The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.

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Worldwide links: London's less stinky

The engineer behind one of London's greatest architectural achievements deserves serious props, Beijing's residents aren't into the idea of driving down congestion through charging people to drive into the city, and in Italy, a work of art suggests a way to deal with rising sea levels. Check out what's happening around the world in transportation, land use, and other related areas!


Photo by Adrian Snood on Flickr.

An engineering hero:London's Thames Embankment changed the city forever by creating a sewer system to wisk away waste after the 1858's "Great Stink." The engineer responsible, Joseph Bazelgette, should be revered for this—and our noses and health should thank him. (London Lens)

Beijing blowback:Beijing has some of the worst traffic and air quality in the world. Some have proposed congestion pricing—charging people to drive when the most people are on the road—but many drivers have pushed back hard because they see mobility-by-car as a right. (The Economist)

Lake Floating: Christo's Floating Piers installation on Lake Iseo in Italy connects small islands to the mainland. It is a beautiful piece of art, but also an opportunity to test pedestrian infrastructure in a world faced with climate change and sea level rise. (Gizmodo)

Portland streetcar expansion: Portland has completed the Tilikum Crossing, a bridge for bikes and walking but not cars, and it recently finished its streetcar loop. If the streetcar is going to grow, expansion will now need to go outwards along major commercial corridors. (Portland Oregonian)

Unconventional Blockage: Barricades are made from all types of materials. Traffic cones and caution tape can create informal, protective architecture, but they can become a form of art. While we typically see these barriers as symbols of authority, we might think of them differently if we saw them in a gallery. (Places Journal)

Quote of the Day

"Columbus' win allows a city in the Midwest—which is much more car-dependent in general than the coasts—to illustrate how auto-oriented places can develop a new blueprint for moving around a city." Mobility Lab's Paul Mackie on Columbus winning the Smart Cities Challenge, a planning contest whose first place award is $50 million. (Mobility Lab)

History


A streetcar used to run from H Street to Berwyn Heights, near College Park

Like those in a lot of other US cities, DC and surrounding areas' best-known streetcar lines tend to be ones where service survived into the 1950's and 1960's. However, routes like the Washington, Gretta, & Spa Spring, which perished during the 1920's heyday of streetcar service, often had a lasting effect on the urban landscape.


A map of the WSS&G streetcar line. Click for a larger version. Map by the author using OpenStreetMap.

Land speculation helped birth the streetcar

The town of Berwyn Heights, Maryland began in the 1890's as a subdivision on the east side of the B&O Railroad tracks (now the MARC Camden Line) just south of Branchville Road (now Greenbelt Road). However, development was slowed by competition from subdivisions on the west side of the B&O tracks, which were served by the Washington, Berwyn, & Laurel Streetcar starting in 1900.

In 1905 a group of land speculators, including Ohio Congressman Samuel Yoder and Benjamin Stephen, the owner of Gretta, the estate that would later become Riverdale Heights, bought up most of the available land in Berwyn Heights. They then obtained a charter for a streetcar line to be called the Washington, Spa Spring & Gretta, which would serve Bladensburg (then home to a well known spring with supposedly curative waters), the Gretta estate, and Berwyn Heights.

Construction on the WSS&G progressed slowly, in part due to funding difficulties: Congressman Yoder funded nearly the entire project with his personal assets. In August 1910, a single-tracked line along Bladensburg Road from 15th and H Streets NE to the Bladensburg School (now the Prince George's County library system's Bladensburg Branch) finally opened.

An extension to Berwyn Heights

After the opening of the line to Bladensburg, work began to construct an extension along Edmonston Road. To save money, this portion of the line wasn't electrified, and passengers were instead required to transfer to "Edison-Beach" battery-powered cars.

The Berwyn Heights extension was opened in 1912, but the Edison-Beach cars had difficulty climbing the final hill from Good Luck Road into Berwyn Heights—some passengers reported being asked to get out and push—and service was soon truncated to Brownings Road in Riverdale.


