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In my lengthy defense yesterday of the city’s proposed changes to the Height Act, I touched on the question of infrastructure. Critics have charged that allowing taller buildings will require expensive infrastructure upgrades to handle the additional capacity. I countered that our infrastructure is already overtaxed, and that the additional revenue from taller buildings will help pay for the upgrades we already need. Among other things, I wrote that Metro is “miserably overcrowded during rush hour.”

That line prompted an email from the District Department of Transportation’s Steve Strauss, who pointed me to a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority report from last month on the state of Metro. According to the report, our Metro system not only isn’t overburdened during rush hour; it’s actually undercrowded.

WMATA’s optimal number of passengers per car during rush hour is 100, with a minimum of 80 and a maximum of 120 within the target range. On the notoriously jam-packed Red Line at Metro Center during the p.m. rush, there were only 73 passengers per car on average in March, and 74 in April and May—-below the minimum. Even the stations that featured the most crowded trains—-Court House, Dupont Circle, and Farragut North in select months—-only reached an average of 98 passengers per car.

Here’s the full chart from the report:

What do you think? Would we be better served with 20 to 60 percent more people on Metro trains at the busiest stations during rush hour?

Photo via Flickr user The Last Cookie