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#WMATA Board meeting day: Changes to Metro hours & an update to bus overhaul plans among items on agenda………
Safety tip of the day: avoid winter slip, trips and falls
And "imagine you're a penguin"
#WMATA Exec Cmte in and out on IG reports, now on to operations
Now up is bus transformation project update -- planned overhaul of region's system is expected to move forward with next steps later this year……
Wiedefeld: #WMATA facing changing marketplace on bus, drop of ridership has cost implications across country; want to take larger perspective on "how bus fits into the new mobility paradigm" and Metrobus role in that…
Wiedefeld: Bus will be addressed in next budget (the one that starts July 1, 2020 and will be proposed this fall) not current budget to be approved in March
My bus this morning was pretty full (not quite as packed as usual with shutdown though)
Presentation running through summaries of bus ridership surveys/Metro stats, Metrobus routes, other local bus routes, ridership/route numbers
#WMATA consultant points out bus speeds declining with traffic, ridership decreasing right now -- blame for slower speeds on increased traffic, on-street parking issues, double parking/lack of enforcement for deliveries, Uber/Lyft, and complete lack of bus lanes in region
Two major factors driving Metrobus cost growth: High percentage of time/miles running buses out of service "deadhead" to/from start or end of route and slower speeds which drive costs up 4%
#WMATA consultant: Riders want more & better bus service
Va's Paul Smedberg asks about impact of track work on bus ridership
Davey: Yes, there is a reduction on some routes, but there are other things hitting bus ridership too
Md's Goldman wants more info on low income ridership - breakdown of income levels
Presentation now running through changes in other cities recently - emphasis on bus lanes, total redesign of bus network, etc
Other bus overhauls (i.e. Baltimore) were simpler to do since there's a single main bus operator, unlike Metro service area
Puentes running through Bus Transformation Project structure with committees etc
Draft strategy due by spring, with details by fall
Puentes says this isn't something just being cooked up in a conference room -- cites 5,679 online survey responses
Survey: people want more efficient more frequent, reliable service
Why ride bus? best option, closest, affordable, easy.
Why don't ride? too infrequent, slow, doesn't go where need
Survey wants to look at how to cut buses from buses to Uber/Lyft, what bus services Metrobus should operate, whether region will actually put bus lanes on the road, what regional services (like current fare payment) Metro should provide, what regional coordination needed
Draft bus overhaul strategy is expected by April
Fed's David Horner asks whether flying cars are factored into this bus overhaul.
Answer: No, but we are thinking somewhat about autonomous vehicle impacts #WMATA
Horner asked if Metro today has legal authority to provide "municipal air service" #WMATA
Puentes: On Executive Steering Committee, goal is more bus not less. Bus isn't going away
Puentes: Doesn't appear to be a push for a new bus regional governance board
Puentes: This process must "do no harm" to people who most depend on bus
Arl's Dorsey asks if goal is to make bus mode of choice only at rush hour on roads
Answer: Not really thought about it - but hope would be to make it throughout the day
Dorsey: That's a vision well beyond our reach if we want to be realistic
Puentes: Trying to look around corner at things like autonomous vehicles, with the changes trying to figure out role of bus
Dorsey wants to be sure plan includes curbside management , bus lanes, transit signal priority
Md's Goldman asks about running smaller buses more frequently (significant cost is labor though), asks about electric buses, and about Uber/Lyft connections for people to reach bus stops
Goldman also asks about whether region could subsidize low income riders
Davey: Will look at that since has helped ridership elsewhere, but needs to be realistic with cost concerns
Next up: #WMATA Hours talk.
