Mass transit in D.C. receives good marks in study

A report scores the D.C. area above the national average in access to mass transit. The D.C. metro area was ranked 17 out of 100 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas. The ranking included factors like coverage by mass transportation and how well people could reach their job sites using mass transit.

The study from the Brookings Institution shows 82 percent of people in the D.C. area have access to Metro buses and trains.

Despite the District’s good rating, getting to work via mass transit is a little more difficult for those commuters who live far out in the suburbs.

Keonia Lee lives in Lanham, Md., but works in Tysons Corner. She says she'd rather ride than drive even if it takes a hour and a half one way. “I’m a government worker so, it's convenient for some of us to have to standup for like 20-30 minute rides,” she said.

Research shows many of the new jobs in our region are in the suburbs, often in places that Metro is working to reach. With the silver line, rail to Dulles is under construction, Abhilass Banda is one commuter who anticipate the day when they can take a train instead of just a bus here.

“Rather than taking the bus this is very easy for me to travel,” via train, she said. In the D.C. area, 37 percent of jobs reachable via transit in 90 minutes, slightly above the national average of 30 percent, according to the study.

Sylvie Huffman and Sara Gohar live in Loudoun County and work in Herndon, areas not served by nearby mass transit. Driving is their only option.

“We technically stay on the road for almost an hour sometimes to get just 20 minutes away,” Huffman said.

“At one time, when I did go to George Mason I did take the buses but there were limited options,” Gohar added.

Gohar and Huffman are not alone: Mass transit across the nation doesn’t cover suburbs as well as it does cities, and it’s more prevalent in lower-income neighborhoods than middle or higher-income areas, the Brookings Institution writes.

The Brookings study was aimed to give policymakers and voters information about public transportation services. As budget cuts loom in many places, the study’s authors hope that this information will lead to more informed decisions about public transportation budgets.

“Transportation leaders should make access to jobs an explicit priority in their spending and service decisions, especially given the budget pressures they face,” the Brookings Institution writes on its website. They also say public transportation officials should ensure they reach people and jobs more efficiently.