Greater Greater Washington

Posts by Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Planning Department. His views are his own and do not represent the opinion of his employer. 

33% of Metro rail trips stay within one city or county. Where are they?

A few days ago, Metro planners wrote that about two-thirds of Metrorail trips cross county or state boundaries. What about the trips that don't?


All maps by the author.

Commenter Richard said he was surprised there were any intrajurisdictional trips in Prince George's County, given the lack of development around the stations. To understand it, I delved deeper.

This analysis, and Metro's, consider the jurisdictions of DC, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County. Because the morning peak period best represents the commute trip, my analysis considers the morning peak only.

Metro's data only counts a trip as cross-jurisdictional if it ends in a different jurisdiction from where it started. But my analysis also excludes trips like Prince George's Plaza to Suitland, which cross a boundary and then return to the original jurisdiction.

Prince George's County

In the case of Prince George's, there are four isolated segments with three or four stations each. These short segments don't have a lot of synergy to collect the longer trips Metro riders typically take, and there's not a lot of transit-oriented development around any of the stations. Not surprisingly, few trips stay entirely within Prince George's.


All graphics by the author.

In Prince George's the Blue Line section from Capitol Heights to Largo has the highest intrajurisdictional rate. During the AM peak, 3.47% of trips that start at one of those stations ends at one of them. The Greenbelt end of the Green Line is next, with 3.00% of trips staying within that section.

On the other end of the line, between Southern Avenue and Branch Avenue, 2.49% of trips that start there also end there. The New Carrollton branch trails, with just 1.24% of riders staying within that section.

Why would people take trips between these stations? Some passengers are likely making "bridge" trips connecting between two bus lines. In some of the other jurisdictions, those trips might also happen on the bus network, but none of the Metro lines in Prince George's have much parallel bus service. Additionally, while there's not much development, there is enough to generate some trips that don't cross the county line.

One more methodology note: There are some border stations which are in two jurisdictions, like Capitol Heights on the DC/Prince George's boundary. I counted all trips between Capitol Heights and one of the stations toward Largo as a Prince George's trip, and any trip between Capitol Heights and a station in DC as an intra-DC trip. The same went for the other border stations: Friendship Heights, Southern Avenue, Takoma, and Van Dorn Street.

Montgomery County

Next door, in Montgomery County, the numbers are quite different. Both ends of the Red Line extend into Montgomery County, but between Silver Spring and Friendship Heights the line is in the District.

The Glenmont end has 5 stations, counting Takoma, which is just a block inside the District. Glenmont, Wheaton, and Silver Spring are all major bus hubs. Silver Spring is a major jobs center, which probably helps draw intrajurisdictional trips.

On the other side of Rock Creek, the Red Line penetrates deep into Montgomery County, running all the way from Friendship Heights out to Shady Grove. Bethesda and Medical Center are home to many jobs, and Rockville and White Flint have growing employment markets.

In terms of intrajurisdictional ridership, the Shady Grove end does better: 22.70% of trips that start within that segment stay there. Only DC has a higher rate of intrajurisdictional trips. The Glenmont end of the line sees 5.13% of trips stay within the section.

Fairfax County

Across the Potomac, Fairfax County has four disconnected segments. We'll discount the Huntington end, since Huntington is alone in Fairfax. The next station on the line, Eisenhower Avenue, is in Alexandria.

The other sections consist of the Blue Line between Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street, the Orange Line between Vienna and West Falls Church, and the Silver Line between Wiehle Avenue and McLean.

The Franconia end of the Blue Line really doesn't have a chance to get any synergy, with just two stations. Van Dorn Street is technically in Alexandria, but, like Takoma, is right on the boundary. On the Orange Line, Fairfax has been trying to build TOD around its stations, but the three stops are all in the median of I-66. The Silver Line, on the other hand, serves the major jobs center in Tysons and extends far beyond to a park-and-ride at Wiehle Avenue.

Even though the Silver Line had only been open for about three months in this data set, it performs the best within Fairfax. Of the trips that start at one of the five stations, 6.05% are to another of those stations, which is almost a full percentage point above the Glenmont end of the Red Line.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Franconia section of the Blue Line within Fairfax comes in second place, with 1.79% of trips that start at one of those two stations going to the other. The Vienna end of the Orange Line sees only 1.71% of trips that start there also end there.

