Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Feb
24

An Innovative Approach to Learning How to Use Transit in Fairfax

What many may assume is the smallest hurdle that a resident or commuter must jump to use mass transit is often the most intimidating reason why people don’t use the region’s bus and METROrail systems. That hurdle is the sometimes daunting factor of how to physically use the payment systems, understand the schedules, and navigate between the systems.   This intimidating factor is so great, that some residents/commuters don’t even try transit.

Unfortunately, for our growing elderly populations and some underserved residents, the choice not to use transit is very isolating because they have no other transportation options.

The Fairfax County Department of Trans-portation, in conjunction with the Fairfax Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, has developed an orientation program that uses a technologically innovative Connector bus to provide hands-on experience and information on how to use the region’s mass transit system.  The bus, called MATT (Mobile Accessible Travel Training), has been renovated and designed for training senior citizens to travel safely and independently on regional transit systems.

According to the Fairfax County website, “County staff will coordinate ‘travel training’ trips in which seniors will travel by bus and rail transit to and from a destination of their choice. The travelers-in-training will identify a bus stop near their residence, learn to read bus schedules and route maps, learn how to pay the fare and how to signal the driver to stop, as well as other bus travel skills. The bus will deliver seniors to a Metrorail station where they will learn how to determine the fare and purchase Metrorail fare cards, load SmarTrip cards, read the system map, and board the trains to travel by rail.”

The MATT bus is a traveling classroom that is handicap and hearing impaired accessible and features “a special area in the rear for classroom-like instruction. The classroom area includes audio and video components that can play VCR tapes, DVDs and computer-driven programs that will be shown on three LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) television screens, two of which are mounted on the ceiling of the bus.”

Through the efforts of Supervisor Hudgins and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, the bus was put into service in 2004.  In the future, DATA intends to more closely coordinate some of its outreach activities with the MATT bus and the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services.  Stay tuned for more information on these endeavors.

Feb
24

Bikeshare is Coming to Reston and Tysons

On January 12th, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized expenditures of $1.6 million for the purchase of bikeshare equipment and implementation of the bikeshare program in Reston and Tysons.  Bikeshare stations are projected to open in the fall of 2016.

Photo courtesy of Sam Kittner, Capital Bikeshare.

Photo courtesy of Sam Kittner, Capital Bikeshare.

Bikeshare is a transportation system that allows individuals to check out a bike and ride short to moderate distances from station to station. A system of bikeshare stations and bicycles are set up in an area to allow participants to travel between destinations that are generally further than walking, without driving. As a result, roadway congestion is reduced.

In the Washington D.C. area, Capital Bikeshare is the existing bikeshare system that operates in Washington D.C., Arlington County, Alexandria, and Montgomery County. There are currently over 370 stations in the Capital Bikeshare system in these jurisdictions.

In 2014, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) awarded Fairfax County a Transportation and Land Use Connection grant to study the feasibility of launching a bikeshare system. The results of the study showed that bikeshare could succeed as a viable transportation option in Reston.

The Reston Bikeshare system will consist of 15 stations and 132 bicycles located between the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station and Reston Town Center area. Reston Bikeshare received grant funding from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

The Tysons Bikeshare system will consist of 11 stations and 80 bicycles located in Tysons to the east of Route 7, north of Route 123, and south of the Dulles Toll Road.  Tysons Partnership is providing a financial contribution of $110,000 towards capital cost of the Tysons system.

The two Fairfax bikeshare initiatives should be fully operational by the Fall of 2016.  For more information on Capital Bikeshare and how to become a member and/or how to use bikeshare, go to www.capitalbikeshare.com.

 

Feb
24

From the CEO’s Desk

Isn’t Earth Day everyday?  Think about it, without the “mothership” what exactly would we be celebrating–moon day?  Ok, a little tongue-in-cheek motivation for everyone to really think about your personal impact on “mother earth,” every day, not just once a year.

@livemore and the Dulles Area Transportation Association attempt to bring this focus to your everyday lives by educating you on the choices you have that can really make a difference not only in your quality of life, but also on the sustainability of our world habitat.

In this edition of  @livemore, we highlight a number of festivals that are being held in correspondence to the area’s recognition of Earth Day, as well as the fledgling emergence of spring.  We are also highlighting Historic Garden Week – one of the most popular and attended occasions in Virginia; learning more about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks; and thinking about where to find your local farmers markets this spring. We are also providing you with some important information on changes that have been recently instituted by VDOT in how they rank and prioritize road construction and improvement projects.

