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The Silver Spring Transit Center may get its own bike station

Beyond bike lanes, the Silver Spring Transit Center may even get its own bike station. There's money and a plan in place that just needs follow-through.

Bike parking at the Silver Spring Metro today. Photo by the author.

Other than twenty bike lockers that cost $120/year to rent, there's a lack of secure, sheltered bike storage at the Silver Spring Metro. That keeps people, myself included, from biking there. A bike shelter would address expected increases in bicycle parking demand that will come with the opening of the Silver Spring Transit Center, the Purple Line, and the extension of the Capital Crescent Trail and Metropolitan Branch Trail.

The Union Station bike station. Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr.

A multi-service, staffed bicycle parking station at the Silver Spring Transit Center would look a lot like the bike station at Union Station. It could even have lockers, showers, or a bicycle repair station.

There are real plans to fund the bike station

The idea of a bike station in Silver Spring has been around for years. Like delays with the transit center, it just keeps falling through the cracks.

However, nearby developers began to commit money to the project back in 2010, and there is about $500,000 set aside for the bike station at this point. Planning firm Toole Design Group completed a detailed study on a potential bicycle station at the Silver Spring Transit Center back in January 2014.

Some funding will come with Gene Lynch Urban Park, a new park that will be built across the street from the transit center. But the potential bike station also needs two nearby projects to move forward whose developers agreed to provide funding when they were approved: a hotel and apartment complex called Silver Spring Park and an apartment building at 8621 Georgia Avenue.

Right now, the bike station most needs drive to keep pushing it forward. Loss of staff and lack of budget have forced county planners to postpone their most recent efforts. Planners initially hoped to organize a one-day bike valet to highlight the demand for secure bike parking at the Silver Spring Metro, but that has now been pushed back at least until next summer.

Until the government officials or the bike and transit advocates take the lead on this project, it may continue to fall through the cracks.

Chicago has examples of a cheap way to bring rail transit to more people: infill stations

North of Union Station, the Metro station at NoMa is Washington's only "infill" station. Another is planned at Potomac Yard. In Chicago, where the CTA has been working on infill stations for several years, there's proof that the stations can be added cheaply.

Cermak/McCormick Place. Photo by the author.

Infill stations are new stations constructed between stations on an existing transit line. NoMa, for example, opened in 2004. It was built between the existing stations at Union Station and Rhode Island Avenue along tracks that had opened in 1976.

The Chicago L dates back over a century. In many places its iconic, rickety structures pass through the dense, vibrant neighborhoods they helped to create. But after World War II, when the CTA took over service, many stations were closed to make trips from the outlying branches faster and to bring down expenses.

In recent years, CTA has reopened several of these stations, which is a more intensive process than it sounds like because the old stations weren't just abandoned; they were demolished.

A few months ago, the agency opened a new station on the Green Line at Cermak/McCormick Place. The station has a gorgeous vaulted canopy. In this location, there's a former stretch of third track, which became platform space.

McCormick Place. Photo by the author.

But because the platform is so narrow, CTA didn't want to have any columns obstructing it. The solution was the vault, supported from outside the trackway. The station cost relatively cheap $50 million. (Yes, fifty million).

Across town, the Morgan station recently opened on the Green and Pink Lines. It was even cheaper to construct, coming in at just $38 million.

This station was also located where a former station had been removed in 1948. It has proven very popular, and was also fairly cheap and quick to construct.

Morgan. Photo by the author.

The Yellow Line is also home to an infill station at Oakton. That station was a recent additon to the line, which formerly had no intermediate stops between Skokie/Dempster and Howard.

In Washington, our infill stations tend to be a little more expensive because they're designed with wider platforms and sturdier materials. Also, in both the case of NoMa and Potomac Yard, the new stations required relocating the tracks. That was not the case in Chicago.

Where would you like to see an infill station on Metro?

A dedicated bus lane and 30 other ways to improve bus service on 16th Street

A full-time bus lane on 16th Street, or a rush-hour only lane, are two of many possible strategies for improving bus service on 16th Street. DC transportation planners presented a menu of ways to make these buses faster and more reliable at a meeting Wednesday night.