58th and Berwyn, the northern terminus of the streetcar in Berwyn Heights. It's now a quite suburban intersection. Photo by the author.

In October 1913, the Washington Railway & Electric Company (then one of Washington's two main streetcar systems, and the operator of the competing Washington, Berwyn, and Laurel line) agreed to operate the line as an extension of its H Street Line. Although the new operators electrified the entire line to Berwyn Heights, they decided that patronage was insufficient to justify through service, and the practice of requiring a transfer at Bladensburg School continued.

The Washington, Gretta, & Spa Spring Streetcar stops running

In 1916, the WSS&G corporation went bankrupt and the line was sold to the Washington Railway. The line continued to be unprofitable, and in 1921, Washington Railway terminated service north of Riverdale Heights.

Two years later, the District of Columbia decided to pave Bladensburg Road and required a payment of $150,000 to maintain the streetcar tracks. Given the unprofitability of the line, the company instead replaced streetcars with buses on the Bladensburg Road section of the line in April 1923. However, the Public Service Commission did not immediately allow buses on the Bladensburg School-East Riverdale section of the line, and it remained in operation as a streetcar shuttle until April 1925.

Finally, in 1949, Capital Transit—by then the operator of DC's unified streetcar network—replaced the 10/12 H Street-Benning Road line, which the WSS&G had served as a branch of, with the X2 bus. The H Street-Benning Road line had been one of the first streetcar lines in the city, and was the first of the city's major trunk lines to be completely replaced by buses.

Transit


Ask GGWash: Why did the Cleveland Park Metro station flood?

During Tuesday's huge thunderstorm, the Cleveland Park Metro station flooded so badly that Metro ended up closing it for nearly two hours. Why was the flooding so severe?

The storm that swept across the region yesterday afternoon brought over an inch of rain to many areas in a very short amount of time. Here's how crazy things got at Cleveland Park:

Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly told the Washington Post that the reason the Cleveland Park station got hit so bad is that it "...is prone to flooding because it is at the bottom of a hill."

But that's not quite true: many areas east of the Metro station are farther downhill.

Greater Greater Washington contributor Matt Johnson says it's less about the topography of the area than it is about the amount of impervious surface (like roads, sidewalks, and parking lots).

Next to the Cleveland Park Metro, there's a parking lot to the east and buildings to the west. All of the water that falls flows into Connecticut Avenue (from downspouts from the buildings, and down the driveway aprons from the parking lot)—it has to go somewhere.

Near the intersections, some of that water may flow down toward Rock Creek, but there's a fixed amount of drainage volume that can be accommodated that way. The rest of the water gets collected by catch basins along the curb of Connecticut Avenue. Those also have a fixed capacity. Once the rainfall exceeds the ability of the street to drain itself downhill and into the catch basins, the water level will start to rise.

Once the water level rises above the level of the curb (between 4 & 6" above the pavement surface), it starts to spread onto the sidewalk, and will flow downhill, including into anything at a lower elevation than the sidewalk (like a subway station).

Then the water will begin to flow into the grates in the sidewalk that lead to underground vaults that hold things like transformers and Metro vent shafts. Additionally, water will trickle down the escalator and stairway into the station.

Metro has placed sandbags around the grates in the sidewalk near the Cleveland Park station to help keep water out. That works often enough, but not during Tuesday's storm.

"The level of water on the sidewalk had probably reached several inches high during the peak of the rain event, demonstrating how overwhelmed the catch basins were," says Matt.

"In other words, the water volume exceeded DDOT's ability to handle the runoff, so it began to flow into the Metro."

So is there any solution to keeping this from happening again? The sandbags help some, but there are some other options. In New York, MTA has raised the level of some street grates. And at the South Ferry subway station, which is in danger of tidal flooding during storms, MTA has added a few stairs that go up, before going down, at the entrance to the station.


NYC's South Ferry subway stop. Image from Wikipedia.