As we all “emerge” from our Snowzilla/winter cocoons, there are many things we can do to prepare for spring and summer – we hope this edition gives you some “food” for thought, and provides some impetus for you to give Mother Earth a hug on her special day (which is everyday) by making one simple change in your life, once a week, that helps our environment.  Take transit, carpool, telework, recycle more, plant a tree, etc.  By doing so, we hope your actions also help you livemore and commute less!

As Always-Best Regards,

James N. Larsen
Executive Director/CEO
Dulles Area Transportation Association

Jan
4

Finding a Commute that Works Out

Donning your shiny new gym membership card and that pedometer bracelet your brother-in-law gave you for the holidays, it should be easier than ever to get the exercise you need. So why does it seem to get more difficult to squeeze in a workout each year?

What if I told you that you could get your exercise while you commute to work? Is that a novel idea or what? Well, not exactly. People all over the DC metro area already bike or walk to work every day. By incorporating your workout into your commute, you can eliminate, or at least reduce, the need to block off even more time to get your exercise. This extra time creates the perfect opportunity for a family dinner, watching a movie, or playing fetch with the dog; something you actually enjoy doing!

If you happen to live too far from work to walk or aren’t comfortable riding your bike long distances, you can always ride or walk the “last mile” to the metro or bus stop and do the reverse on the way home. That way you can still get your heart pumping before your workday is over.

Give it a try sometime. Let me know how it goes.

 Ericka can be reached at eamador@datatrans.org.

 

Ejercicio que Trabaja

Vestido con su nueva tarjeta de membresía de gimnasio y la pulsera de podómetro quien le dio su cuñado para Navidad, debería ser más fácil que nunca para hacer el ejercicio que necesita. Entonces, ¿por qué parece ser más difícil tener el tiempo para hacer ejercicio cada año?

¿Que si le dijera que usted podría conseguir su ejercicio mientras que usted conmuta al trabajo? ¿Es idea novedosa o qué? Bueno, no exactamente. Gente de todo el área metropolitana de DC ya anda en bicicleta o camina al trabajo todos los días. Por incorporar su entrenamiento con su viaje, puede eliminar, o al menos reducir, la necesidad de bloquear aún más tiempo para hacer ejercicio. Este tiempo extra crea la oportunidad perfecta para cenar con la familia, ver una película o jugar con el perro, algo que realmente gusta hacer!

Si usted vive demasiado lejos del trabajo para caminar o no se siente cómodo andar en bicicleta largas distancias, siempre se puede montar o caminar por la “última milla” para el metro o la parada del autobús y hacer lo contrario de camino a casa. De esa manera usted todavía puede obtener su bombeo del corazón antes de terminar su día de trabajo.

Atreverse a intentarlo. Déjeme saber cómo le va.

Ericka se puede llegar a eamador@datatrans.org.

 

Jan
4

SchoolPools: Mornings made easy!

Walked dog. Made hot breakfast. Showered. Packed nutritious lunch for you and your child. Out the door with child, school bag (including said lunch), field trip permission slip….all before 8:00 a.m.…you’re killing it! Spend 20 minutes in unplanned traffic to school and 10 minutes in the school’s kiss and ride drop-off. Arrive at work 25 minutes late and frazzled – you also forgot your phone. Definitely not killing it.

If you are a parent who sends your child to a school without a busing program, you can probably relate to this scenario.  While the ride to and from school can be a wonderful time to connect with your child, providing transportation every day can be stressful.  Additionally, the time spent in the car could be spent working, freeing up time to spend with your child at home, in the park, etc.  So what is a parent to do?

(Da-da-da-DA!) In response to this common issue facing D.C. metro-area parents, Commuter Connections launched a program called SchoolPools, which allows parents within a school to connect with one another and form their own carpools, walking groups or biking groups. The idea is that families who unknowingly live near one another could be sharing a ride to school – saving both time and money.  Not only is a carpool convenient, it provides parents and kids an opportunity to meet one another – helping to build a closer sense of community.

The SchoolPools database is completely confidential – only basic contact information, such as your phone number and e-mail are shared with potential matches. Schools must be registered with the Commuter Connections SchoolPool program to participate, so check with your school’s principal or transportation coordinator to see if your school is taking advantage of this program.

For more information on SchoolPools and how to get your school registered, please visit: https://tdm.commuterconnections.org/schoolpool/, or email Sarah McGowan at smcgowan@datatrans.org.