A bus in traffic on 16th Street. Photo by Kishan Putta on Twitter.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has been studying 16th Street in detail from Spring Road to Lafayette Park. Planners scrutinized the buses' operations to figure out how much time buses were waiting for people boarding, at lights, and more.

Now, they've devised three scenarios. Each scenario combines a host of individual changes, from small ones like lengthening a bus stop to major changes like a bus lane. After getting some more public input, the team will run them through traffic models.

Ultimately, they will be able to mix and match pieces, so rather than focusing too much on what's in each scenario, here is a list of some of the most significant ideas to think about.

A full-time bus lane (in scenario 2): 16th Street south of Spring would get a bus lane in each direction, a general travel lane in each direction, and a reversible lane. Between U Street and O Street, where 16th Street is 48 feet wide, it would become 5 narrow lanes (with the middle one reversible) instead of the current 4 wide lanes. That would ensure that drivers in the peak direction still get two lanes as they do today.

Typical lane configurations for scenario 2 in Columbia Heights (left) and Dupont (right). Click for a detailed diagram of the corridor with lane configurations for all portions. Images from DDOT.

A rush-hour bus lane in the peak direction (in scenario 3): During morning rush, 16th would have a southbound bus lane and two southbound general travel lanes; the reverse would apply in the evening. Through most of Columbia Heights where 16th is already 5 lanes, that means one reversible lane (like today). In the narrow part from U to O, it would stay four lanes, but in this scenario, would have two reversible lanes.

Typical lane configurations for scenario 3 in Columbia Heights (top) and Dupont Circle (bottom) in the AM peak (left) and PM peak (right). Click for a detailed diagram of the corridor with lane configurations for all portions. Images from DDOT.

Removing a few bus stops (all scenarios): In some places, bus stops are very close together, like a stop at Riggs Place southbound which is between other stops at Q and R. Planners suggest removing southbound stops at Newton, Lamont, V, and Riggs, and northbound at L, Q, V, Lamont, and Newton.

Queue jumps (scenario 1): If there is no bus lane, there would be a few "queue jump" areas where buses could go ahead of other vehicles at a signal. For instance, northbound at U Street, buses now pull out into a combination bus stop and right turn lane, but then have to wait to merge back in when the light turns green. A special signal could let the bus go first if it's waiting.

Headway-based service (all scenarios): Now, buses operate on a schedule, where each bus leaves at a predetermined time. The Circulator, instead, uses a headway system where they leave each end whenever it would space out the buses at the appropriate time intervals (10 minutes for Circulator). The S buses would start using this same system as well to try to reduce bunching.

Other bus stop tweaks (all scenarios): Southbound, the stops at Harvard and M Streets would move to the far side of the street, which will also make it possible to lengthen them. Other stops would get longer as well.

Off-board fare payment: There are three ways to do this. One (in scenario 2) would be to just add kiosks at bus stops to let people load up their SmarTrip cards while waiting for the bus. Loading them on the bus adds a lot of delay.

WMATA is already exploring doing this on five lines, though at the meeting, Megan Kanagy of the study team said that cash transactions on 16th Street represent a low percentage of riders.

Alternately, DDOT and WMATA could work together to set up full off-board payment, where people touch a SmarTrip at a kiosk or pay and get a receipt or something (the exact physical details are not yet worked out). Inspectors would then spot check buses to verify people had paid.

Fare payment kiosks for New York's 34th Street Select Bus Service. Photo by New York City Department of Transportation on Flickr.

According to the table here this would save 1-4 seconds per rider. People could also then board through both the front and rear doors.

This is a big change, however. One challenge is that it's hard to do this on only part of a route, since if someone gets on in the non-off-board zone, pays with cash, and then rides into the zone, there's no way to prove he or she paid. The S1 bus now splits off the other buses at K Street and heads over to the State Department, while the S2 and S4 go east and south to the Federal Triangle area. Therefore, this option would be hard to implement unless the routes also got shorter, as discussed below.

