Thursday, April 21, 2011

Testimony - FY12 Budget WMATA


RE: Public Testimony for Fiscal Year 2012 Budget for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Monday April 18, 2011

We would like to thank Councilmember Wells and the honorable members of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation for the opportunity to submit testimony on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The Hillcrest community is comprised of single-family homes, and two large medium-density communities (Fairfax Village and Naylor Gardens). The closest Metro station to our community is Naylor Road in Maryland, which is as far as 1.5-miles for some of our residents. This makes us a bus-dependent community.

At the Ward 7 Transportation Summit and Listening Tour Jim Hamre, Director of Bus Planning, presented a list of bus enhancement recommendations to improve bus service in Ward 7. The Street, Traffic, and Transportation Committee went through those recommendations to identify the lines that serve the Hillcrest Community. We attempted to rank the recommendations in order of priority to the community should the funding become available.

  • 35: New limited stop route between Southern Ave Metro Station and Archives via Naylor Road and Penn Ave SE. 20-min frequency during AM and PM peak WMATA estimates this improvement costs $800K. This would provide our community with an express bus to Capitol Hill and Penn Quarter.
  • 36: Increasing the evening frequency to every 30 minutes for weekdays and weekends. Currently the headways are every 60 minutes. WMATA estimates $700K for the subsidy, but that number also includes improvements to the 32 line.
  • W4: Increase weekday midday frequency to every 22 minutes and increase Saturday frequency to every 25 minutes. This is the only North-South route that connects Wards 7 and 8 on the eastern side. WMATA estimates $500k for this subsidy
  • 39: Limited stop one-way rush hour bus. WMATA recommends increasing rush hour span from two the three hours and improving frequency from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. WMATA estimates $300K span, $500K frequency.
  • V5: Limited stop one-way rush hour bus. Extend route to Metro Center. WMATA estimates $300K for this subsidy.

Even during tight budget times, we believe there are some actions WMATA can implement to improve reliability and safety of the existing systems. For example:

  • Alternative SmartTrip Locations: Many times buses are delayed because people load their SmartTrip cards on the bus. We recommend WMATA consider SmartTrip kiosks in prominent locations in Ward 7, such as grocery stores, CVS, and high transfer bus stops such as L’enfant Square (Minnesota-Benning). This action needs to be coupled with informing people of these locations.
  • Transit Police presence on Bus Lines: Some residents do not feel comfortable riding in the late evening and the hours when school lets out. We recommend for certain lines, such as the W4 to have transit police ride on the buses in the evening. Another option would be partnering with non-profit or community organization that has volunteers willing to ride the buses to improve safety.
  • Communication Strategy (Incident Management): During predictable incidents such as snowstorms and unpredictable one such as accidents, WMATA buses are detoured with little to no communication to residents. As a phased approach, WMATA can start with developing a communication strategy for predictable incidents. During snowstorms, our community members should not be standing at a bus stop waiting for a bus that isn’t coming.
While the City and WMATA face a budget crisis, let’s not forget that many families in Ward 7 are facing that same crisis. As gas prices continue to rise, more people are opting to use public transportation.

Submitted by
Veronica O. Davis
Street, Traffic and Transportation Committee Chair

Monday, April 18, 2011

Far Southeast Livability Study Meeting #3

Testimony - FY12 Budget DDOT

RE: Public Testimony for Fiscal Year 2012 Budget for the District Department of Transportation
Wednesday April 13, 2011

We would like to thank Councilmember Wells and the honorable members of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation for the opportunity to submit testimony on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget for the District Department of Transportation. We are submitting specific recommendations on general infrastructure improvements, Circulator, and the BikeShare Program.

Infrastructure Improvements
There are several streets in Hillcrest that have incomplete sidewalks or no sidewalk at all. For example Camden Street, Fort Baker Drive and Hillcrest Drive do not have sidewalks, so pedestrians walk in the street. The presence of a complete sidewalk network is important to improving safety, and encouraging walking. We understand that resources are limited. We request that DDOT prioritize installation of complete sidewalks on streets sides of the street that have a bus stop and streets that do not have a sidewalk on either side of the street.

