Managing demand on Metrorail
Officials who worry about traffic congestion in the D.C. region now talk more about managing demand than about building new roads. Metro officials are developing a similar theme when they talk about the future of our transit system. In each case, the planners' premise is that we're running out of room, and it's really expensive to build new stuff.
An emerging issue for both planners and transit riders is the question of where to send the Metro trains along the tracks we have now.
On Wednesday night, the Riders' Advisory Council listened to Metro's Jim Hughes explain the plan to create new versions of some Blue and Orange Line trains -- maybe with different colors or different destination signs -- to adjust to changes in transit demand
Metro no longer builds new rail lines. It has to adjust to the new line toward Dulles that Virginia is building and it has to adjust to where the riders want to go, which is increasingly toward the eastern side of downtown Washington. Hence, the proposal to divert some rush-hour Blue Line trains away from the jammed tunnel at Rosslyn and instead send them over the Potomac River bridge into L'Enfant Plaza Station, then on up to Greenbelt.
Some Blue Line riders who travel from Franconia-Springfield or Crystal City to Rosslyn or Foggy Bottom would be less likely to get a one-train ride, but according to Metro's calculations, there are many more gainers. They include people from those same areas who exit at L'Enfant Plaza or Gallery Place or many other stations on all the lines that stop on the eastern side of downtown. See a map.
Additions and subtractions
These are some of the points that Hughes, Metro's director of intermodal planning, made in an important discussion that will continue for months till the Metro board adopts a final plan.
-- The plan helps many more Blue Line riders than it hurts, and it also does good things for rush hour riders along the Orange, Green and Yellow lines by adding trains.
-- The additional service for Orange Line riders would come in the form of three new trains originating at West Falls Church, serving riders on what is Metro's most crowded route during the morning rush.
-- While this plan is usually described in terms of what it does for riders from Virginia, it also provides more rush hour trains for Marylanders who now take the Green Line from Greenbelt or transfer from the Red Line at Fort Totten.
-- Three Blue Line trains per peak hour would be diverted from the Rosslyn tunnel, but it's difficult to calculate whether the train you're riding now would be one of those. The trains are not evenly spaced during the peak hours, because they need to merge onto the same Potomac bridge that Yellow Line trains are using.
-- Within the District, rush-hour service is either the same or more frequent under this plan. The gains come for riders using the stations along the Green-Yellow Line tunnel.
-- There are two communication problems: How to explain this proposal to riders and how to make sure that once it's implemented, everybody gets where they want to go.
Related post: Easing the Orange Crush
| August 5, 2010; 11:21 AM ET
Categories: Blue Line, Commuting, Metro, Orange Line, Transit | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail
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