An easier way to get started (in scenario 3) would be just to do this on the S9 express bus, which goes from Silver Spring to McPherson Square and makes fewer stops.

Shorter routes (scenario 1): In addition to the issues with off-board payment, the route split also hurts reliability. Longer routes are harder to keep on time, and when buses start in far-apart spots and then merge, it's hard to get them to not be bunched up once they merge.

One option, then, is to shorten the downtown sections of each route, having the S1 just go to Farragut and the S2 and S4 just to McPherson.

Routes for the S1, S2, and S4 downtown. Image from WMATA.

A big drawback is that especially for the S1, riders won't have a lot of great alternatives. In fact, Metro is already proposing cutting back the 80 bus to make it more reliable, and it doesn't run very frequently anyway. According to the data here (page 23), 61% of the riders who take the S1 to the Dupont/U/Columbia Heights area get on in the portion beyond McPherson.

So that doesn't sound so good right now. But it could be in the future. Transit planning guru Jarrett Walker talks a lot about the value of having a simple network of frequent routes instead of a lot of branching. Rather than giving riders a lot of sub-routes which go different places, just make it easy to transfer (just like with most rail systems).

If Metro were able to more holistically rethink the bus routes downtown, we might end up with a network where all S buses go to the same place, but there's a frequent, reliable route east-west. Anyone going to the Foggy Bottom area could confidently transfer to that bus without it making the trip much slower or less reliable than the S1 today (or hopefully even better!)

Therefore, it seems this option is worth studying now, but probably not implementing yet. The bigger rethink of bus routes is also worth getting started on.

Fix some intersections: DDOT previously studied of the complicated intersection where Havard, Columbia, and Mt. Pleasant Streets all meet 16th in three very closely-spaced lines. Scenario 2 contemplates going ahead with some changes, though there would be more of a public process first to decide exactly what that would be.

Driving southbound, one lane becomes a left turn lane at W Street, and a lot of drivers either don't know or try to use that to jump ahead. All scenarios consider starting signs earlier and a physical separator as well.

Limit parking: There are 535 parking spaces in this area now. Ten would go away to lengthen bus stops in all scenarios. Right now, parking is not allowed along the peak direction during rush periods, and in some places is not allowed in either direction during rush.

In scenario 1, there would also be no parking midday (when parking really constrains the buses which have to merge into traffic), but still parking in the off-peak direction mornings and evenings. Scenario 2, the full-time bus lane, would have no parking except for 10 pm to 7 am, when people could park in the bus lane.

Scenario 3, the part-time bus lane, would have no parking on either side during morning or evening rush periods (to make room for the bus lane) but still allow it midday. However, in all scenarios the middday period would not start until 10 am, versus 9:30 today. The many pieces of each scenario are complex, but summarized here (page 22).

Use Arkansas instead of Missouri (scenario 1): Buses driving to or from the bus garage on 14th Street now go north to Missouri Avenue and then south again on 16th. Instead, they could use Arkansas Avenue, just south of the bus garage, increasing reliability.

Weigh in

The team wants to hear from residents before they start running the scenarios through the traffic models. They're interested in strategies they might not have included and feedback on the ones they did.

There will be four "pop-up" events, where people can stop by, ask questions, and give feedback without having to sit through a long meeting. They are:

  • Wednesday, October 7, 5:30-7:30 pm at 16th Street and Spring Place, NW
  • Wednesday October 14, 4-6 pm at 16th and L
  • Thursday, October 15, 5:30-7:30 pm at 16th and U
  • Saturday, October 17, Noon-2 pm at 16th and Irving
And leave your thoughts in the comments. What do you think is best? Anything else that should be part of the mix?

The Metro map could have looked like this

Does this map look like the Metro map we know today? It's a direct ancestor.

Design by Massimo Vignelli via MetroMapArt.