Transit


At this park & ride, buses and bikes get the spotlight

Renovations to Fairfax's Stringfellow Road Park and Ride just finished up, and they're largely focused on buses and bicycles. This means the park and ride will function more like a multi-modal transit center than just a place for commuters to leave their cars.


New waiting area and bike racks. Photo by Adam Lind.

The park and ride is in Centreville, close to Fair Lakes and I-66. There is a special HOV-only exit that makes it popular with commuters who want to either join a slug line or catch the bus.


Image from Google Maps.

It will be easier to catch a bus

New buses will service the park and ride, while existing routes will run more often, seven days a week. At rush hour, buses will run between Stringfellow and the Vienna Metro every 10 minutes.

A Fairfax Connector store will have resources for riders, as well as a place to wait for the bus. Also, more bus service is likely to come in the future thanks to Transform 66. That project will build HOT lanes between Haymarket and Falls Church that will be used by a number of express buses, which may originate or stop at Stringfellow Road.

There's a great option for storing your bike

Bicycling also gets a big boost thanks to the arrival of the county's second secure bike room. This facility will be similar to the now-popular bike room at the Reston-Wiehle Metro station.

The bike room is a great option for cyclists: the fact that you need a membership pass makes it much less likely for your bike to be stolen, and the shelter keeps your bike out of the elements. Some parking is available for bike trailers or other over-sized bicycles as well.


Inside the secure bike room. Photo by Adam Lind.

Adam Lind, Fairfax County's bicycle program coordinator, said that Fairfax has plans to provide secure bike parking at any regular parking garage built or funded by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. This includes garages built at future Silver Line Metro stations. He also said that members will be able to use any garage in the county's growing network.

Lind expects that biking to the Stringfellow Park and Ride will become even more popular since Transform 66 will many making bike and pedestrian options in surrounding neighborhoods better. One example: plans to extend the Custis Trail.

While the big transit news in Fairfax usually deals with Tyson's Corner and the Silver Line the new amenities at Stringfellow Road show that improvement is happening all over the our region's most populous jurisdiction.

Transit


What are your ideas to make Metro greater?

Metro is your transit system. How could it be greater? Now's your chance to make suggestions for small changes that can improve your experience on rail, bus, or paratransit.

WMATA is hard at work on the big safety fixes we need to have a rail system that works safely and reliable. But while that's underway, there are many smaller things Metro can do to improve the rider experience during SafeTrack and beyond.

To achieve that, we are launching MetroGreater, a crowdsourcing idea site for you to submit your ideas and comment on others. A jury will review the ideas and the public will get to vote among the finalists to pick a winner.

WMATA has committed to implementing the winning idea (as long as it meets the criteria below). And who knows—they might decide to implement more than one! The winner will also get recognition and some Metro memorabilia.


A recent small-scale improvement WMATA implemented. Photo from WMATA.

If you could make one small, quick improvement to Metro, what would it be?

Maybe your idea would help a lot of riders like the stickers that show where the train will stop or green "8"s denoting eight-car trains. Maybe you really want Metro to increase bicycle storage at your station like they did at NoMa a few years ago.

Maybe you know of some bus stops that could use some "appropriate technology" to alleviate the burden of remaining upright (a.k.a. plastic chairs to sit on). Or have ideas to improve the complaint-ridden MetroAccess paratransit service for a better rider experience.

Ideas must:

  • Improve the transit experience for all or some group of riders;
  • Be achievable by Metro on its own in 6 months or less (ideally 3);
  • Cost no more than $100,000;
  • Not cost much to continue into the future;
  • Not impair safety;
  • Not negatively impact service or interfere with other agency responsibilities; and
  • Comply with all laws and regulations.

While slides instead of escalators in your station might be fun, it's not really practical or safe in the long term. Sorry. Image from Volkswagen.

So you have a great idea, what's next?

Submit your idea at metrogreater.org by Friday, July 15. You know how awesome your idea is, but make sure others do too. Upload photos or sketches to help others get it.

How does the rest of the contest work?

