church Station. No reports of any issues. #wmata”

“MTPD & FD o/s at East Falls Church w/train outside station with no power. Planning to walk passengers off train to station. 6:25am”

In happier Orange line news “Two-track service has been restored btwn McPherson Sq & Federal Center SW