Peter Lloyd, who writes the blog Metro Map Art, included this in a book he wrote about designer Massimo Vignelli. Vignelli notably created the 1972 version of the New York Subway map, which simplified the shapes of the lines into only verticals, horizontals, and diagonals.

Today's Metro map uses those same orientations, while New York moved away from it toward a more curved, partially more geographically accurate version. But Vignelli also worked with Metro architect Harry Weese, designing the iconic pylons outside stations, the original signs inside, and more, including the above map.

But Vignelli was not the designer who created the final map. That was Lance Wyman, a designer with a much less severe aesthetic. Lloyd visited an exhibit about Wyman's design in Monterrey, Mexico. The exhibit contains early sketches for the Metro map which strongly resemble the Vignelli map but also the modern one.

Photo by Reka Komoli via MetroMapArt.

As you can see, the colors changed, and so did the names for the ends of lines (that, of course, not being the designers' doing). Nutley Road is now Vienna, Ardmore is New Carrollton. Greenbelt Road became just Greenbelt when planners moved the station closer to the Beltway. Initial plans to split the now-Yellow line to Franconia and Springfield (then Backlick Road) became one unified Franconia-Springfield station.

Another hallmark of Wyman's work is the use of icons in wayfinding. As Lloyd explains, Wyman initially proposed having icons for each station, and in fact that's a reason the map has large circles and fat lines.

Design by Lance Wyman via MetroMapArt.

According to Lloyd, Vignelli led an effort to reject the icon concept.

Metro's service evolves as well

The map also has changed as the system grew beyond the initial plans. In 2011, Metro hired Wyman to redesign the map to fit in the Silver Line. The latest issue of Washingtonian looks at changes in the region over the years, including Metro; Angie Hilsman created this animated GIF of Metro service growth based on maps I drew:

These maps show the service patterns, not the actual maps in stations; as the system was constructed, the maps instead showed the then-planned lines with broken lines and empty circles for as-yet-unbuilt tracks and stations. You can see the full set of these images in this slideshow:

Metro wants to connect Farragut North and West with a tunnel

Since 2004, Metro has been planning to build an underground connection between Farragut North and Farragut West. The two busy downtown stations are only 400 feet apart, and a connection could provide an attractive alternative to Metro Center, currently the only transfer point between the Red and Blue/Orange/Silver lines.

People walking between the Farragut stations. They would be able to connect underground if Metro builds this connector. All images from WMATA unless otherwise noted.

This was supposed to happen in the original plan

The Red Line crosses the Blue/Orange/Silver Line twice: once at Metro Center, where passengers can transfer between trains, and again at Connecticut and I Street at the southeast corner of Farragut Square. Early plans for the Metro system called for a single Farragut Square station, with two levels allowing transfers like at Metro Center.

But the National Park Service balked at allowing WMATA to dig up the square to build a station there, since it would mean killing the old trees in the square. As a result, there are two separate stations, one at Farragut North for the Red Line and one at Farragut West for the Blue/Orange/Silver Lines.

Metro lines and entrances around Farragut square.

That means that riders coming from Virginia who want to head northwest on the Red Line have to stay on the train longer, riding past Farragut and McPherson Squares and doubling back at Metro Center, the busiest station in the system.

In 2011, Metro instituted a "virtual tunnel" called Farragut Crossing that allows riders to exit one Farragut and enter the other Farragut using a SmarTrip card without incurring an additional fare surcharge. However, this free transfer requires crossing three streets (K, I, and 17th) and walking a block outside. On weekends and for wheelchair users, the transfer also requires an additional block and crossing 18th Street.

Photo by Dan Malouff.

Metro officials are continuing to work on the connector because it will provide necessary congestion relief at Metro Center and will shorten many riders' trips. However, they're also planning additional improvements in Farragut North and Farragut West since the tunnel will increase usage there.

Beyond the tunnel, stations would need greater capacity

There are three primary components in the project.

The biggest element is the tunnel itself, which will stretch about 450 feet between the eastern (17th Street) mezzanine at Farragut West to the south end of Farragut North. The entire tunnel will be in the fare-paid area. In the current plans, there would be no new entrances built along the tunnel.

