Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Komoroske's Law (or Train Truth Revisited)

If you, like the Growler, took an economics course in college you might remember something called Gresham's Law, which states that bad money drives good money out of circulation.

In Alexandria we're seeing our own variant of this principle: inaccurate or misleading information drives the truth out of circulation.

We shall dub this local version Komoroske's Law, in honor of the Planning Commissioner who seems most bent on perpetuating the myth that the Braddock Road Metro station is one of the least used in the entire Metrorail system. This myth is apparently being used to justify massive development.

The Growler thought this issue had been laid to rest months ago when the Curmudgeon posted a story with 2001 and 2005 data to demonstrate that Braddock Road is the second highest-used station in Alexandria after King Street.

Unfortunately, at last week's small area plan meeting we heard the same statement that Braddock Road is one of the least used Metro stations in the system from none other than Faroll Hamer, Alexandria's new Planning & Zoning Director.

So the Growler wants to put this issue to rest once and for all. This time the Cranky One is armed with fresh 2006-2007 data straight from the horse's mouth: transit analyst Robert Stedman, the keeper of All Things Statistical for WMATA.

After analysis of the data, it appears that once again, Braddock Road is NOT the least used of the four Alexandria Metrorail stations. It still ranks as the second-highest utilized station in the City after King Street. Here's the entry numbers for May 2007:

King Street:

9,084 weekday entries
4,063 weekend entries

May 2007 total: 13,147 entries

Braddock Road

4,327 weekday entries
1,674 weekend entries

May 2007 total: 6,001 entries

Van Dorn Street

3,825 weekday entries
1,725 weekend entries

May 2007 total: 5,550 entries

Eisenhower Avenue

2,037 weekday entries
1,032 weekend entries

May 2007 total: 3,069 entries

Exit data (which are not considered as meaningful to WMATA) showed the same relative ranking.

Even more revealing is the entry data across all 86 Metro stations. This information is not published on Metro's Web site for security reasons; obviously WMATA doesn't need terrorists knowing the busiest stations. But the Growler had access to the raw data and crunched six months' worth of stats from November 2006 to April 2007.

And here's the kicker: based on system entry numbers, Braddock Road consistently, month to month, has more entry traffic than the Clarendon and Virginia Square stations on Arlington's vaunted Orange Line.

Braddock also has more entry traffic than another Orange Line station, East Falls Church. In fact, Braddock usually jostles Rockville, U Street and College Park-U Maryland in the rankings.

It's the Eisenhower Avenue station, which has half the traffic of Braddock Road, that appears again and again in the bottom five stations ranked by entry data. It's down there keeping company with Cheverly, Deanwood, Capitol Heights, and Morgan Boulevard.

None of the Alexandria stations are in the top quartile of stations ranked by entry. King Street usually places around 27th. The remainder of Alexandria stations are in the bottom third. Nevertheless, Braddock is at the top of that bottom third.

But if remediation is needed, let the City tend to Eisenhower Avenue first, as well as Van Dorn (which has been surrounded by lower-density townhouse development at Summer's Grove and Cameron Station in recent years).

Remember also that Braddock Road's figures could undoubtedly be higher, particularly at night, if public housing was not in such immediate proximity.

Though Mr. Stedman observed to the Growler that he mails the data on Virginia stations every month to local officials, the Growler will be a good sport and E-mail a copy of the information today to Ms. Hamer at City Hall.

And hopefully this is the last we'll hear of this mis-information.