Submissions will be accepted through July 15, 2016. Then, a jury of regional experts and advocates will select 5-10 submissions that meet all necessary criteria as finalists. The public will then vote for a winner in August, and WMATA will get to work after that.

  • Submission period: Tuesday, June 21 - Friday, July 15, 2016 (at 11:59 pm)
  • Finalist selection by jury: by Friday, August 5, 2016
  • Public voting on finalists: Monday, August 8 - Friday, August 19, 2016
  • Winning idea announced: by Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Read more and submit your idea at metrogreater.org. What can you come up with?

Transit


❤ Georgia Avenue's new red-surface bus lanes

DC's first bright red bus lanes now adorn four blocks of Georgia Avenue, near Howard University. DDOT crews added the red surface earlier this month.


Georgia Avenue's new red carpet for buses. All photos by the author.

The bus lanes run along both curbs, from Florida Avenue north to Barry Place. They speed Metrobus' busy 70-series line through what was the slowest section of Georgia Avenue north of downtown.


The bright red color is a strong visual clue to car drivers to stay out of the lane. It's a stark contrast to the Gallery Place bus lane a dozen blocks south, which is so poorly marked that many car drivers legitimately don't know it's there. For these four blocks, drivers will have no excuse.

Anecdotally, the red surface seems to be working pretty well. Most car drivers seem to stay out. To find out for sure, DDOT is in the process of collecting actual data, comparing the car violation rate now to the rate from before the red surface was added.

Nitty gritty

Cyclists and taxicabs are allowed the use the lanes in addition to buses. Signs along the street spell out the exact rules.

Since the lanes are along the curb, cars can enter them to turn right. Dashed white lane markings show where cars can enter.

To avoid wear-and-tear and to make the bus lanes safer for cyclists, the "red paint" is actually a gritty surface coating. If you walk along Georgia Avenue now, you can still see some of the leftover grit along the curb.

❤ the transit red carpet

By adding these lanes and marking them clearly, DC is taking an real step towards prioritizing street space for transit. At only four blocks long they're are a humble start, but a start nonetheless.

The "red carpet" is an increasingly common part of the street design toolbox in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle. It's great that DC is getting on board too.

With more transit lanes in the works for K Street, H Street, and 16th Street, this humble start will hopefully soon become a trend. A red surface would probably help them all.


Yay!

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Transit


Express trains wouldn't be of much help to Metro riders

Despite popular belief, having more tracks isn't necessary for proper maintenance of the Metro system. It also turns out that express tracks wouldn't provide much benefit to everyday riders, and it might even do more harm than good.


Photo by Phil King on Flickr.

This may seem a bit surprising to people familiar with express trains on the New York subway, where express tracks can cut a rider's trip by a third, or even a half. But New York's stops are spaced much more closely—an average of two to three per mile throughout the system—than Metro's. This means that a local train in New York spends much more of its time in stations than a Metro train, so there's a lot more time to be saved by skipping stops.

Here's how I simulated a system with express tracks:

With Metro, each mile travelled adds about 1.2 minutes to the trip, while each intermediate station adds about 1.1 minutes. I determined this by comparing the scheduled time to the distance between stations for each of the 93 pairs of adjacent stations in the system. From this data, I was able to model the travel time between all of the system's stations.

Along with a model for trip time, analyzing the possible benefits of express tracks requires a proposed set of local-only and express stations. To demonstrate the maximum benefit that could be achieved with express tracks, I considered a system with minimal express stops.

Along with transfer stations and the ends of lines, I chose nine of Metro's other high-ridership stations for expresses: Bethesda, Dupont Circle, Farragut North, Union Station, and Silver Spring on the Red Line; Foggy Bottom, Farragut West, and McPherson Square on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines; Pentagon City on the Yellow and Blue lines, and Columbia Heights on the Green and Yellow lines.


Map from WMATA, with alterations to show potential express stations by the author.