Alexandria

In Alexandria, there's a contiguous section of the Blue and Yellow lines between Braddock Road and Van Dorn Street and Eisenhower Avenue. This section contains just four stations.

Only 4.10% of trips that start in Alexandria stay within the city.

Arlington County

Like its neighbor to the south, Arlington has one group of contiguous stations in two corridors. In the north end of the county, the Orange and Silver lines serve six stations from East Falls Church to Rosslyn. The Blue Line and (south of Pentagon) the Yellow Line serve five more stations along the Potomac River between Rosslyn and National Airport.

This area includes major jobs and housing centers in both corridors, but especially in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

Of the trips that start at one of these 11 stations, 13.28% stay within Arlington County. That puts the county in third place for intrajurisdictional trips in the AM peak, after DC and Montgomery's Shady Grove branch.

District of Columbia

Finally, as expected, the District has the greatest amount of intrajurisdictional ridership. A whopping 75.83% of trips that start within the District stay there.

That shouldn't surprise anyone, since the District has the largest contiguous section of the Metro system, the densest and most transit-served central business district in the region, and dense transit-oriented neighborhoods.

Generally, cities and counties that have encouraged transit-oriented development around their stations, like Montgomery County's west side and Arlington, have more intra-jurisdictional ridership than others. But simply having more stations and track mileage also has a lot to do with it.

Circling the answers to whichWMATA week 40

This week's whichWMATA, the fortieth, had a theme: All of the stations have shapes in their names. How well did you do?

We got 28 guesses this week. Four of you got all five. Great work, Peter K, Rich Frangiamore, FN, and Mr. Johnson! Joey and Chris H also correctly identified the theme, but didn't get all five correct.


Image 1: Dupont Circle

Of Metro's 91 stations, eight have shapes in their names. There's one circle, one triangle, four squares, and two pentagons. I also tried to take photos that featured geometric shapes as well.

The first picture shows the broad bowl that's home to the northern (Q Street) escalators at Dupont Circle station. The circular rim and pit is itself unique within the Metro system. But another distinguishing feature is the inscription around the rim, which Metro installed in 2007. The words are an excerpt from Walt Whitman's poem The Wound Dresser. Every person got this one right, all 28 of you. Great work!


Image 2: Federal Triangle

The next image shows the street escalators at Federal Triangle. Several of you confused this with Union Station, but this entrance is significantly different. For one, there are three side-by-side escalators here. Union Station has just two, and they're separated. Additionally, at Union Station, the escalators face the wall of the station, not the exterior. In this case, the light is streaming in from the courtyard (opposite 12th Street). Just over half of you—16—guessed correctly.


Image 3: Mount Vernon Square

When I went to Mount Vernon Square last week to collect pictures for this series, I didn't intend to capture this angle, which is directly above the street escalators and stair. But the sharp triangle fit with the set so well, I couldn't not snap a shot. The superstructure is part of the Convention Center, and stands over the entrance on the southwest corner of 7th and M Streets NW.

I expected this one to be a stretch, but if you'd sussed out the theme you should have been able to narrow this down to one of four stations. This was the hardest of the set, garnering only five correct answers. Two people guessed a different "square" station.


Image 4: Virginia Square

The fourth image is another square. It's Virginia Square, to be precise, which heretofore was the only station in Virginia we hadn't featured. If you had figured out the theme, you probably knew that the building at left doesn't fit around any of the DC "square" stations, and this is the only "square" outside of the District. It's clearly a residential building (with balconies) and is of the style typical of the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor.

The other icon is the clock tower visible through the escalator canopy, which a surprising number of you seemed to recognize on its own. Sixteen people knew this was Virginia Square.


Image 5: Pentagon City

The final image shows an unused entrance to Pentagon City. When the station was built, in addition to the entrances on either side of Hayes Street south of 12th Street (and a direct entrance into the mall), a tunnel ran over to the northeast corner. At some point, however, that tunnel closed. But the entrance is behind a set of glass doors immediately opposite the faregates. There are four porthole-shaped windows along the passage, which are the subject of this photo.

In keeping with the theme, they're also a geometric shape. They're the only real clue to this image, but they're a very distinct and easily-visible feature of Pentagon City station since they're straight ahead as you exit the faregates. Nine of you figured this one out.

