Chapter 4, Part 1, ACCS Strategic Plan
This text-only version is offered as a more accessible alternative to this PDF document: Arlington County Commuter Services Transportation Demand Management Plan (PDF, 2.6 MB).
ORGANIZATIONAL AND OPERATIONAL REVIEW
This chapter encompasses a wider range of analyses to assess ACCS’ organizational and operational effectiveness. It includes a look at recent trends in the usage of services provided by ACCS, an overview and evaluation of technologies provided by ACCS, and a look at how technology has impacted the provision of TDM services. It also includes a stakeholder review of ACCS based on insight from representatives from area governmental and business entities who shared their perspectives on ACCS’ strengths as well as areas ripe for improvement. Finally, a review of five peer TDM programs presents a strong comparison point by which to review ACCS’ organizational structure; commuter, resident, and employer services; marketing efforts; performance measurement system; and regional role. This chapter concludes with a discussion of outreach conducted to assess Arlington County resident and ATP client input on ACCS programs and services.
RECENT CHANGES AND TRENDS
With a look at the period spanning Fiscal Years 2014 through 2016, this section profiles recent trends regarding usage of ACCS programs and services. Statistics are grouped into the following overarching categories:
- Arlington Transportation Partners;
- Capital Bikeshare;
- Commuter Stores and Information; and
- TDM for Site Plan Development.
Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP)
Table 8 summarizes ATP-related statistics from FY2014 to FY2016. Over this period, all figures listed have increased by the following approximate percentages:
- Employer Services members – 14 percent;
- Member employees – 10 percent;
- Residential members – 17 percent; and
- Residential units – 7 percent.
Table 8: Arlington Transportation Partners Statistics, FY2014-FY2016
|Year||Employer Services Members||Member Employees||Residential Members||Residential Units|
Marketing and Promotion
Table 9 summarizes statistics related to ACCS’ marketing efforts over the past three fiscal years. Arlington’s Car-Free Diet pledges peaked at 11,585 in FY2014, while Car-Free Diet retail partners, establishments that provide a transit map and a “take-one” box with local transit schedules and brochures, reached a high of 442 in FY2016. ACCS’ distribution of brochures -- which includes informational brochures and bus schedules delivered to corporate or retail clients and individuals -- reached 496,000 in 2014 but dropped by nearly 85,000 in FY2015. In FY2016, this figure rose to nearly 455,000.
Table 9: Marketing Statistics, FY2014-FY2016
|Year||Car-Free Diet Pledges||Car-Free Diet Retail Partners||Brochures Distributed*|
*Figures do not include direct mail pieces delivered by the ACCS Marketing Section or regular mailings to ATP clients.
ACCS manages Arlington’s portion of the Capital Bikeshare system. Table 10 provides an overview of system growth and usage over the FY2014-FY2016 period. Since Capital Bikeshare’s launch in 2010, the program has steadily gained popularity. The systematic expansion of Capital Bikeshare into new neighborhoods has resulted in increases in the total number of stations and bicycles available as well as in the number of trips originating in Arlington from FY2014 to FY2016.
Table 10: Capital Bikeshare Statistics, FY2014-FY2016
|Year||Capital Bikeshare Stations in Arlington||Capital Bikeshare Bicycles Available in Arlington||Capital Bikeshare Trips Originating in Arlington|
Commuter Stores and Information
Table 11 describes trends from FY2014 to FY2016 regarding the ACCS Commuter Store® and information provided to customers. ACCS has four “brick and mortar” stores and three mobile stores. Although the total number of store customers has risen steadily over the three-year period, total sales dropped slightly in FY2015 before rising in FY2016. The total number of Commuter Information Center calls followed a similar trend, rising greatly in FY2016 after a drop in FY2015. Finally, the percentage of fare media sales online has remained fairly steady since FY2014, hovering around 90 percent.
Table 11: Commuter Stores and Information Statistics, FY2014-FY2016
|Year||Commuter Stores® Total Customers||Commuter Stores® Total Sales||Commuter Information Center Calls||Percentage of all Fare Media Sales Online via CommuterDirect.com|
TDM for Site Plan Development
Table 12 shows TDM for Site Plan Development statistics from FY2014 through FY2016. The program has seen annual increases in the number of development sites that operate under TDM and bike parking requirements. This steady pace of development and commitment to these improvements results in increases in the number of sites that provide secure bike parking, as well as the number that provide shower and locker facilities for bike commuters. The number of bike parking spaces provided increased by nearly 83 percent during this timeframe, a result of new development as well as installation of missing bike parking at existing buildings, expansion of bike parking at existing buildings, and the improvement of official records. While the number of new TDM plans approved rose by three in FY2015, this number dropped to six in FY2016. The rate of Plan approvals typically mirrors the rate of new development project completions.
