RD613 - How Virginia Is Using Transit and Transportation Demand Management Programs to Address Highway Congestion and Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) Travel – 2016

Executive Summary:
This document is the Secretary of Transportation’s report to the Virginia General Assembly summarizing efforts undertaken in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the 2016 fiscal year (FY16) 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 Chapter 733 of the 2010 Acts of Assembly.

Prepared in consultation and cooperation with the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) and the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), this report details the growing impact the Commonwealth’s transit, rail, and TDM programs are having in economic development and competitiveness, as well as the ways they are providing our citizens with access to jobs, education, and healthcare. This report also details how Virginia’s passenger rail, transit, vanpooling, carpooling, and other TDM programs are expanding the Commonwealth’s transit infrastructure in a holistic, efficient, multimodal, and increasingly seamless manner.

Examples of specific rail, transit, and TDM programs that are making an impact in FY16 are presented in this report.

Investments in Transit, Rail, and TDM Are Making an Impact

This year’s report provides evidence that these programs are making an impact in the Commonwealth. In FY16 DRPT compiled data from a statewide research study that surveyed nearly 10,000 Virginians in every region to learn about their mobility attitudes and behaviors. The study—the DRPT 2015 Statewide Mobility Study (or Mobility Study for short)—was fielded in the spring and summer of 2015. This comprehensive study’s goal was to collect data on travel behavior and attitudes for trips related to work, errands, and pleasure.

The Mobility Study reveals key findings about the current state of travel in Virginia. Where possible, the new data is compared to the 2007 Virginia State of the Commute Study, to gain further insight on how mobility options in Virginia have changed.

The Mobility Study reveals that Virginia has become more multimodal. Statewide, the share of drive-alone work trips has decreased from 81.6% in 2007 to 76.6% in 2015. This five?percentage?point decrease in work trips equates to an overall decline of 6%. While impressive, what makes this decrease in SOV travel even more noteworthy is that it took place as Virginia’s population grew from 7.7 million in 2007 to 8.3 million in 2015. So, while there was a 7.8% increase in Virginia’s population during the study period, there was simultaneously a 6% decrease in drive?alone work trips.
This reduction in drive?alone work trips is because the use of transit and telework has increased dramatically. While carpooling and vanpooling are not increasing, the study results show an increase in transit use (train and bus), teleworking, and compressed work schedules. The increased use of transit represents a small but substantial shift. Train use (Metrorail, VRE, the TIDE, Amtrak) increased from 3.3% to 3.8% from 2007 to 2015, while bus use nearly doubled from 1.8% to 3.0% in the same period. Taken together, transit use rose from 5.1% in 2007 to 6.8% in 2015—a 33% increase. In 2007, 4.5% of commuters reported that they teleworked or had compressed work schedules, while in 2015 this proportion increased to 8.3%.

The DRPT 2015 Statewide Mobility Study (or Mobility Study for short) shows that commute mode plays a role in satisfaction with commute to work. The most satisfied are those who commute via bike/walk (93%), followed by those who commute via bus (73%) and train (70%). Additionally, those who commute by bus and train are more likely to be satisfied with the transportation system (58% and 51%, respectively). Considered together, these results show that:

• Those who are satisfied with the transportation system in their area are significantly more likely to view their quality of life favorably.

• Commuters who bike or walk to work are the group most satisfied with their trip to work; commute satisfaction is higher for buses and trains than for driving alone.

• Commute satisfaction is strongly related to commute length; the shorter the commute, the more satisfied commuters are with their trip.

The key takeaways from the Mobility Study are:

1. Virginia is becoming more multimodal, and the availability of transportation mode choices such as transit, vanpooling and carpooling, and cycling is making this possible. Where transportation mode choices are available, Virginians are getting out of their single?occupant vehicles and using other modes of travel to get around in the Commonwealth.

2. Investing in choices of transportation modes pays dividends with residents. Residents who are more satisfied with Virginia’s transportation system rate their quality of life higher and there is a clear relationship between satisfaction levels with work commutes and satisfaction with Virginia’s transportation system.

3. Getting more people to commute to work by bus or train (compared to other modes) is a smart investment. Virginians who rely on these commuting modes are much more satisfied with the transportation system. More people would use the bus or train if there were more service available.

4. Investment in transportation mode choices is widely supported. The vast majority of Virginians, including commuters in single?occupant vehicles, see the value of investing in alternatives to driving alone such as improved transit service.