Ways Farragut North and West could be connected.

Another part of the project calls for Farragut North to be able to handle more traffic. This means new staircases between the central/south mezzanine and the platform, redundant street and platform elevators, and reconfigured faregates.

Changes to the center mezzanine at Farragut North.

One of WMATA's design options also would extend the central/south mezzanine so it connects directly to the tunnel to Farragut West. That option improves circulation since it allows passengers to avoid the platform.

Connector at Farragut North, option 2.

The final component of the project would expand capacity at Farragut West by extending the mezzanines on both the east and western ends, adding platform and street elevators at the eastern mezzanine, and reconfiguring the fare vending machines and faregates.

Extension to the west mezzanine at Farragut West.

The project would have the added benefit of making Farragut North and Farragut West elevator-redundant stations, improving the accessibility of the system.

This would save time and ease congestion

The largest benefit is time savings for transferring riders. Without the tunnel, planners estimate that under crowded conditions in 2030 the tunnel would reduce travel time between the Farraguts from 6:14 (via Metro Center) or 7:51 (via 17th Street) to 3:19 (via the tunnel). The time savings is even greater during uncongested periods, with a reduction from 5:35 (via Metro Center) or 6:17 (via 17th Street) to 1:39 (via the tunnel).

Another advantage of the tunnel is that it would reduce crowding at Metro Center. Today, there are almost 85,000 daily transfers at Metro Center (in addition to about 56,000 daily entries and exits). Without the tunnel, the number of transfers at Metro Center is expected to climb to over 100,000 by 2030, with daily entries and exits rising to about 70,000.

Crowding at Metro Center.

With the tunnel, transfers at Metro Center would drop to around 78,000 by 2030, less than the number today. That's because approximately 26,000 riders would elect to transfer between the Farraguts rather than at Metro Center.

Additionally, the proposed improvements at Farragut North and Farragut West inside the stations could reduce congestion on the platforms.

The current arrangement of escalators at Farragut North's central and southern mezzanines concentrates passengers in the center of the platform. New staircases on either end of the mezzanine would better distribute passengers and reduce crowding.

Crowding at Farragut North.

At Farragut West, the four additional escalators would clear the platform more quickly, though they would likely increase congestion in the mezzanines.

Costs could be spread out

The project doesn't have to happen all at once. The pieces could probably be broken out, though it could be easier or less disruptive to build them together.

The tunnel itself is estimated to cost between $70 and $73 million. The Farragut North improvements would cost around $23 million. The Farragut West construction would run about $36 million. That brings the total cost to around $130 million.

However, this study hasn't fleshed out all the issues. Metro still needs to conduct additional analysis to determine some of the structural elements and do further design work.

Funding hasn't yet been identified, nor has a timeline for construction. However, the study does anticipate the tunnel being open by 2030.

These Metro stations have backup elevators

If you've ever needed an elevator to get in or out of a Metro station but the one at the station you were using wasn't working, you probably had to ride a shuttle to or from the next-closest station with a working one. Some stations, however, have redundant elevators, meaning there is more than one elevator for every possible trip, including every platform and mezzanine, plus the sidewalk.

Graphic by the author.

Metro decided around 2003 to install redundant elevators at new stations so that even if an elevator goes out of service, a person in a wheelchair can still access every part of the station and won't need to take a shuttle to another station.

The typical setup can break down in multiple places

At most stations, those who require the use of an elevator have to use more than one. In cases like this, there's one elevator going from the street to the mezzanine. Then there's a second elevator going from the mezzanine to the platform. At side platform stations, there would be one for each platform.

If either of those elevators is out of service, the station isn't accessible and Metro has to run shuttle service.

At a few stations, the elevator runs directly from the street to the platform(s). That's the case at Judiciary Square, for instance.