Express tracks aren't that useful if you aren't coming from the edges of the system

To determine how much time could be saved, I compared the current travel time between pairs of stations to the travel times my model predicted for express trains. Since doing this analysis for each of the 8148 possible station pairs, I analyzed the 30 station pairs with the highest AM rush hour ridership, based on October 2014 data. These station pairs represent ten percent of the total AM rush hour ridership, and include trips from the six most heavily used end-of-line stations to the downtown stations where the most AM rush hour trips terminate, particularly Farragut North and West.

If Metro were to have express trains, the maximum time savings for trips to Farragut Square would be from Shady Grove and New Carrollton. In each case, an express train would save riders eleven minutes, about one-third of their current trips. From Glenmont, Vienna, and Wiehle, the time savings would be about eight minutes—one quarter of the current trips—is saved; and from Franconia-Springfield, the savings would be six minutes—less than a fifth of the current trip.

The time savings would be much less for riders traveling from closer in: riders between the thirty station pairs I considered would save an average of four-and-a-half minutes. Riders traveling to or from less-used stations would likely save no time, since their stations would be local-only and waiting to transfer to an express would consume their time savings.

In comparison, riders on the New York subway can save much more time by taking express trains. In Manhattan, the IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line has 12 local-only and six express stops in the six miles from 96th Street to Chambers Street, while the IRT Lexington Avenue Line has 14 local-only and six express stops in the seven miles from 125th Street to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall.

Because of the close stop spacing, a local train on either line takes 30 minutes, for an average speed of 12 to 14 miles per hour, less than half of Metro's 30-mile-per-hour average speed. Express trains cut these trips by one-third to one-half, but they still only manage average speeds of around twenty miles per hour.

Having express tracks is one thing. Paying to run trains on them is another.

Even without express tracks, Metro's greater stop spacing allows Metro trains to maintain higher average speeds than New York subway express trains can manage in Manhattan. However, if the system had been built with express tracks throughout, it would still save riders some time, right?

Not necessarily. The usual explanation for why Metro couldn't have been built with express tracks is that doing so would have substantially increased construction costs, and significant amounts of the current system would have had to been cut to make up for this.

However, capital costs aren't the only issue: operating costs would need to be considered as well.

Maintaining current service frequency at local-only stops would mean that any express trains operated would have to be in addition to the service that operates today. During off-peak times, Metro's frequency—particularly on branches, where most local-only stops would be—is already minimal for a rapid-transit system.

Either the express tracks would be unused except during rush hour, or Metro would need a sizable increase in its operating budget, simply to operate the additional trains needed, without considering the additional rail car and track maintenance required. Given Metro's current struggles to obtain enough funding to operate the system we have, a system with express tracks would probably see significantly reduced frequencies at many stations.

The upside of the fact that running expresses often leads to a decreased frequency of locals is that a line with a pair of express tracks has twice the maximum capacity of a line with only local tracks. This is one reason that express tracks are beneficial on the New York subway, which has an annual ridership per mile of revenue track about three times that of Metro, even though most of its core lines, and many of its branch lines, have express tracks.

The fact that much of the system's ridership consists of north-south traffic on Manhattan, a narrow island with a limited number of possible north-south routes makes the New York subway a near-optimal situation for using express tracks to increase capacity. The London Underground, which has a similar total ridership and ridership and ridership per track mile to New York, but which operates in a more symmetric and much less geographically constrained city, achieves a high core capacity by having many double-tracked lines crisscrossing the urban core instead of a lower number of four-tracked lines with express tracks.

If we were to have more tracks, downtown would be the place for them

One section of the Metro system where express tracks could help solve capacity issues is the shared segment of the Orange, Silver, and Blue lines between Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory. The large number of commuters from Virginia who enter DC via the Rosslyn tunnel and the frequency reductions on branches needed in order to share one track-pair between three lines lead to severe congestion in this section of the system.

Express tracks here would eliminate the capacity issues that WMATA currently hopes to solve by building a separate Blue Line tunnel under M Street downtown. They would also shorten commute times for riders traveling to downtown from New Carrollton and Largo Town Center (though not from Virginia).

