Last week, I found that the Walk Score for Washington’s Metro station areas to the was lower than most other heavy rail systems in the United States. But what if we just look at stations in DC, or Arlington? How walkable are the Montgomery, or Prince George’s, or Fairfax stations on their own?
The regional average of Metro’s 86 stations is 72.1. As one would expect, the District of Columbia is the top-scoring jurisdiction, with an average of 81.6. The remainder of the “diamond,” Arlington and Alexandria, is a clear second place. Montgomery is in the middle, with Fairfax and Prince George’s trailing well behind.
A few Metro stations are right on the borders of jurisdictions: Friendship Heights between DC and Montgomery, and Capitol Heights and Southern Avenue between DC and Prince George’s. This analysis counts each toward the score of both jurisdictions.
Nationally, the District and Arlington/Alexandria score favorably. The DC Metro stations by themselves fall just behind Chicago and Boston.
Unfortunately, Fairfax and Prince George’s fall to the bottom of the pile. Fairfax’s low score is somewhat understandable since it has only 5 stations, most of which serve mainly as park and rides.
But Prince George’s has 15 stations, more than any other jurisdiction aside from the District. The county is at a disadvantage because of the placement of many stations. But even so, Prince George’s has not committed to transit-oriented development around its stations. It also has a history of allowing development on the fringes of the county to short-circuit demand for offices and retail near Metro.
Fairfax, on the other hand, is working to reinvent Tysons Corner as a walkable urban place around 4 new Metro stops. Interestingly, adding the 5 stops on the Silver Line already under construction would raise Fairfax’s average to 61.8.
While Walk Score is not a perfect measure of walkability, the fact that Tysons already has some pretty good scores bodes well for efforts to transform the employment center into a bona fide urban center.