Some Metro stations have more than one mezzanine, with an entrance from each. But very few of those stations have elevator access at more than one of those. For example, Dupont Circle has entrances at Q Street (north mezzanine) and 19th Street (south mezzanine). But only the Q Street entrance has elevator access.

There's a new norm that avoids the problem

Stations constructed or renovated since 2003 have redundant elevators. This can take two forms. In one case, a station with two entrances has non-redundant elevators at both entrances. In the other case, one entrance has at least two elevators for every movement.

The first station to have redundant elevators was actually Friendship Heights. The northern mezzanine opened with the station in 1984 and has (non-redundant) elevators leading to the surface. The southern entrance, which opened in 1985, includes a bank of four high-speed elevators leading to the street instead of escalators.

However, there's only one mezzanine-to-platform elevator at the Friendship Heights southern mezzanine, so the entrance is not itself redundant. But since both entrances have elevators and are just two blocks apart, the station is still accessible when one elevator breaks.

The second station with redundant elevators was Forest Glen, which has one elevator-only entrance. The five elevators go directly from the platform to the mezzanine, which is at street level. That station opened in 1990.

The first station to get redundant elevators under Metro's new policy was Mount Vernon Square, which was renovated as part of the construction of the convention center in 2003. At Mount Vernon Square, there's only one entrance, but there are three elevators elevators going between the street and the mezzanine—three have to be broken to prevent access. There are also two elevators between the mezzanine and the platform. As long as one is functioning, people can still make the movement.

2006 saw the construction of a new northern entrance at King Street station, which includes an elevator, making the station redundant.

Navy Yard became redundant in 2008 when the Half Street entrance was reconstructed in preparation for Nats Park. Prior to that time, the New Jersey Avenue entrance was the only entrance with elevator access. Now both entrances are accessible: at both, there's one elevator from the street to the mezzanine and one from the mezzanine to the platform.

Additionally, Metro opened three stations in 2004, each of which included redundant elevators: Largo, Morgan Boulevard, and NoMa. The five recently-opened Silver Line stations are also redundant.

Two stations are partially redundant. Gallery Place got new street elevators as part of the construction of the Verizon Center in 1997. The station has redundant elevators between the Glenmont platform and the street only. Access to the Green/Yellow and Shady Grove platforms is not redundant.

Rosslyn is also redundant for elevator users between the street and the inbound platform. A new entrance opened in 2013, replacing the former solitary elevator between the inbound platform and the street. The new entrance has three high-speed elevators which go directly from the street to the inbound platform. However, there is still just one elevator between the inbound and outbound platforms, so the station is not fully redundant.

Future redundant stations

Construction should start soon on a new entrance at Medical Center. Currently, the station has one mezzanine, with a single elevator leading from the platform to the mezzanine and a second elevator (and a bank of three escalators) leading to the west side of Rockville Pike at the National Institutes of Health.

In a few months, Montgomery County will start work on a new elevator-only entrance on the east side of Rockville Pike directly across from the current entrance. Three high-speed elevators will lead to the existing mezzanine, which will be renovated to include a second platform elevator and a new staircase. The project is expected to be complete in 2018.

Arlington is constructing a western entrance to Ballston which will have redundant elevators. That project is expected to be completed in 2021.

Additionally, as a part of the Purple Line project, new entrances will be added at Bethesda and Silver Spring in 2021.

At Bethesda, a new south entrance will include redundant platform to mezzanine elevators and four high-speed mezzanine to Purple Line elevators. The new entrance will be located a few blocks south of the current entrance, emerging at Wisconsin and Elm.

Silver Spring will get a third entrance, located at the southern end of the platform. The new mezzanine will be located above the platform, roughly aligned with the third level of the newly-opened Sarbanes Transit Center. The Purple Line platform will be located above that connection, on the fourth level of the center.

Metro has some other projects on the radar that would include redundant elevators. However, as of right now, these projects aren't funded, so they may or may not happen. One such project includes plans to reconfigure the northern entrance to Union Station, which would include two sets of redundant elevators.

Additionally, the agency has plans to make Farragut North and Farragut West redundant as part of the proposed pedestrian connection between those stations.