A four-track line between Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory—or elsewhere in the system—would also provide the benefit of providing a work-around when tracks have to be closed for maintenance or due to accidents. However, any argument for express tracks on Metro needs to depend on these benefits and increased capacity, rather than hopes of significantly faster service.

Budget


On Metro, not all off-peak discounts are created equal

Riding Metrorail outside of peak hours is less expensive, but the amount discounted off of the peak price varies quite a bit by how far you travel. Riders with the largest discounts are more likely than others to wait until off-peak fares start before they enter the system.


Photo by Malcolm Kenton.

Metrorail bases its fares on distances, meaning that usually, the farther you travel, the more you pay. Riders can find the peak and off-peak fares for their trips on the top of the fare payment machines in each system.

Peak fares are charged on weekdays from opening to 9:30 am, and again between 3:00 and 7:00 pm. Off-peak fares are in effect all other times. Around 9:30 am and 7:00 pm, you may notice riders idling outside faregates, waiting for the cheaper off-peak fares to kick in prior to swiping into their origin station.


Graphs by the author.

Presumably, these riders know what it would cost them to ride during both peak and off-peak times, and have decided that the savings are worth the wait. That doesn't mean, however, that they're more frugal than those who swipe in just before 7:00 pm and pay the more expensive peak fare—what's actually more likely is that those waiting get a bigger discount off their peak price than those who aren't.

What's interesting is that a lot of people don't know that off-peak fare discounts vary—Metro's planning blog itself describes off-peak fares as "generally a 25% reduction from peak fares" when in actuality, off-peak fares can range from a 19% to 40% reduction of peak fares. Riders simply know that they get a discount of some size, and they act accordingly.

Off-peak fares are capped differently from peak fares

So why do off-peak discounts vary so much, and who are the lucky riders getting the biggest savings?

Metro's off-peak fare structure was updated to its current fee-per-mile structure in 2012. At that time, to lessen the impact of a large off-peak fare increase for some riders, WMATA limited the percent increase between the old (2010) and new (2012) off-peak fares to 27%.

It turns out this "cap" only affects trips of just under seven and ten miles. WMATA also set the maximum off-peak fare at $3.60. This fare cap benefits riders with trips longer than 11 miles. Metro's current peak fare structure is simpler; the only limitation is a maximum peak fare of $5.90.

As seen below, when off-peak fare limits kick in, the difference between peak and off-peak fares is accentuated. Riders with trips of specific lengths (highlighted green) benefit from higher-percentage off-peak savings.

Basically, the large off-peak discounts are the unintentional outcomes of well-intentioned policies. These off-peak fare limits were aimed to benefit off-peak riders, but not necessarily sway would-be peak riders into off-peak travel.

And while the off-peak fare caps at just under seven and ten miles made sense in 2012, they seem a bit arbitrary now since most riders traveling these mileages probably aren't the same riders who the caps were initially intending to protect.

But hey, we'll take it!

You can read a more formal analysis of ridership patterns on my website.

Transit


Check out Montreal's transit network

In Montreal, the subway system has video screens that display more than just train arrival times, and stations double as art galleries. Thanks to low-cost measures like these, commuting in Montreal is a world-class experience.


Montreal's Société de transport de Montréal metro system. Image from STM.

Montreal has a subway called the the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) and a central train station called Gare Centrale, which is fed by six Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) regional rail lines and long distance rail (Via Rail and Amtrak), and an extensive network of traditional bus, electric bus and long distance bus.

There is also a central bus station, Gare d'autocars de Montréal, located adjacent to Berri-UQAM (a Metro transfer station where the Orange, Green and Yellow lines intersect), from which several of the local bus lines (including the 747 to the Montreal airport (YUL)) and the regional and long distance bus services originate/terminate.


AMT map—click for a larger version. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

STM's stations are a bit more lively than Metro's

Montreal subway stations vary widely in terms of design. At Station Lionel-Goulx, for example, which opened in 1978, DC riders feel at home because the orange-red tile and cement walls are reminiscent of the brutalist FBI building. But beyond that, STM stations are distinct from anything you'd find in the DC system in a number of ways.