Table 12: TDM for Site Plan Development Statistics, FY2014-FY2016
|Year||Properties With TDM or Bike Parking Requirements||Properties With Secure Bike Parking||Properties with Showers, Lockers||Required Bike Parking Provided||New TDM Plans Approved|
OVERVIEW OF EXISTING TECHNOLOGIES
Websites and Social Media
ACCS employs and promotes a variety of technologies to provide TDM services. Each ACCS program has its own website, all of which link to all other ACCS initiatives – as well as related links such as Arlington Transit – via a link header labeled “ACCS Family of Sites.” ACCS pages, which can be accessed by computer, mobile phone, or tablet, include:
CommuterPage.com® is ACCS’ hallmark site and provides links to regional transportation agencies, information on walking and biking, the Commuter Store®, and ridesharing, vanpooling, and guaranteed ride home services in the area. On the site, ACCS displays information on local and national ridematching networks and databases, including Commuter Connections. CommuterPage.com also connects users to iRide, which provides transportation information specifically aimed at Arlington teens.
CommuterDirect.com® allows users to purchase transit tickets and passes online for home or office delivery. Users can also purchase tickets using SmartBenefits® as well as employer-sponsored debit cards.
Arlington’s Car-Free Diet (CarFreeDiet.com) is a website complete with a calculator that displays money saved, calories burned, and CO2 emissions decreased through reduced automobile travel. The site also contains a calendar of events and information on the County’s PAL (Predictable-Alert-Lawful) safety campaign. In addition, the “Urban Villages” section gives transit options, Retail Partner locations and information for each of Arlington’s unique Urban Villages.
WalkArlington.com and BikeArlington.com each provide valuable tools and resources for travelers on foot or bicycle in the region. Among other items, the sites collectively link to news and program events, Capital Bikeshare (which also has a website included among the ACCS family of sites), and information on the County’s PAL (Predictable-Alert-Lawful) roadway safety campaign.
ArlingtonTransportationPartners.com provides information on ATP programs, initiatives, services, resources, clients as well as timely newsletters and blogs.
MobilityLab.org provides links to research, articles, and events within Mobility Lab’s program.
ACCS also has a presence on social media through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Using ‘X’s’ to indicate the presence of an account, Table 13 shows which ACCS initiatives maintain each type of social media account.
Table 13: ACCS Social Media Accounts
|Arlington Transportation Partners||X||X||X||X|
|The Commuter Store®||X|
|Arlington's Car-Free Diet||X||X||X||X|
Evaluation of Emerging and Evolving Technologies
Evolving technologies have certainly altered the way TDM services are provided. By way of ACCS’ extensive network of websites and presence on social media, TDM service users have access to updated, instant information on a wide variety of programs. Interested users can now purchase fare media, gain access to ridesharing networks, obtain information on transit, walking or biking, and consume research on mobility trends in America at the touch of a button.
In recent years, ACCS has spearheaded the development of TDM technologies through public-private partnerships and Mobility Lab. In 2015, ACCS released the Car-Free Near Me and Car-Free A to Z tools, each of which has its own website (carfreenearme.com and carfreeAtoZ.com, respectively) that allows travelers to plug in a current location and subsequently view a scope of transit options available or plan a trip and get a choice of multi-modal options and routes. Interactive Car-Free Near Me kiosks are also available at The Commuter Store®.
Through the years, ACCS has adapted to changing technologies and the needs of its users, and should continue to do so going forward. This will allow the organization to best serve its customers as well as maintain financial stability.
ARLINGTON COUNTY LAND USE PLANNING
TDM services and land use are inherently connected, especially when considering transit-oriented development, parking requirements, and future transit investments. Following a brief discussion of Arlington County’s land use planning process, this section briefly covers existing and proposed land use plans in the County as they relate to TDM services.