Preparing for the Future – Key Initiatives

A partial list of the ongoing and/or planned initiatives that DRPT is pursuing in 2017, and beyond, include:

• The Atlantic Gateway Project is a corridor approach to improving mobility across the Eastern Seaboard by unblocking the I?95 corridor from congestion. It will bring together $1.4 billion in road and rail projects capped off by the awarding of a federal FASTLANE grant of $165 million that will help to complete the project’s financial plan. The Atlantic Gateway project improvements will increase the movement of passenger and commuter rail, freight trains, and highway vehicles through one of the most congested corridors on the East Coast. Components of the project include: Interstate 395 Express Lanes extension, including upgrades for transit and HOV access to the Pentagon, reinvestment of toll revenues throughout the corridor to support capital and operating needs of new transit service and transportation demand management (TDM) strategies, construction of a fourth track to the Long Bridge from Alexandria, construction of 8 miles of third track parallel to the 95 rail corridor from Springfield South, new capacity for additional Virginia Railway Express (VRE) trains, Interstate 95 Express Lanes extension from Garrisonville to Fredericksburg, construction of a southbound collector?distributor bridge on I?95 from Route 17 to Route 3, and new commuter park?and?ride lots and pavement markings to help support autonomous vehicles;

• Continued collaboration with VDOT on the extention of the I?395 Express Lanes and developing and executing related transit, TDM, and congestion mitigation efforts that will complement the expansion of the Express Lanes. This project will extend the 395 Express Lanes for eight miles north from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road to the vicinity of Eads Street in Arlington. The two existing HOV lanes (or High Occupancy Toll) lanes will be converted to express lanes and a third lane will be added, providing three reversible express lanes. The improvements primarily will be built within the existing footprint of the I?395 HOV lanes. There will be a dedicated annual payment by Transurban for transit services and multimodal strategies identified in a study led by Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation. Construction is expected to begin in 2017, with the new extended lanes opening in 2019;

• Transform 66: Outside the Beltway ? VDOT and DRPT, in cooperation with local, state, and federal stakeholders, evaluated improvement alternatives for the I?66 corridor from US?15 in Prince William County to I?495 in Fairfax County. Under the proposed multimodal project, I?66 would be improved to provide three regular lanes and two Express Lanes (free for HOV?3+ or dynamically tolled) in each direction, high?frequency bus service during extended peak periods, five new or expanded park?and?ride facilities with approximately 6,500 total spaces by 2040, TDM strategies to manage travel demand and promote alternative, shared ride travel options, and bicycle and pedestrian trail and improvements. Nonstop commuter bus service between Gainesville and the Pentagon will begin on December 12, 2016, funded through NVTC’s Transform 66 Multimodal Project. It will serve up to 226 passengers during each morning and evening rush hour;

• Transform 66: Inside the Beltway ? VDOT and DRPT, in cooperation with local, state, and federal stakeholders, are evaluating improvement alternatives for the I?66 corridor from I?495 in Fairfax County to US 29 in Arlington County. The multimodal project is focused on moving more people, improving connectivity in the corridor, and providing new travel options;

• The Washington, D.C.?to?Richmond (DC2RVA) segment of the Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) project is part of a larger nationwide higher?speed intercity passenger rail plan identified by USDOT, Virginia, and North Carolina. The DC2RVA project is funded by three sources: the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) High Speed Rail Grant, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), and CSX Transportation (CSXT).

• The Roanoke Amtrak Service extension ? In 2017 DRPT will build on its partnership with Amtrak to provide passengers with convenient service to Washington and other Northeast Corridor destinations. Recognizing the demand for passenger rail service in Virginia, demonstrated by growth throughout the Commonwealth, DRPT will lead the expansion of Amtrak passenger rail service to Roanoke and develop a new State Rail Plan (SRP) in 2017.

• Vanpool!VA – A statewide vanpool program developed by DRPT to increase the number of vanpools and vanpool ridership in Virginia, particularly in congested corridors. Vanpool!VA was designed to help DPRT, VDOT and Virginia’s transportation partners move more people through Virginia’s roadways, particularly the congested corridors, and to provide commute options for Virginians. This program consists of partnerships, promotion of vanpooling and financial assistance to start new vanpools, increase vanpool ridership and to sustain long?term operations of vanpools.

• A new State Rail Plan (SRP);

• A statewide vanpool inventory and impact study;

• The new Newport News multimodal station, and;

• Reconfiguring the Acca Yard for more efficient operation.

These initiatives are all described in greater detail in the Preparing for the Future section.