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Metro is getting close to capacity. Ask any Red Line rider during rush hour, and you’ll hear how often you have to wait for one or two trains to pass before you can finally cram your way into a car. Ask Metro itself, and you’ll get handy maps.
This, according to a post yesterday on Metro’s planning blog PlanItMetro, is how crowded Metro trains will be in 2040 if certain land use forecasts are met. Note that it’s not actually the Red Line, but parts of the Green, Blue, Orange, and Silver lines that are most jam-packed. The map applies to eight-car trains, so the situation will be even worse if some six-car trains continue to be used.
That looks unpleasant—-not to mention that it’ll start to take an economic toll on the city, if people determine that getting around is too difficult. So Metro modeled four scenarios to explore the impact they’d have on these capacity issues. Let’s take a look.
Scenario A separates the Blue Line from the Yellow Line and the Yellow Line from the Green Line, but restricts the new portions of the Blue and Yellow lines to the core, where capacity issues are most severe:
Scenario B is similar but extends the new Blue/Yellow loop farther east to connect to the Green Line stations with growing demand (Southwest Waterfront and Navy Yard-Ballpark) and to near-capacity Union Station:
Scenario C gets the Silver Line in on the action and adds an “Orange/Silver Express” that bypasses some of the Arlington stations:
And Scenario D throws a whole new element into the mix, a light-rail connection between Union Station, the Southeast and Southwest waterfronts, and Northern Virginia:
So how successful would these scenarios be in reducing congestion? According to Metro, Scenario C is the winner. It’s the only one that brings crowding below 100 passengers per car on all links of the network. Here’s what crowding looks like in that scenario, according to a recent Metro presentation to the Regional Transit System Plan’s Technical Advisory Group, tasked with reviewing proposed changes to the region’s transit grid.
All of the other scenarios involve red patches, mostly in Arlington.
Granted, none of this is as bold as my proposed solution, but it’s better than the claustrophobic continuation of the status quo.