RD302 - How Virginia Is Using Transit and Transportation Demand Management Programs to Address Highway Congestion and Single Occupant Vehicle Travel

Executive Summary:
This document is the Secretary of Transportation’s FY 2012 report to the General Assembly on recent efforts undertaken in the Commonwealth of Virginia to address highway congestion and Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) Travel. The report addresses the annual reporting requirement of Chapter 733 of the 2010 Acts of Assembly.

Prepared in consultation and cooperation with the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner and the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), this report details 1) the major demographic trends reshaping Virginia; 2) FY 2012 passenger rail, transit and transportation demand management (TDM) initiatives recently launched to address these trends; and 3) how these initiatives are advancing the Commonwealth 21st century multimodal transportation system.

Major Demographic Trends Shaping Virginia’s Future

Three seismic demographic trends continue to reshape America and the Commonwealth of Virginia: population growth; the growth of urban areas; and, the growing diversity of residents. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division projects that Virginia’s population will increase by 22 percent by 2030, from 8 to 9.8 million residents (2010 Census). The majority of Virginia’s population growth is projected to occur in Virginia’s segment of the Golden Crescent, the heavily populated, and most congested, geographic corridor that runs from Baltimore down through Metro Washington and the Richmond region and over to Hampton Roads. The population boom will also change Virginia’s racial composition. By the year 2047, demographers expect that Virginia’s minority population will become the majority.

As Virginia’s population grows, so too will traffic congestion. Despite thoughtful planning efforts to increase Virginia’s roadway supply, the Commonwealth cannot keep pace with demand, especially in the urban areas. The lack of transportation funding and lack of space for more roadways creates an imbalance. The result is a growing level of congestion and a decreasing level of access and mobility. Perhaps the most realistic way to address this imbalance is to do a more effective job at managing the demand that is placed on our roadway system; and this is precisely what Virginia’s transportation community is doing.

Fiscal Year 2012: Connecting More Partners, People and Places Through 10 Core Strategies

In FY 2012, Virginia made great strides in reducing SOV travel and minimizing congestion by increasing the availability and use of alternative transportation choices – passenger rail, transit and TDM solutions. This was accomplished in large part by connecting more transportation partners, people, and places through ten interrelated strategies.

In Virginia, increasing the use of passenger rail, transit and other options to SOV travel (bike, walk and telework) is orchestrated through a unique partnership of state, regional and local agencies, and innovative businesses. Key members of Virginia’s rail, transit and TDM community include state transportation agencies, rail partners (intercity passenger rail provider Amtrak, commuter rail provider Virginia Railway Express, CSX and Norfolk Southern), planning district commissions (PDCs), transportation management associations (TMAs), transit agencies, transportation demand management (TDM) agencies or local commuter services programs, private TDM service providers, and hundreds of public agencies and private?sector businesses through their own employer?based transportation programs.

Together, Virginia’s transportation partners connected more residents and travelers across Virginia to travel and traffic information through the latest state?of?the?art information delivery systems. Across the Commonwealth, variable message boards posting travel times were erected, a comprehensive Park and Ride Lot online database was created, and more “next bus” electronic signs were installed than in any year past. Also, transit and TDM agencies took advantage of the growing availability of mobile technology by offering information and services to smart phone and tablet users, while VDOT upgraded and re?launched the Commonwealth’s 511 telephone and online traffic information service.

Fiscal Year 2012 Core Strategies: A Multifaceted, Integrated Approach

To make these examples and well over a hundred other rail, transit and TDM initiatives happen in FY 2012, Virginia’s passenger rail, transit and TDM community concentrated on 10 core strategies to reduce SOV travel and peak time congestion:

1. Understand and Focus on Customer Needs

2. Maintain and Build on Virginia’s Current Investment in the Existing Transit and TDM Infrastructure

3. Maximize Efficiency of Existing Transit and TDM Infrastructure

4. Build New Capacity

5. Provide New, Innovative Service Delivery

6. Leverage Technology to Promote Awareness and Familiarity with Travel Options

7. Build Awareness and Support for Transit, Commuter Services and Other Travel Options

8. Encourage Employer Support and Active Involvement in Offering Transit and Other TDM Alternatives

9. Encourage Multimodal Commuting Through Innovation

10. Seek New and Sustainable Funding Sources

This report to the General Assembly is organized around these 10 core strategies. Example initiatives of each strategy are showcased in the body of this report. All of the FY 2012 initiatives, as reported by Virginia’s rail, transit and TDM agencies, are presented in the Appendix of this report which is available on DRPT’s website – www.drpt.virginia.gov.

Fiscal Year 2012 Outcome: Increasing Use of Alternatives to SOV Travel and Planning for the Road Ahead

The 10 core strategies and related initiatives are making a difference in reducing SOV travel and helping to mitigate congestion.

Between FY 2010 and FY 2012, transit ridership in Virginia increased by nine percent from 180.9 million trips to 196.4 million trips. The state’s TDM programs also delivered results. A prime example is the impact Arlington County Commuter Services’ program had in eliminating more than 40,000 SOV trips from Northern Virginia’s roadway system. Considering that the average lane of interstate highway carries approximately 4,000 to 6,000 vehicles during the daily rush period, this impact is larger than the eight inbound lanes of I?395 and I?66 carry during the three?hour morning rush period, and five times larger than the morning passenger trips made on VRE commuter rail.

Eliminating over 40,000 trips also eliminated over 755,517 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) each business day with a savings of about 31,425 gallons of gas each day and the daily reduction of 695,619 tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), 548 pounds of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and 318 pounds of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).

While much was achieved in FY 2012, perhaps one of the most profound accomplishments was the thoughtful planning that was conducted to guide our future rail, transit and TDM strategies and programming. Throughout the year, Virginia’s passenger rail, TDM and transit community worked together on a series of comprehensive long?term plans. These included the Super NoVa Transit and Transportation Demand Management Vision Plan, the I?95 Transit and TDM Plan, the VDOT Park and Ride Lot Study, Multimodal and Public Spaces Design Guidelines, the DRPT Business Plan, and the Statewide Transit and TDM Plan.

All of these plans will provide guidance and direction for Virginia’s rail, transit and TDM programs for years to come. They will also afford the entire transportation community a more integrated and seamless planning and implementation perspective. For example, the Statewide Transit/TDM Plan update, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012, will support the VTrans 2035 update that is currently under way.

Report Summary

There are two major conclusions from this report to the General Assembly on recent efforts undertaken in Virginia to address highway congestion and Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) Travel. First, Virginia’s passenger rail, transit and TDM community are hard at work. Throughout FY 2012, this community worked together using 10 core strategies to launch over a hundred rail, transit and TDM programming initiatives. Second, these initiatives are making a difference. In FY 2012, Virginia’s passenger rail, transit and TDM community demonstrated the power of connecting partners, people and places to help expand the use of alternatives to SOV travel and mitigate congestion. As major demographic trends are expected to increase levels of congestion, especially in the most populated regions of Virginia, more and more demand will be placed on providing alternatives to SOV travel – passenger rail, transit, and TDM services.