RD316 - How Virginia is Using Transit and Transportation Demand Management Programs to Address Highway Congestion and Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) Travel

Executive Summary:
This document is the Secretary of Transportation’s FY 2013 report to the General Assembly summarizing recent efforts undertaken in the Commonwealth of Virginia to leverage the state’s investment in passenger rail, transit and transportation demand management (TDM) programs to address highway congestion and Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) Travel. The report addresses the annual reporting requirement of § 33.1?223.2:24 of the Code of Virginia, 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 describes several transcendent trends that are increasing the importance of impact measurement and reporting for transportation systems, in general, and transit and TDM programs, in particular. These trends include the federal transportation legislation – MAP-21, major demographic trends, and an emerging cultural shift to more “walkable,” sustainable communities. The report also sites numerous examples of passenger rail, transit and TDM initiatives that address and/or capitalize on these trends and collectively are positioning the Commonwealth of Virginia in a leadership role by deploying an efficient, holistic and impactful multimodal transportation system.

Making An Impact In 2013

Across the nation, the success of transit, rail and TDM programs are being carefully measured and reported upon, often focusing on key metrics, including:

1. Moving People – measuring and reporting ridership of transit, passenger rail, vanpooling and carpooling.

2. Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled – measuring how transit, rail and TDM programs reduce the use of single occupant vehicle travel.

3. Maintaining modal split – the share of travel by alternative modes compared to single occupancy vehicles while populations and workforces change.

4. Improving Air Quality by Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions – measuring the positive impact transit, rail and TDM programs have on air quality.

5. Energy Savings (Gallons of Fuel) – measuring the positive impact transit, rail and TDM programs have on reducing fuel consumption, saving energy and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

6. Redirecting money back into the local economy.

7. Improving Transportation System Efficiency – How transit, rail and TDM programs make the Commonwealth’s transportation system more efficient.

8. Congestion Mitigation – How transit, rail and TDM programs help reduce congestion.

9. Shaping a state’s or region’s economic development opportunities.

10. Awards and Commendations – While not an official annual performance measure, being recognized from national transportation organizations on how rail, transit and TDM programs are making an impact validates the success of local, regional and statewide programs.

Virginia’s transit, rail and TDM programs are delivering results - making an impact - across all ten measures.

Major Tends Shaping Virginia’s Future and Increasing the Importance of Impact Reporting

MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, demands improved transportation investment decision making through performance-based planning and programming. Under MAP-21, performance management, program restructuring, and the creation of two new formula programs have increased accountability for program efficiency and measurable results. During the 2013 Virginia General Assembly Session (Senate Bill 1140) the Transit Service Delivery Advisory Committee (TSDAC) was established to advise DRPT in the development of a distribution process for transit capital and operating funds and help implement performance-based funding for mass transit.

From passenger rail and transit to bicycle and pedestrian paths, Virginia’s transit and TDM programs understand, and are poised to flourish within, this new surface transportation landscape. DRPT measures program efficiency, their impacts on modal split, reductions in vehicle miles traveled and other key metrics that quantify program effectiveness. Initiatives like the Super NoVa Transit and TDM Vision Plan, which takes a broader view of what constitutes a region and holistically examines commuting patterns within Northern Virginia, have disregarded traditional jurisdictional boundaries in favor of more comprehensive, efficient and impactful transportation and TDM recommendations.

Seismic demographic trends also 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, based on projections from the 2010 Census. Virginia’s largest urban areas will see the majority of this growth, which is consistent with the second biggest demographic force reshaping America – urbanization.

Spearheaded by organizations like Smart Growth America, http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org , and supported by the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Livability Initiative, the emerging cultural shift towards walkable and sustainable communities is taking hold throughout the nation and here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. There is a critical symbiotic relationship between transit and TDM programs and smart growth strategies in evolving urban areas into more sustainable, walkable communities. Smart growth strategies help to develop transportation systems that better serve more people while fostering economic vitality for both businesses and communities. These strategies include developing and offering a rich mix of transit options like buses, trolleys, subways, light rail, street cars and ferries which accommodate more travelers in the same space and create better options for getting between home and work.

Nationally and in Virginia, many young professionals, typically defined as people under 40, are eschewing car ownership in favor of tapping into the growing menu of transit options in the country’s most popular urban areas. The national media regularly reports on young professionals who astutely recognize some of the burdens placed on them from car ownership and the convenience and flexibility of using public transportation. While this trend has car manufacturers scratching their heads, the leadership of forward-looking cities are evolving their transportation infrastructure to offer a broad menu of alternatives to driving alone such as bike and car-sharing services in an effort to attract and retain more young professionals.

Making An Impact with 10 Core Strategies

In FY 2013, Virginia’s passenger rail, transit and TDM community continued to concentrate on 10 core strategies to reduce SOV travel and peak time congestion. These strategies include:

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. Leveraging 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. Encouraging Multimodal Commuting Through Innovation

10. Seek New and Sustainable Funding Sources

These 10 core strategies continue to deliver results. In FY 2013, Virginia’s passenger rail, transit and TDM programs helped address congestion and reduced SOV travel as measured through modal split, use of transit, ridership on state-sponsored rail service, trips reduced, energy saved and Greenhouse Gases eliminated.

Report Summary

There are several major conclusions from this report to the General Assembly on recent efforts undertaken in Virginia to help mitigate traffic congestion and reduce single occupancy vehicle (SOV) travel. First, the Virginia passenger rail, transit and TDM communities remain committed to making a positive impact. Throughout FY 2013, these transit and TDM professionals have worked collaboratively using ten core strategies to launch a myriad of rail, transit and TDM initiatives. As this report details, these initiatives are making an impact.

DRPT continues to provide leadership helping transit and TDM programs throughout the state to develop and implement innovative programs that produce measurable impacts that reduce vehicle trips, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), vehicle emissions and conserve gasoline. Forward looking strategies like the Super NoVa Transit/ TDM Vision Plan look beyond traditional local, regional and state boundaries to determine how best to move people in and around the greater Northern Virginia area. Looking ahead, DRPT is currently working on developing and collecting even more detailed performance measurements from all of the state’s transit and TDM programs to optimize the success and impact of these vital programs.