In the future, some stations may get new entrances, which would make them redundant. But none are currently in active planning.

NTSB recommends the federal government take over safety oversight of Metro

The National Transportation Safety Board has "urgently" recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration take over safety oversight for WMATA.

Photo by Cliff on Flickr.

FRA already regulates safety for intercity rail, including freight and passenger rail like Amtrak, and commuter rail systems like MARC and VRE. It doesn't oversee most urban transit systems, except the PATH train between New York and New Jersey.

Since WMATA spans DC, Maryland, and Virginia, the current oversight body is the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC), a team of officials from the three jurisdictions' departments of transportation who oversee safety.

The current system has failed

The TOC has often not been successful. After the Fort Totten crash, it turned out WMATA had refused to let them access the tracks. But the group could only write more and more exasperated letters to the same people at Metro and apparently had no way to escalate the issue outside the agency. Some higher-ups at the DOTs didn't even know that TOC members reported to their organizations.

There were efforts to beef up the TOC since 2009-2010, but the NTSB has concluded they have not been successful.

The FRA may have downsides as well

While there's a lot of reason to support this move, it's also important to have some caution as well. There are possible drawbacks to federal control of these systems.

The FRA, for its part, has come under criticism in the past for the way it regulates safety. On intercity railroads, for instance, FRA pushed for heavier trains which can survive crashes instead of trains that can stop more quickly to avoid crashes. This forced US rail vehicles to be heavier than European counterparts, making it more expensive to buy them. Problems with cracking in Acela trains a decade ago were blamed, at least in part, on the extra weight because of this rule.

PATH officials have blamed FRA regulations for high operational costs. For example, the FRA required PATH to run more tests, more often, including tests on things not strongly connected to safety such as air conditioning.

If the FRA does take over, it could ensure safety oversight is stronger, which is absolutely necessary. It's also possible it might raise costs, and the region must be vigilant to ensure that FRA never throws the baby out with the bathwater by hamstringing Metro in some way that degrades service.

This one chart shows why Metro was so crowded Monday

Metro has drastically cut the numbers of Orange and Silver Line trains after fire destroyed a power station near Stadium-Armory last week. Travis graphed the numbers of trains passing through Farragut West versus the usual service pattern.

Farragut West, September 28, 2015. Click for the entire chart. Chart by the author.

Metro already wasn't meeting its schedule for running trains through Farragut West, but now that previous service level looks great compared to the level forced by the fire.

Greater Greater Washington readers felt real pain on the rails because of the changes. Walter A wrote,

This was a bad day. At 9 am the Wiehle trains started closer to 10 minutes apart, and a coworker reported Vienna this morning started 12 minutes apart—not 8. Rosslyn at 5:30 pm was over capacity with riders not able to get on a Wiehle train, then a Vienna train. Fun times finally getting on the next Wiehle stop as my coworker back-commuted into town to try to get onto a Vienna train.
And here's W_in_Reston:
Those 8 mins between trains can be 6 mins, or 10, even at Wiehle-Reston. On Monday it was 10 mins. Today 6. That makes it a bit harder to plan the commute, but not by much.

During evening rush on Monday there was definitely insufficient capacity on the line. Going west, past Metro Center, the train was essentially full and people were packing in under increasing pressure. By Farragut West only people who got on replaced those who came off. At Rosslyn a whole platform of people was left behind. Even all the way to Wiehle the train was packed.

WMATA announced that the Blue Line will use all eight-car trains to try to reduce crowding despite the lost service, though there were still several six-car trains Tuesday morning. (One Metro tweet said a six-car train was added on top of planned trains).

MetroMinder posted an analysis of the Blue Line headways at Potomac Avenue Tuesday morning, which included some gaps of 19 minutes and up. Travis plans to record additional data at Farragut West over the next few weeks. This will help analyze how this new scheduling works out and if Metro can maintain planned 8-minute headways.

So far, a lot of riders are wondering if they can endure up to six months of this.

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