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Loudoun County Comprehensive Operations Analysis

In 2023, Loudoun County’s Transit and Commuter Services division was merged with the county’s Department of General Services. This transition offered county officials the opportunity to take a fresh look at the performance of the county’s public transportation program given the recent challenges many transit providers had encountered with COVID-19.

SRF was recommended to the county by current clients to assist with the completion of a comprehensive operations analysis (COA) and investigation into specific operations and service delivery topics, including fare-free transit operations, microtransit, and asset management. The COA conducted a detailed analysis of current operations, identified the market for transit service in the county, and made recommendations on service delivery approaches to improve operating efficiencies, enhance the customer experience, and better match resources with needs.

Along the way, SRF created user-friendly interactive dashboards that have allowed Loudoun County Transit (LCT) staff to look more closely and specifically at operating data and aspects of their service they were not able to see previously. Subsequently, Loudoun County retained SRF a second time to conduct further system and service analysis as part of a route optimization study (2024).

A growing and thriving county comprised of rapidly urbanizing municipalities and pastoral farmlands, Loudoun County is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s fastest growing county, adding new residents, businesses, and urban development’s almost daily. The rapid rate of growth over the past decade-plus has caused population and demographic shifts that have changed how residents and visitors experience Loudoun County and interact with its public systems and services. Compounding these challenges are the rates of growth in nearby Maryland (Montgomery County) and West Virginia (Jefferson County), to the north and west of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.

But beyond the internal administrative transition, several influencing factors – and a global health crisis – contributed to the need for the COA and subsequent route optimization study. Despite Loudoun County’s dramatic growth and physical development since 2010, LCT services were predominantly focused on commuter-based travel patterns. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic quickly changed suburban travel behaviors. As was the case for many transit agencies across the country, LCT experienced a substantial decline in commuter-based transit ridership – and the effects of this shift are still felt with ridership continuing to rebound to pre-pandemic levels.

A second critical factor was the long-awaited introduction of the Metro Silver Line rail service and stations in late 2022. The introduction of Metro service resulted in a shift toward local fixed-route services to connect residents and visitors with destinations in Loudoun County and with Metro stations. Collectively, these recent changes and challenges contributed to the need for a re-imagining and re-prioritizing of LCT network services, facility investments, and passenger experience to better serve Loudoun County’s local communities.

More than ever, Loudoun County needs and deserves a public transportation system that rises to the transportation challenges the county faces, but that can also help Loudoun County address other county development goals and objectives. To help chart a course forward, Loudoun County turned to SRF.

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