As gas prices climb, residents are choosing alternative modes of transportation such as walking and biking. A vital link from our community to Capitol Hill is the Sousa Bridge (Pennsylvania Ave SE). The street geometry makes it difficult for motorists to see pedestrians and bicyclists. Couple this with motorists who disobey the law by turning right on red from the off-ramp of Southeast/Southwest Freeway creates unsafe conditions. The Hillcrest community would like to see DDOT implement safety solutions in the areas where motor vehicles conflict with pedestrians and bicyclists.

The Hillcrest community has been very vocal in our desire to have a Circulator that serves our community. Two of the proposed Circulator routes would connect Wards 7 and 8 with Barracks Row/Eastern Market. DDOT has selected the Eastern Market – Giant Shopping Center Route as the first route East of the River. This route does not serve Ward 7 or our community. The proposed Eastern Market-Minnesota Avenue line would connect some of the commercial areas in Ward 7 to each other, Historic Anacostia in Ward 8, and destinations in West of the River.

DDOT proposes the Eastern Market-Minnesota Ave line would start at the Minnesota Avenue Metro station, and run south down Minnesota Ave to Naylor Road, where it would turn east. After a major stop at the soon-to-come Skyland project, the route turns west onto Good Hope Road to Historic Anacostia. The route would cross the 11th Street Bridge to connect through Barracks Row.

The Ad-Hoc Ward 7 Circulator Group, which was formed in January 2010, proposed a similar route with one major difference: Instead of connecting Minnesota Ave to Skyland via Naylor Road SE, the group proposed using Branch Ave SE and Alabama Ave SE to make that connection.

DDOT's justification for using Naylor Road is to build ridership for the proposed streetcar that will run almost the entire length of Minnesota Ave. However, the residents think the Branch Ave and Alabama Ave connection is extremely important. For one, it would bring Penn-Branch Shopping Center into the fold, which houses the only Department of Motor Vehicles East of the River.

Second, there are no bus lines that currently service the 0.7-mile stretch of Branch Ave between Pennsylvania and Minnesota Ave. On the other hand, there are currently three WMATA bus routes that service Minnesota Ave SE between Good Hope Road and the Minnesota Ave Metro Station. Third, the section of Naylor Road between Good Hope and Minnesota Ave is narrow.

The Hillcrest community is excited about the possibility of a connection to Barrack’s Row, Historic Anacostia and East River to eat at Ray’s the Steaks in a one-seat ride.

Bikeshare usage is low in Ward 7. In the low-income areas the annual membership is a barrier. However in middle-income areas such as Hillcrest usage is also low. One reason usage is low is location of bikestations. For example:

  • Pennsylvania-Minnesota Ave SE: the bikestation located at Pennsylvania and Minnesota is located in front of a carry-out that usually has people loitering outside. Some residents do not feel comfortable wading through people in order to access a bike. DDOT should consider relocating this station across Minnesota Ave SE in the pocket park or across Pennsylvania Ave SE in Twining Park.
  • Benning Library: The bikestation at the library is located in the rear tucked in the corner. DDOT should consider either relocate the station to the front of the library or provide wayfinding signs to the rear of the library.
  • Fairfax Village/Ft Davis Shopping Centers: A missed opportunity for a station is either the Fort Davis or Fairfax Village shopping center located at the intersection of Alabama and Pennsylvania Ave SE. A station here would connect these shopping centers to Good Hope Shopping Center, Penn-Branch when reinstalled, East River (Benning-Minnesota Ave) and Historic Anacostia in Ward 8.
  • Benning Metro Station: The Benning Metro Station is a missed opportunity to create a link between the Blue line (Benning) and Orange line (Minnesota).

Submitted by
Veronica O. Davis
Street, Traffic and Transportation Committee Chair

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Transportation Budget Hearings

The Mayor's proposed FY 2012 budget is currently online. Budget hearings have already started. As of April 6, 2011 here is the information on the transportation related budget hearings.

April 18, 2011
Department of Motor Vehicles: 10am-2pm Room 500
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority: 2pm-end, Room 500

April 21, 2011
District Department of Transportation: 10am-end, Room 123

Persons wishing to testify about the performance of any of the foregoing agencies may contact Tawanna Shuford, Committee on Public Works and Transportation, at 724-8195 or e-mail Written testimony needs to be submitted 2 business days after hearing.