Posts about Reston
WMATA planners helped STLTransit create an animation of transit across the entire Washington region. That's possible because WMATA has a single data file with all regional agencies' schedules. They hope to make that file public; that would fuel even more tools that aid the entire region.
Click full screen and HD to see the most detail.
One of the obstacles for people who want to build trip planners, analyze what areas are accessible by transit, design visualizations, or create mobile apps is that our region has a great many transit agencies, each with their own separate data files.
Want to build a tool that integrates Metrobus, Fairfax Connector, and Ride On? You have to chase down a number of separate files from different agencies in a number of different places, and not all agencies offer open data at all.
The effect is that many tool builders, especially those outside the region, don't bother to include all of our regional systems. For example, the fun tool Mapnificent, which shows you everywhere you can reach in a set time from one point by transit, only includes WMATA, DC Circulator, and ART services. That means it just won't know about some places you can reach in Fairfax, Alexandria, Montgomery, or Prince George's.
Sites like this can show data for many cities all across the world without the site's author having to do a bunch of custom work in every city, because many transit agencies release their schedules in an open file format called the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). Software developer Matt Caywood has been maintaining a list of which local agencies offer GTFS files as well as open real-time data.
We've made some progress. Fairfax Connector, for example, recently started offering its own GTFS feed. But while DASH has one, you have to email them for it, and there's none for Prince George's The Bus.
The best way to foster more neat tools and apps would be to have a single GTFS file that includes all systems. As it turns out, there is such a beast. WMATA already has all of the schedules for all regional systems for its own trip planner. It even creates a single GTFS file now.
Michael Eichler wrote on PlanItMetro that they give this file to the regional Transportation Planning Board for its modeling, and offered it to STLTransit, who have been making animations showing all transit in a region across a single day.
This is one of many useful ways people could use the file. How about letting others get it? Eichler writes, "We are working to make this file publicly available."
Based on the STLTransit video, WMATA's file apparently includes 5 agencies that Caywood's list says have no public GTFS files: PG's TheBus, PRTC OmniLink and OmniRide, Fairfax CUE, Frederick TransIT, and Loudoun County Transit. It also covers Laurel Connect-a-Ride, Reston LINK, Howard Transit, the UM Shuttle, and Annapolis Transit, which aren't even on that list and which most software developers might not even think to look for even if they did have available files.
Last I heard, the obstacles to the file being public included WMATA getting permission from the regional transit agencies, and some trepidation by folks inside the agency about whether they should take on the extra work to do this or would get criticized if the file has any errors.
Let's hope they can make this file public as soon as possible. Since it already exists, it should be a no-brainer. If any regional agencies or folks at WMATA don't understand why this is good for transit, a look at this video should bring it into clear focus.
Within the confines of the District of Columbia, the question of whether to allow tall buildings is a subject of much debate. But in the burgeoning urban centers of Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, there is no question: more tall buildings are coming.
For many decades Rosslyn has been home to the tallest skyscrapers in the Washington region. The taller of its Twin Towers is 381 feet tall. But soon that building will rank no better than 3rd tallest in Rosslyn alone, with the 384 foot tall 1812 North Moore and the 387 foot tall Central Place in construction or soon to begin.
Even with those new buildings, Rosslyn could soon lose its crown. Buildings as tall as 396 feet could soon be built around the Eisenhower Metro station in Alexandria. They would eclipse Alexandria's current tallest building, the 338 foot tall Mark Center Hilton.
Tysons Corner is in on the action too. It's tallest buildings right now are the 254 foot Ritz Carlton and the 253 foot 1850 Towers Crescent. But at 365 feet, a building in the proposed Scotts Run Station development will soon dominate.
In Maryland, North Bethesda Market I topped out last year at 289 feet tall, beating out Gaithersburg's 275 foot tall Washingtonian Tower and thus becoming Montgomery County's new tallest skyscraper. Its reign will be short-lived, as a new 300 foot tall ziggurat has already been proposed nearby.
And this week, big news is coming to Reston and Crystal City.
Fairfax County approved a 330 foot building in Reston yesterday that will become the tallest building in the Reston Town Center cluster.