The Federal Transit Administration just sent Metro a letter warning against cuts to track work time
FTA letter to #WMATA dated Jan. 18 warned some corrective action plan approvals (at least 10) could be delayed or cancelled if Metro cuts track work time; Also could delay fed funding approvals; And FTA threatens that Metro Safety Commission approval could be delayed
#WMATA GM Wiedefeld seems open to the slight changes to add one hour of service back Fri/Sat/Sun…
Laura Mason now running through some of hte maintenance programs Metro does…
Mason reminds that actual work doesn't begin for about 2 hours after #WMATA system closes, then workers must start to clear about an hour before service starts…
Mason hopes eventually to be able to speed up track access, but would take time and new technology, she says…
Now into #WMATA service alternatives proposed - back to old hours (return 8 hours to service), major shift, slight addition in weekend service, or keep current…
#WMATA staff estimate major costs to going back to old service hours compared to current; smaller costs for shifting or extending hours
GM Wiedefeld says any cost would be beyond the 3% cap
Va's Smedberg: Focus on safety, getting #WMATA to better repair, Safety Commission issues, financial considerations - Va local govs don't have more money to put in; repair is paramount, extending hours at this point could harm that. Can consider in 2 years
Fed's McMillin wants a resolution that would keep current #WMATA hours in place. Says idea of return to previous hours puts system at risk. "Irresponsible" that on a path where no action scenario is "nightmare of going back to the bad old days"…
McMillin: Dentist says don't have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep. We have not been flossing this system for years
Evans: #WMATA GM Wiedefeld to make this presentation to DC Mayor/Council breakfast and then Evans and Corbett Price will determine which hours alternative DC will support. Evans says he can argue both keeping current hours or returning to old ones…
Evans: Patience has run out. But after the 29th, DC will have better idea of where we stand
"I understand the arguments on all sides"
"And the money's a big issue given the federal shutdown" - DC losing tens of millions
(shutdown may give DC cover to backtrack here)
But Evans also says shutdown has cut revenue for businesses who need the late night service - so it also argues for extending hours
Arl's Dorsey asks about Uber/Lyft negotiations with late-night hours…
#WMATA GM Wiedefeld: Looking at something like guaranteed ride home with guaranteed price for cab/Uber/Lyft for registered restaurant/late night workers. Says would propose once DC settles on hours…
Arl's Dorsey: With #WMATA estimate of $10/additional trip by extending hours, could do that cheaper. Virginia and feds coming down against any extension of hours it seems; Md. Goldman agrees…
Now Md's Goldman also wants to cut the limited late night bus service added after #WMATA cut hours and put money from that toward Uber/Lyft rides for people
Md's Crawford says goal should be safe, reliable, affordable system, and easy solutions have already been done. Need to make sure solutions aren't worse than problem addressing. Expresses support for "guaranteed ride home" type system
Crawford: Confident will come to good solution. Next month, #WMATA Board plans to take up a vote on hours…
Moving on now to full #WMATA board meeting - among items: Loudoun County Supervisors getting first ever represenation as Metro Board alternate in Matt Letourneau…
Full meeting underway
Begin with public comment - man says in October he was not given sign language interpreter when stopped by Metro Transit Police, says he asked for video interpreting and was laughed at by officers. Wants to offer more training on deaf sensitivity for officers
Accessibility Advisory Committee report acknowledges that federal shutdown cost could impact what #WMATA can do in budget; Happy with ongoing work on MetroAccess vehicles, hope that with platform shutdown this summer there are safety upgrades too
AAC somewhat concerned about MetroAccess fare changes on weekends if #WMATA adopts $2 weekend flat rail fare; hopes for flat $4 weekend MetroAccess fare if that happens so less complication with cost of bus transfers
Similarly, AAC also concerned about cost increases for MetroAccess riders who pay twice the regular fare if Metro extends peak fare hours this summer
AAC also unhappy bikes were allowed on trains without consultation with people in wheelchairs. They're not opposed, but wanted to be consulted; also want additional focus to be sure all bikes go down elevators not escalators
Arl's Dorsey reports for the Riders Advisory Council:
Want to make sure any bus shuttles accessible for those with disabilities
Want to also improve signs compared to past shutdowns
RAC also wants input on customer service/responsiveness to riders, fare policies, budget, bus
Next up: Swearing-in of Board Members Matthew Letourneau (Loudoun Supervisor new Virginia #WMATA alternate) and Devin Rouse (new federal alternate)
Letourneau sworn in as first #WMATA Board alternate representing #Loudoun County
Rouse, a Federal Railroad Administration expert including in safety, now sworn in to replace Bob Lauby as a Federal #Wmata Board alternate
Evans reminds there are three budget public hearings next week, starting Tues at Metro HQ then one in Md and one in Va
GM Wiedefeld highlights Metro and employee's fill-a-bus food donation to Capital Area Food Bank Monday as today's employee spotlight
Wiedefeld says #WMATA measured rider on time performance in 2018 was best in 7 years
Wiedefeld says there have been about 18,000 rush hour promise credits this month, less than half of one percent of all trips
Wiedefeld says he is concerned about DC fare evasion decriminalization, thanks Evans and ATU 689 for support. Says Metro Transit Police will continue to take on fare evasion; Wiedefeld promises a more thorough fare evasion report in future
Now up: #WMATA Board approves development solicitation for West Falls Church Metro to match City of Falls Church/Va Tech plans at the station; and approves do-over of joint development solicitation for Capitol Heights Metro
#WMATA Board also approves temporary bus loop property at Huntington during this summer's shutdown, and a $2M sale of land at Anacostia Metro
#WMATA Board now going back into closed session
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