Land Use Planning Structure in Arlington
Arlington’s basic land use planning strategy can be summarized as follows:
- One of ten elements of the County’s Comprehensive Plan, the General Land Use Plan (GLUP) provides both a high-level and detailed outlook for land use planning in Arlington. The GLUP is comprised of a booklet outlining plan elements and a large County map illustrating a full land use plan for the County. The most recent GLUP booklet contains amendments through June 2015.
- The Master Transportation Plan (MTP), fully adopted in 2011 (with specific elements of the plan adopted previously), contains goals, policies, and maps guided by six modal elements: bicycle, transportation demand and system management, parking and curb space management, pedestrian, streets, and transit.
- In addition to the GLUP and MTP, four additional plan types – each of which is created through a community process and ultimately approved and adopted by the County Board – exist in Arlington:
- Sector Plans regard the future of Metro Station Areas.
- Small Area Plans typically cover a smaller area than Sector Plans and may be located within or outside Metro Station Areas.
- Revitalization Plans provide recommendations for economic and incentive tools for locations in need of redevelopment.
- Neighborhood Conservation Plans pertain to specific neighborhood visions and improvements.
In addition, the County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development is consistently engaged in various planning studies. Arlington is also currently in the process of preparing a major six-year update to its Transit Development Plan, a 10-year plan for bus service in the County that will link TDM elements and transit.
TDM-Related Land Use Plans
This section reviews each of the land use planning elements described above and how each addresses existing and future TDM-related plans.
General Land Use Plan (GLUP)
Arlington’s GLUP establishes the character, extent, and location of various land uses, seeking to balance residential (including a range of housing types), commercial, office, and mixed-use development while focusing development around Metrorail stations and corridors. Arlington County has three major planning corridors: Rosslyn-Ballston Metro, Jefferson Davis Metro, and Columbia Pike. The GLUP’s five Development and Growth Goals keep with Arlington’s tradition of sustainable, transit-oriented development, and include references to:
- High-density residential, commercial, and office development around specific Metrorail corridors;
- The promotion of mixed-use development in Metro Station Areas; and
- The encouragement of a variety of housing types at and around Metro Station Areas.
Arlington’s existing land use includes a fairly diverse range of uses with higher density largely concentrated around Metrorail stations. The GLUP also includes provisions for specific mixed-use areas. Lower density residential permeates the County’s outlying areas. The GLUP includes recommendations for myriad planning districts, redevelopment districts, and small areas. Specific, TDM-related recommendations include:
- The continued development of “Special Coordinated Mixed Use Districts” (a designation established for larger sites where redevelopment may result in significant changes within a Metro Station Area) in areas such as Clarendon, Virginia Square, Ballston, and Crystal City. Plans for redevelopment sites incorporate connections to bus and rail transit;
- A variety of Special Planning Resolutions and Policies and Special Planning Programs, including a Commercial Revitalization Program that will offer targeted commercial revitalization throughout the County; and
- Continued coordination with the County’s Capital Improvement Plan, Arlington’s primary planning document for capital projects, including transportation capital projects.
Master Transportation Plan (MTP)
With an outlook to 2030, the County MTP contains six modal elements, each with its own set of recommendations. The plan’s overall goals include mentions of high quality transportation services, reduced congestion, transportation equity, and advanced environmental sustainability. Across the plan, recommendations linking TDM and land use elements include:
- An extensive new bicycle on-road and trail network, including new planned bikeways along major corridors such as Washington Boulevard and Harrison Street and new bike lanes along Columbia Pike, Route 50 and Route 29;
- Planned rail system and station enhancements to improve the riding experience for current and future passengers; and
- Provision for a variety of TDM strategies at facilities to enhance an existing, strong TDM for site plans program, including:
- Transportation kiosks at major development sites;
- Secure bicycle storage facilities (and potentially shower facilities) in locations convenient to office, commercial or residential areas;
- At least 10 percent of parking capacity provided for vans and/or vanpool drivers;
- On-street and off-street parking availability for carsharing services; and
- A coordinated parking management strategy that includes charging a market rate to single occupancy vehicle drivers.
Sector, Small Area, Revitalization, and Neighborhood Plans
To date, Arlington has produced many Sector, Small Area, Revitalization, and Neighborhood Plans. Currently, five planning and two zoning studies are in progress, including plans for Courthouse Square, Rosslyn, Shirlington, Columbia Pike, and Crystal City. TDM specific elements within ongoing plans include:
- A new parking program in Courthouse Square that will include considerations of future supply and demand for spaces;
- Exploration of a centralized bicycle facility in Rosslyn; and
- Complete Streets and improved bicycle and pedestrian accessibility in Shirlington.
REVIEW OF REGIONAL STAKEHOLDERS
A stakeholder review process obtained valuable feedback on ACCS’ services and its relationship with and level of support in the local community. This review was conducted through interviews with six regional stakeholders who each interact with ACCS in different ways – as Arlington County government partners, clients, or external partner agencies. Interviews were conduct by phone and lasted approximately 25 minutes. Table 14 lists each stakeholder interviewed, their title, agency, and relationship to ACCS, and the date on which the stakeholder was interviewed.
Table 14: Stakeholder Review Interview List
|Arlington Transportation Division||ACCS is a bureau within Arlington’s Transportation Division, which operates under the Department of Environmental Services (DES).||November 19, 2015|
|Arlington Economic Development (AED)||AED is dedicated to promoting sustainable, amenity-rich economic development in Arlington. AED works with ACCS on travel options for existing or newly relocated businesses.||October 21, 2015|
|Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC)||NVTC brings Northern Virginia jurisdictions and agencies together to plan, coordinate, and secure funding for transit systems.||October 22, 2015|
Associate Director, Policy, Planning & Sustainability
|District Department of Transportation (DDOT)||DDOT is the transportation department of the Washington, DC government. DC’s TDM program, goDCgo, operates under the Policy, Planning & Sustainability Administration.||October 22, 2015|
Director of Infrastructure & Sustainability
|DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID)||The DowntownDC BID manages DC Surface Transit, Inc. (DCST), a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring the success of the DC Circulator. DCST works collaboratively with goDCgo, a DDOT resource for travel options and information. goDCgo collaborates with ATP.||October 9, 2015|
|Blanca Gonzalez Karim
Manager, Employee Benefits
|Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)||PBS maintains a location in the Crystal City neighborhood. The television station is an active ATP client.||October 8, 2015|
Core Program Strengths
Interviewees were asked to describe the core strengths of the ACCS program and organizational structure from their perspective. Select responses are summarized below:
- ACCS has done a tremendous job opening its constituents’ eyes to local walking and biking opportunities. Although many in the metropolitan area are familiar with rail and bus transportation, fewer are generally aware of Arlington’s copious active transportation network.
- ATP’s program has remained effective, even during periods of transition in Arlington. Additionally, the integrated structure of overall transportation efforts in Arlington is something that ACCS uses to its advantage.
- ACCS has an excellent ability to coordinate with DDOT staff and share valuable knowledge on TDM concepts and strategies. Regional jurisdictions can stand to benefit from Arlington’s status as a TDM role model.
Services Useful to Different Interest Groups
Stakeholders weighed in on which services were most useful to residents and commuters, employers, and the stakeholder interviewee organizations themselves. Responses are summarized in Table 15.
Table 15: Stakeholder Opinions on Most Useful ACCS Services
|Population or Organization Type Served||Most Useful ACCS Services|
|Residents and Commuters||
Regarding services for Arlington residents, stakeholders praised ACCS’ work with Capital Bikeshare as well as services provided through BikeArlington and WalkArlington. Additionally, ATP’s programs for multifamily housing developers and property managers received high marks.
For commuters, stakeholders lauded ATP’s facilitation of and education on transportation benefit programs. The Commuter Store®, along with BikeArlington and WalkArlington’s promotion and support of active transportation, also gained acclaim.
|Employers||When prompted to explain which services were most beneficial to Arlington’s employers, stakeholders generally approved highly of ATP’s programming, particularly its capacity to monitor building performance over time with respect to property TDM plans and maintain regular contact and relationships with building owners. Stakeholders also praised direct outreach on non-SOV transportation provided to employers, which helps employers to understand how commuter benefits can be extended to employees as part of recruitment packages.|
|Stakeholder Interviewee Organizations||
Responses to the question of how stakeholder organizations themselves benefit from ACCS are summarized below:
Gaps in Services / New Program Suggestions
Although the majority of the feedback from stakeholders was positive, to begin the conversation of how ACCS could improve, participants offered input regarding gaps in currently delivered ACCS services. Specific feedback provided is summarized below.
To begin, as one stakeholder suggested, rather than view any shortcomings as identifiable “gaps,” ACCS should instead seek to prioritize certain opportunities in the region, including:
- Recognizing the myriad links between a community’s transportation system and its economy, ACCS can be more integrated with Arlington Economic Development (AED) in its regular activities.
- Bearing in mind that commuters do not respect political boundaries, ACCS can take a more regional approach, serving commuters and employers at origins and destinations within “outside” locations such as Fairfax County. For example, TDM could play integral role in building ridership on the relatively new Metrorail Silver Line, which runs through the Tysons Corner employment center. ACCS should also continue to work closely with planned initiatives for Interstate 66 in order to maximize TDM success along the corridor.
- Through continued education, outreach, and TDM programming, ACCS can seek to better serve a larger demographic market, including locations of Arlington County with limited or no transit available. For instance, given that millennials or those living in close proximity to transit stations are more likely to utilize alternative travel methods in any event, ACCS could target market specifically to families or those living in single-family homes in order to increase its base and further reduce single occupancy vehicle usage.
Moreover, technological innovations such as carsharing applications and on-demand taxi and shuttle services have become quite popular in recent years and have fueled prevailing shifts in mobility habits and preferences. Although the methods for doing so may not be entirely clear, ACCS may want to consider integrating such technologies into its overall program, perhaps via an “on-demand travel” initiative. Depending on the circumstance, a partnership with a company providing on-demand services might be crucial to spurring such a program.
Another stakeholder expanded on this notion, stating that the emergence of private sector transportation apps such as Uber, Lyft, Bridj, and Carma should encourage ACCS to continue to examine how mobility technology will fit into the organization overall business model and future. While the answers to these questions may not be one-dimensional or simple, it is important that they be considered. Having already begun to explore these concepts, ACCS should continue to investigate opportunities in this arena.
ACCS should also continue promotion of non-automobile transportation (especially Capital Bikeshare) for visitors and tourists (perhaps through concierge desks at hotels). In the past, ATP has coordinated with hotels to promote Capital Bikeshare and has provided free ride passes. Additionally, in order to improve knowledge of how to live in Arlington without a car, ACCS could increase its promotion of the Car2Go point-to-point carsharing service as a truly viable option.
Shifting to an administrative view of ACCS, as one stakeholder explained, although having a greater number of consultants than County employees on staff has its advantages, this scenario does bring its challenges. For example, as one stakeholder noted, there are sometimes fewer County staff available to perform various oversight, budgeting, and contracting functions that contractors cannot complete. Finally, ACCS and stakeholder organizations should continue to work toward better coordination in planning and mutual funding opportunities.
Stakeholders were asked to explain any potential partnerships that ACCS could explore in order to enhance its overall program. Partnerships are summarized by type and sector in Table 16. Particularly noteworthy suggestions include:
- ACCS should explore partnerships with area transit agencies in order to give transit providers a more regional outlook and scope.
- While ACCS could partner with a carsharing service, any TDM agency doing so should be fairly neutral about which service is chosen so as not to alienate other companies. Under this type of partnership, ACCS would primarily be an aggregator of information rather than an exclusive partner.
- ACCS and DDOT could partner on research initiatives, including one to study parking standards in urban contexts and another to investigate the effect of bulk transit passes on ridership and revenue.
- ACCS should consider partnering with WMATA to redesign its fare system to address declining ridership. For example, Metro could offer exclusive passes (for approximately ten round trips) with free transfers, thus incentivizing non-SOV transportation and thereby promoting TDM. Mobility Lab might want to consider researching this topic.
Table 16: Potential ACCS Partnerships as Suggested by Regional Stakeholders
|Partner Type||Potential Partnerships|
|Local and Regional Government||
|Transit Agencies, BIDs, and Local Area Organizations||
Other Suggestions or Advice
Additional stakeholder suggestions or advice for ACCS that did not fit specifically into any of the above mentioned categories included:
- Although ACCS’ main focus is TDM, transit could be integrated better into its overall program. In other words, transit and TDM should be “two sides of the same coin.”
- ACCS should evaluate its strategy of programmatic growth as it pertains to future funding sources. What if future funding sources are not readily available to support this growth? ACCS should take a look at its highest yield investments when considering future funding. Additionally, ACCS should strategize on how to diversify its future funding base. The TDM program is currently one of the largest in the region and in the country, and ACCS needs to work together to determine how such a large initiative can be sustained going forward.
This text-only version is offered as a more accessible alternative to this PDF document: Arlington County Commuter Services Transportation Demand Management Plan (PDF, 2.6 MB).