Meanwhile, the Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote this coming weekend to either approve or deny a 297 foot building in Crystal City that would tower well above all its neighbors. Tall buildings have long been constrained there by restrictions due to Reagan National Airport, but those rules recently changed, so taller buildings are now allowed.
These aren't particularly tall buildings by the standards of large central cities. Baltimore and Virginia Beach both have buildings over 500 feet tall, and the world's current record holder is a whopping 2,717 feet. But still, the trend in the DC area is unmistakable; buildings are getting taller, and will most likely continue to do so.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
Georgetown Metropolitian's rendering of a possible Georgetown Metro station, adjacent to the PNC bank branch
put in a fence. Remind you of Owings Mills? (FABB via WashCycle)
Two more for walking: Maryland Delegate William Bronrott (Montgomery) and Senator James Rosapepe (Prince George's) want some school construction money to go toward pedestrian safety for schoolchildren, along with more of the state's school transportation aid instead of for buses and driving. (WTOP)
Transit, not so much: People might walk to school, but it'll be harder to ride transit, as Maryland cuts buses, mid-day and weekend MARC, holiday service, and more. Of course, the ICC still hasn't been cut (though new bonds are on hold). (Post Get There)
What's your neighborhood like? A cute tool lets you see which neighborhoods are like others in other cities (via DCist). Their methodology doesn't capture the intangibles
cutting transportation projects across the board except for the ICC, which is "protected" under its financing agreement. With people trimming their driving, the ICC is exactly what Maryland no longer needs, while the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway, which suffered cuts, become even more necessary. (Post)
PG's existing towns already have centers: Imagine, DC critiques Prince George's current pattern of building large, mostly-isolated "town centers" far from transit (as we discussed around Konterra). Metro stations and existing towns along MARC are the right places for development.
Respecting Reston's residents: Community groups in Reston are concerned about development plans the county is preparing to guide future development in Reston. This article in the Connection quotes what sound like some typical anti arguments about density and traffic, but also others who sensibly want to minimize traffic by making the Dulles (RCIG) corridor more mixed-use. (Ben T.)
Herndon admits bicyclists are people too: Outraged cyclists complained when a Herndon councilmember proposed banning bike parking downtown, intended to repel day laborers. In response, Herndon's mayor has created a pedestrian and bicycle committee and promised to improve bicycle conditions. (Via WashCycle)
Some buses only 50% on time: WMATA didn't even have the capability to measure its bus on-time performance until now, and it has discovered what we all already knew: Metrobuses aren't very reliable. Turns out they're only on time about 75% of the time on average, with some routes performing down around 50%. (Post)
get a feed of publicly-accessible information (like crime reports, requests for service from DDOT, DPW, etc., new real estate listings, and more) around any address.
I'm not finding the default feed for my address that useful, because I don't need to see everyone's requests for trash pickup, don't want to buy another house, and don't care every time someone posts a review of Komi or Sushi Taro on Yelp, but I'm looking forward to playing with it more and figuring out which information I really want. (If only the requests for parking enforcement had more detail, now that would be really interesting).
Pepcomobiles? An entrepreneur is trying to remake the auto industry to be more like the cell phone industry, but with electric cars: a network of charging stations where selling power, not vehicles, is the business model. Via Ryan Avent.
SF to consolidate bus lines, add expresses: SF Muni released their Transit Effectiveness Project report, which will improve service on important bus lines and consolidate others. When there is a low-frequency bus on every street, nobody has a good option for where to wait. Will WMATA do the same?
Mixed-use Dulles corridor might be impossible: Most Reston development along the Dulles corridor is office-only, thanks to Fairfax County pressure, and it might be impossible to change it to allow mixed-use development around future Silver Line stations. A change requires 90% of landowners to agree. Tip: Ben T.
NYT op-eds on mobility: Ryan Avent (guest blogging for Ezra Klein) reviews a trio of op-eds in the New York Times about transportation, some okay, some terrible, but none considering the real solution to their problem: congestion pricing.
- Cyclists are special and do have their own rules
- M Street cycle track keeps improving, draws church anger
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools
- O'Malley announces first projects using new gas tax money
- ICC losing bus service in classic bait and switch
- WMATA launches "Short Trip" rail pass on SmarTrip
- Small changes can make walking to school safer