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Expert Insights on Potential Impact of WMATA’s SafeTrack

Contact our Media Staff:

Alyssa Wolice,
Communications Coordinator
E-mail: awolice@umd.edu
Phone: (301) 405-2057

Lee Tune,
Senior Media Relations Associate
Email: ltune@umd.edu
Phone: (301) 405-4679

 

Metro SafeTrack Impact on Individual Travel Behavior & Regional Traffic Conditions

As D.C.-area commuters prepare for imminent Metrorail single-tracking and station closures, University of Maryland (UMD) transportation experts at the National Transportation Center (NTC@Maryland) are using transportation modeling and simulation technologies to enable commuters to make informed decisions while the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) SafeTrack plan is in effect.

On June 4, 2016, WMATA began implementing a track work plan centered on 15 “Safety Surge” periods and expanded weekday maintenance opportunities, extending into 2017. NTC@Maryland conducts travel surveys (mail, web, and smartphone-based) and transportation system modeling analyses to observe and predict how individual travelers adjust their travel decisions in response to specific SafeTrack maintenance events that temporarily shut down or reduce the level of Metrorail service from June 2016 through March 2017. The NTC@Maryland research team is also working to predict and track transportation system performance and regional traffic conditions before, during, and after each of the 15 SafeTrack safety surges.

For each SafeTrack event, NTC@Maryland will publish a volume consisting of one or several issues that summarize research findings before, during, and after the surge project.

Available volumes: 

Safety Surge 6: 

  • Published on the morning of Aug. 1, 2016Volume 6 Issue 1 indicates that, in response to the Aug. 1-Aug. 7 continuous single-tracking between the Takoma and Silver Spring Metrorail stations, area traffic congestion and the resulting travel times during the weekday surge will be slightly increased compared to previous SafeTrack surges.

Safety Surge 2: 

  • Published on the afternoon of June 23, 2016, Volume 2 Issue 2 indicates that, in response to the June 18-July 3 Metrorail shutdown between the Eastern Market and Minnesota Ave/Benning Road stations, traffic congestion and the resulting travel times on the first weekday of the surge were within the range of congestion levels travelers typically experience. The level of congestion on I-495 and US-50 during the morning peak was near the upper bound of the range of congestion travelers had experienced on Mondays in the previous two months. This Issue also includes behavioral survey data related to the second safety surge. 
  • Published on the afternoon of June 17, 2016, Volume 2 Issue 1 indicates that, in response to the June 18-July 3 Metrorail shutdown between the Eastern Market and Minnesota Ave/Benning Road stations, area drivers should expect a slightly more significant traffic impact on I-495, although major traffic concerns are not anticipated. NTC@Maryland advises that I-495 drivers may want to depart five minutes earlier during the weekday peak hours for the duration of the second safety surge project. Metrorail riders, however, should expect long delays and significant crowding on trains, particularly during peak travel hours. 

Safety Surge 1: 

  • Published on the afternoon of June 9, 2016, Volume 1 Issue 1 indicates that, in response to the June 4-16 continuous single-tracking of the Orange and Silver Lines, Metrorail riders should continue to expect long delays and significantly more crowding on trains, particularly during peak travel hours. Drivers, however, should not expect to notice a difference in traffic conditions on the major roadways in Virginia (I-66, I-395, I-495) nearest the location of WMATA's first safety surge project.

Statement on release of data:

These information products include preliminary data as part of an ongoing effort by NTC@Maryland to inform the public, commuters, and local agencies with time-sensitive information needs. Due to the immediacy of SafeTrack work plans, these data are being made available prior to undergoing a peer-review process. All data are considered to satisfy the quality standards relative to the purpose for which the data were collected.

Additional resources: