Meeting with WMATA: Sharing experiences

In the context of the General Assembly held on January 12th 2017 in Washington DC, a team of researchers of the BRT Center from Santiago, Chile, led by the Professor Juan Carlos Muñoz, met with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). This meeting was scheduled with the objective of sharing international experiences and discussing different aspects of the transit systems of Washington and Santiago.

One of the topics that were discussed was the financial structure of each system. In Washington, the system is funded and operated by public companies, while Transantiago has public funding and private operators. This produces different conflicts regarding incentives generated by the contracts with the operators, such as fare evasion control or bus stop skipping behavior. Also, aspects such as the implementation of transit oriented infrastructure (e.g. bus lanes, bus streets and segregated bus corridors) and short-term, innovative and cost-effective measures implemented in Santiago, in order to improve the speed of buses, were discussed.

Our team showed a great interest in the buses’ standard, such as heating, higher amount of bus seats and integration with bicycles. These topics have been well-solved in the Washington transit system, and are issues considered in the current tendering process in Chile.

WMATA also showed significant interest in the methodology developed by the chilean team -presented in the TRBAnnual Meeting- where buses’ GPS signals are used in order to identify the worst operational bottlenecks of the city of Santiago. This methodology can be implemented in any city where buses are equipped with a GPS system, and allows the authorities to focus their efforts in solving problems with greater potential benefit.