Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Jan
4

Apps Spell End of an Era

WAMU, the region’s National Public Radio station, announced that beginning November 16th  they would no longer broadcast Jerry Edward’s traffic updates.  Edwards has been broadcasting traffic reports on Washington radio and TV for over 31 years.

WAMU’s announcement stated that  “In a world now filled with smart phone map services, GPS devices in cars, and traffic apps, there is better, more up to date information available to our listeners than what we could provide.

“About 75 percent of WAMU’s morning audience listens from home. And everything we know about our listeners tells us that public radio audiences, in general, prefer content with context and a deeper understanding of their region, country, and world.”

Over the years Mr. Edwards improved the commute of millions of residents in the greater DC area.  Thank you!

Jan
4

New Passenger Focus at Reagan and Dulles Airports

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The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has initiated a concerted campaign to better understand and focus new programs on passenger satisfaction and needs.  In tandem with this new focus, MWAA is also re-branding the airports to reflect this new emphasis on passenger satisfaction.

According to an MWAA press release:

“During the past several years, the Airports Authority has undergone numerous changes to enhance the customer experience, including a major redevelopment of its food and retail concessions, additional parking options, online customer satisfaction surveys and new website. Now the Airports Authority is reinforcing these improvements with a new brand centered around a recommitment to its customers. The new tagline Your Journey Begins with Us recognizes that an enjoyable travel experience begins when a passenger arrives at the airport.

“This new logo incorporates every part of our organization into one symbol,” said Jack Potter, president and CEO. “The new brand embodies our choice to embrace change, to innovate and to lead. We want this logo to represent our resolve to serve the needs of the traveling public.”

The Airports Authority developed the new brand and customer focused initiative after considerable research “which included employee and passenger interviews, focus groups, competitive brand studies and data analysis of traveler habits across more than 15 U.S. and international airports. The comprehensive study has resulted in a deeper understanding of passengers and allows the Airports Authority to better target its services to meet their needs.”

Jan
4

Be One of the Best!

You bike to work almost every day, shower at the office and use the secure storage to keep your wheels safe until it’s time to call it a day.  When the weather’s bad, you ride the rails and save money with your transit benefits.  You work for a company that’s concerned about its employees and the environment – it’s one of the reasons you took this job – and you wish there was a way your employer could be recognized for promoting commuting choices.BWC Larger

Since 2010, fifty-seven businesses in Fairfax County – more than anywhere else in the country – have been designated “Best Workplaces for Commuters” by the National Center for Transit Research at the University of South Florida.  Best Workplaces for Commuters (BWC) is an innovative membership program that provides qualified employers with national recognition and an elite designation for implementing green commuter programs like ridesharing, transit benefits, biking and walking, teleworking and alternate work schedules.

Other advantages include: web conferences and training to help your company implement commuter benefits; research and benchmarking; web-based tools to help calculate the overall financial, environmental, and traffic improvements associated with commuter benefits; and networking opportunities with peers and experts in the field to exchange ideas and learn new strategies.

Next year, your progressive employer could be among those recently recognized at a special ceremony at the Fairfax County Government Center hosted by Fairfax County Department of Transportation Director Thomas Biesiadny.  Your Employer Outreach Specialist can provide technical assistance to help your organization meet Best Workplaces for Commuters’ National Standard of Excellence, assist in the completion of the application, and even underwrite the annual fee for employers that qualify.

“Promoting alternate ways to work, and policies such as teleworking and flex time, help make Fairfax County a better place to live and work by reducing congestion on our roadways,” commented Biesiadny in congratulating the ‘Fairfax First 50.’ We are pleased that Fairfax County is leading the nation in ‘Best Workplace’ designations and are committed to continuing to expand this program in years to come.”

This year, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also issued a proclamation in support of the “Fairfax First 50,” with special mention being given to the 2015 recipients:  Horizon Industries Limited, Prosperity Metro Plaza, FUTREND, U.S. Geological Survey, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., Freddie Mac, Synaptek Corporation, National Student Clearinghouse. FOX Architects LLC, and Pyramid Systems, Inc.

 

For more information on Best Workplaces for Commuters, visit www.bestworkplaces.org, call the Fairfax County Department of Transportation at 703.877.5600 or contact Ciara Williams:  703.877.5605, ciara.williams@fairfaxcounty.gov.

The Best Workplaces for Commuters program is available nationwide.  For information on how to participate in your jurisdiction, contact your Loudoun County Commuter Services Employer Outreach Specialist Judy Galen:  703.737.8044, judy.galen@loudoun.gov or visit (https://www.loudoun.gov/commute).  Your Prince William County Transportation Demand Management Specialist is Holly Morello:  703.580.6130, hmorello@omniride.com or visit (http://www.prtctransit.org).

Jan
4

Senate and House Agree on Transportation Funding

The U.S. House and Senate have announced an agreement on a 5-year roughly $300 billion surface transportation bill!  This is the first transportation agreement to come out of Congress in 10 years.  Below are some highlights of the aptly-named “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” or FAST Act:

Fully funds all public transportation programs for five years at growing levels;

Increases overall public transportation funding by 18 percent and dedicated funding for buses and bus facilities by 89 percent over the life of the bill;

Continues current formula funding and creates new, discretionary competitive grants under the bus and bus facilities program;

Provides funding stability for the Transit Cooperative Research Program;

Authorizes increased funding for Amtrak and competitive grants for intercity passenger rail; and

Provides funds for implementation of positive train control (PTC) systems on commuter railroads.

This is an important achievement for our transportation infrastructure, and represents a slight shift in federal priorities towards better funding transit and alternatives to single occupant vehicle oriented projects.

 

Jan
4

Train, Train, Take Me On Out of Here

Seems as if every time someone mentions train travel, and the ease of use it provides, Europe is brought up as the shining example of rail accessibility.  A recent study conducted by a Ph.D. student at the University of Vienna, Austria, illustrates just how accessible Western Europe really is.  Eastern Europe?  Not so much.

The data that Peter Kerpedjiev analyzed for 28 cities is quite telling how car independent a tourist or citizen travelling  in Western Europe can actually be.  Mr. Kerpedjiev’s table of train travel time distances from London illustrates that a person can reach almost all of Western European cities within 24 hours.

In the United States, the network of rail lines is far less extensive. However a resident, business travler, or tourist can reach many of the major eastern and western seaboard cities via train as well.  A quick review of Amtrak’s schedules for trains leaving Washington, D.C. indicates that a train traveller has a lot of options to reach some pretty far away destinations within a 24-hour timeframe.

With the opening of the Acela, D.C. train travelers can reach Boston, MA under 7 hours.  New York, NY under 4 hours.  Destinations along the eastern seaboard as far south as Tampa, FL can be reached within 24 hours, and with the Auto Train option, a traveler can even bring their car along for the ride.

If you are interested in more Western destinations, a D.C. train traveler can reach Pittsburgh, PA in 8 hours; Chicago under 18; Charlotte, NC in 8 hours and Atlanta in 14.  Closer cities such as Philadelphia, PA, Charleston, WV and Richmond, VA are all reachable under 2 hours.

Obviously European train travel is far more extensive, less expensive and allows travelers to cover greater distances in less time than that in the U.S.  But with that said, it is not impossible to reach many U.S. destinations via train should one choose to do so.  With the current state of our roadways, leaving the car behind can be a much more relaxing way to travel these days.