The differences often begin right at the entrance. Given Montreal's northern location, the entrances to the city's subway are butterfly/diner-style doors that hinge at the middle—these protect against the elements, and are easy to open despite the changes in air pressure thanks to trains coming and going below.


The Mont-Royal station. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

The most obvious difference is in the central convenience store, Couche-Tard, located in the center of the platform. Couche-Tard is a regional chain, much like 7-11. Imagine a miniature 7-11 in the center platform of the lower level of Metro Center.


A Couche-Tard store in Station Lionel-Goulx. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Another obvious difference are the platform stickers indicating where to stand while waiting for passengers to exit from the train that is found at nearly every station.


Image from Wikipedia Commons.

In Montreal's view, stations don't gave to be grey

The Montreal metro views itself as an art gallery and takes its stewardship responsibility seriously. The STM partners with Art Public Montreal to increase awareness of Montreal as an international public art destination, and artwork is literally incorporated into station designs. Here, you can see stained glass incorporated into the walls at Champ-de-Mars:


Image from STM.

Another example of stained glass in station design, this time at Berri-UQAM:


Image from STM.

But it's not just the art that brightens up the space, it is the actual design of the stations themselves. Below is Station McGill, near McGill University. Notice the white columns, lighter materials used in the walls and ceilings, and, perhaps most strikingly, the video projector displays:


Station McGill. Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Less glamorous measures also help the system run smoothly

Metrovision, a private company run in conjunction with STM, first appeared in the Montreal system in 2004. It uses LCD display screens and video projectors to show news, weather, the time, and train arrivals.


Image from Wikipedia Commons.


Image from Transgesco.

Montreal's subway also has older displays similar to Metro's PIDs, which simply show the next arrival time. The Metrovision displays, however, could teach WMATA a thing or two about about communicating with riders, along with how to make some additional revenue in the process.

After finding that more than half of the more than 1,000 delays in 2012 were caused by passenger actions, including holding open doors or pulling the emergency brake upon missing their stop, Montreal beefed up its enforcement of the law that says people can't keep a train from departing.


Image from STM.

Every train door has a sticker warning passengers that blocking the door when it is closing is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine of up to $500.


Image from Reddit user 4011Hammock.

There are also signs reminding people to be polite riders:


Image from STM.

Take a look at Montreal's hardware

Recently, like Metro, STM began receiving new train cars. Theirs are called Azur. Montreal's system is a bit different from Metro in that the trains consist of nine-linked cars trains that use rubber tires. The new Azur cars have full width walkways between cars, which increases the capacity of each train by 8%.


Image from STM.

The 747 is a bus line linking Trudeau Airport running through downtown to the Gare de Autocars de Montreal. It runs 24 hours a day, typically every 10-15 minutes during peak travel times, taking about 45-60 minutes to arrive downtown depending on highway traffic.

The 747 is limited stop, stopping on major cross streets downtown near hotels. Busses are equipped with wi-fi and the $10 fare includes an unlimited 24 hour day pass that you can use throughout the STM system.


The 747 route. Image from STM.

Montreal is getting some important new rail projects

Five new stations are planned for the east end of the STM's Blue Line, a move that's likely to add an additional 80,000 new daily riders to the system. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who ascended to the Liberal Party leader as a Member of Parliament representing a riding (Congressional District) in Montreal, has promised to fund the extension, estimated to cost $1.8 billion.

The extension would add an additional 5.5 kilometers to the system. This is no Silver Line—it would go in dense urban neighborhoods and would serve an area desperately in need of additional transit options.


The Blue Line extension. Image from AMT.

Montreal is also getting a new light rail system. On April 22, the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, a pension management Crown corporation, proposed building a new $5 billion light rail system which would connect the transit-neglected West Island, North Shore, South Shore and the Montreal Trudeau Airport with downtown Montreal.

The new system would be fully automated, extend 67 kilometers and encompass 24 new stations.


Image from CDPQ.
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