The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the Greater Washington Board of Trade announced a strategic partnership to enable digital infrastructure and deploy smart technologies for the purpose of improving livability and driving inclusive economic growth.
The announcement marks a significant milestone for the Greater Washington Smart Region Movement with WMATA joining the Board of Trade, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area to collaborate on creating the nation’s leading digitally enabled region.
WMATA and the Board of Trade have signed an agreement whereby they will work together to help move critical digital projects forward in the region. The framework being developed contemplates legal, policy and regulatory elements; recognizes and augments projects currently underway; develops public awareness campaigns; and addresses other activities as defined by the Greater Washington Smart Region Movement.
Technology investments are already improving the experience on Metrorail by enabling riders to stay connected in stations, on trains, and in many tunnels. Wireless data and cellular service is now available in more than 62% of tunnel segments, and free public Wi-Fi is available at all underground stations with plans to cover all aboveground stations by the end of the year.
WMATA is also installing transponders on every Metrobus to communicate with smart traffic signals that detect approaching transit vehicles and stay green longer. In addition, the agency has 15 bus routes in the District of Columbia that are expected to benefit from new “bus only” signals that give buses a green light ahead of other vehicles, improving safety and trip speed. These investments are establishing a foundation that encourages jurisdictions to expand smart transit solutions across the region, reduce travel times, and improve customer service.
As WMATA looks to the future, it is embracing technology, data, and business intelligence to inform service decisions, make its faregates mobile ready, provide riders with real-time bus and train predictions, and enable the development of many third-party applications. Internally, technology-driven solutions are advancing WMATA’s business and operations, creating a more efficient transit authority with more accurate financial analysis and oversight, performance measures, and supply-chain management that reduces inventory and delivery times, according to the agency. Advanced data analytics also enable WMATA to improve service and operations by integrating various real-time data points to evaluate travel patterns, pinpoint crowding, and understand ridership trends.
The Board of Trade and its partners are now engaged in a comprehensive planning process over the next several months. Through this process, they are working with local jurisdictions and organizations to define the operations and governance structure needed to prioritize digital infrastructure and application projects, secure funding, attract investors and suppliers, and improve outcomes for citizens and visitors. These efforts will enable digital infrastructure and the deployment of smart technologies to drive inclusive economic growth; attract companies, talent, and investment to help diversify the economy; and improve daily life.