What happened at the April 20 TPB meeting



The Transportation Planning Board met on Wednesday, April 20, and took action on three items, including a proclamation of this year’s regional Bike to Work Day event and funding for several bicycle and pedestrian projects in Northern Virginia. The board also discussed an analysis of regional travel trends and the recent Metro Summit organized by COG and the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Actions taken by the TPB at its April 20 meeting:

  • Adopted the Bike to Work Day proclamation. The board officially proclaimed Friday, May 20, as Bike to Work Day in the Washington region. More than 18,000 people are expected to participate in the annual event aimed at promoting the viability of bicycle commuting. Learn more and see pictures from the proclamation-signing.
  • Approved funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects in Northern Virginia. The board approved 8 bicycle and pedestrian projects in Northern Virginia to receive $2.9 million in federal funding. The projects advance regional priorities like expanding travel options, connecting and strengthening Activity Centers, and serving disadvantaged groups. Learn more about the projects.
  • Amended the CLRP and TIP to reflect official Purple Line cost. Before construction can begin on the Purple Line, the TPB had to update the region’s long-range plan (the CLRP) and six-year spending plan (the TIP) to reflect the project’s official price tag. Several board and audience members applauded the board’s approval, which is one of the last key milestones before construction begins on the new light rail line later this year. Read the official MDOT request to update the CLRP and TIP.

Briefing on regional travel trends

Staff briefed the TPB on the latest regional trends in driving, transit ridership, bicycling, and more. One of the key takeaways from the most recent analysis was that a growing share of the region’s workers are teleworking, at least on an occasional basis. Staff pointed out that this increase in teleworking probably helped the region avoid a traffic nightmare on March 16, when the Metrorail system was shut down for an entire day for emergency inspections.

Get the full travel trends briefing presentation

TPB Chairman Tim Lovain pointed out that commuter rail ridership on the day of the shutdown was considerably lower than a normal weekday—a counterintuitive response to the shutdown, he said, until you consider the share of regular commuter rail riders who also telework at least occasionally. According to the staff briefing, nearly 7 in 10 do so, and many likely did on the day of the shutdown.

Shyam Kannan, who represents Metro on the TPB, noted differences the agency saw in how Metrorail riders responded to the shutdown. Bus ridership, he said, revealed a lot about where in the region commuters were still able to make it to work versus staying at home or driving:

DC’s Elissa Silverman also chimed in on the impacts of the shutdown and asked what the TPB’s role could be in planning for potential long-term shutdowns of the Metrorail system. “Not all of our workers are 9-to-5 federal workers,” she said. “So how would future shutdowns or reduced service impact those people? Is there some role the TPB could play?”

Listen to the discussion (beginning at 16:32):

Discussion of Metro funding and safety

The board’s interest in Metro didn’t stop with the discussion about the impacts of the March 16 shutdown. At the end of the meeting, COG Executive Director Chuck Bean recapped a recent COG-sponsored summit of area business, civic, and government leaders to identify what is needed to position Metro for success in the next 40 years.

Elissa Silverman again spoke up to ask whether the TPB will be taking a role in discussions about the long-term future of Metro, especially seeking a dedicated funding source, which Bean said was one of the key takeaways of the March 30 summit:

DC’s Phil Mendelson also chimed in, asking Bean about the progress in establishing a new tri-state safety oversight group known as the Metrorail Safety Commission. Mendelson urged COG to play an active role in bringing together the right legislative players from Maryland, Virginia, and the District to make the MSC a reality:

Listen to the full discussion (beginning at 7:20):

Other items of note

  • Ten projects across the region seeking federal TIGER and FASTLANE funding earned TPB endorsements. Read the TPB’s letters of support (starting on page 21).
  • During public comment, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Tom Calcagni expressed support for Maryland’s Purple Line and Stewart Schwartz, from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, reiterated the need for the region to focus on more efficient land-use and transit-oriented development. Listen to the comments.
  • Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) Chairman Douglas Stewart says the CAC is very interested in figuring out the role of public participation in the TPB’s upcoming long-range planning work. Listen to Stewart’s report.
  • The TPB’s Access for All Advisory (AFA) Committee, which is responsible for advising on transportation concerns of disadvantaged groups, is recruiting new members. Applications are due Friday, May 20.

Listen to audio from the April 20 TPB meeting

In honor of Bike Month, let's celebrate the region’s bike infrastructure
TPB proclaims May 20 as Bike to Work Day 2016