Momentum Forums

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Planning & Growth
Washington DC; Maryland; Viriginia
December 2012

In the Washington, DC region, public transportation is particularly important and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is under pressure to find solutions to problems that threaten the quality of both Metrorail and Metrobus service. In particular, WMATA must find ways to meet the needs of a rapidly growing region that will add more than a million new residents over the next twenty years. In order to assist their planning efforts, WMATA turned to AmericaSpeaks to organize and conduct forums to get citizen input about what they should be doing to prepare for the future.

In order to get WMATA the information they needed from area residents, AmericaSpeaks conducted a series of four forums during December 2012. The first three forums brought together a total of 100 residents who were demographically representative of the WMATA service area—the city of Washington, DC as well as several counties in northern Virginia and suburban Maryland. Participants almost exactly matched the local demographics in terms of age, race, gender, income, and geographic location. After those three forums, AmericaSpeaks conducted a special forum for 33 members of the region’s fast growing Latino population. That forum was conducted in Spanish and provided an opportunity for residents whose voices are sometimes ignored to share their insights about what is important for the future of Metrobus and Metrorail service.

Each of these small forums utilized the elements that are a standard part of AmericaSpeaks’ 21st Century Town Meeting model—facilitated small group discussions, computers at tables to collect insights from participants, a theme team to identify the most common ideas expressed and keypad polling to identify priorities. As a result of the four forums, a tremendous amount of information was gathered that can be used to develop important recommendations about the future of public transportation in our Nation’s Capital and the surrounding areas.

Read the WMATA Draft Strategic Plan here.