I expected many people to get Dupont Circle, Federal Triangle, and Pentagon City, since those stations are well-used and fairly distinct. I hoped that knowing there was a theme would help people figure out the two "square" stations.

Thanks to everyone for playing! Great work. Stay tuned. We'll have five more images for you next Tuesday.

How well do you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 40

It's time for the fortieth installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of five stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?

Update: This week is a themed week. Figuring out the theme may help you figure out the answers.


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The answers will appear on Thursday. We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

Update: The answers are here.

Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 39

On Tuesday, we posted our thirty-ninth photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took five photos in the Metro system. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

All five stations featured this week are first-time whichWMATA entries. We got 23 guesses in this round. Only two of you got all five. Great work, Peter K and Mr. Johnson!


Image 1: Court House

The first image shows the main entrance to Court House station, at the southwest corner of Clarendon Boulevard and North Uhle Street. The key to getting this one right was recognizing the yellow awnings above the entrance. Sixteen of you got this one right.


Image 2: McPherson Square

Recognizing the entrance was key for the second image as well. This one is the eastern entrance to McPherson Square station, at the southwest corner of I Street and 14th Street NW. The entrance in this case is the underside of 1400 I Street. The bulky buildings visible at left hint that this entrance is somewhere downtown, which also helped narrow it down. Fourteen of you knew this one.


Image 3: Dunn Loring

The third image shows the perspective looking up into the mezzanine at Dunn Loring. This entrance is unique because the escalator/stair bank is offset to the south to allow for a passage along the north edge of the platform to the elevator. The railing indicates that. This configuration is similar to Anacostia (though Anacostia has 3 escalators instead of 2 escalators and a stair), which we featured last week.

There were also two other clues to help you narrow it down. First, the line of skylights visible in the mezzanine is typical of mezzanines in the I-66 median section. Secondly, because I took this picture at about 5:30, the sun is setting and shining directly down the "tunnel" under the mezzanine. That should have told you this was an above-ground station with, roughly, an east-west orientation. Only seven guessed Dunn Loring.


Image 4: Farragut West

The next image shows a public art installation at eastern entrance to Farragut West station, located on the south side of Farragut Square. Since this is a unique art installation, there wasn't much to help you figure this out except to have seen it. Seven of you knew it was Farragut West.


Image 5: Crystal City

The final image is Crystal City. Seeing that the station has a waffle design and side platforms should have significantly narrowed the possibilities. But there is one definitive way to say this is Crystal City: the configuration of the mezzanine.

The escalator configuration at the waffle side platform stations looks like a tuning fork (see this graphic for a visual). At almost all of those stations (like at Dupont Circle), there are two nested at each mezzanine. Crystal City has six escalators, and is arranged uniquely. Two of the "tuning forks" point southward, but one points northward. At Pentagon City, Ballston, and L'Enfant Plaza (7th Street), there are also six escalators, but they have three nested tuning forks all pointing the same direction instead.

In the image above, you can see the solitary northward-facing tuning fork. But on the far side of the tracks, you can also make out two escalators pointed southward if you look closely. That means this must be Crystal City. Twelve of you got this one correct.

Thanks to everyone for playing! Great work. Stay tuned. We'll have five more images for you next Tuesday.

How well do you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 39

It's time for the thirty-ninth installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of 5 stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?


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The answers will appear on Thursday. We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

Update: The answers are here.

"Streetcar" or "street car"? That is the question

Soon (though we don't know when), streetcars will start carrying passengers in DC after five decades in exile. That brings up an interesting question: How do we spell this new (yet old) technology?


The cover of a reproduction 1958 DC Transit map.

In our comments, most of you write "streetcar" when talking about DDOT's program to bring the railed vehicles back. But others among you say "street car" (with a space). Who's right?

As it turns out, the answer is somewhat complicated. However, current usage favors the one-word version: "streetcar." This is also the official name of the service in terms of DC's branding.

But this hasn't always been the case. When electric streetcars first came on the scene in the 1880s, they were often called "street cars." Over time, this morphed into the one-word appellation. In the graph below, you can see the trend changed around 1940, with the contracted sobriquet catching on.

This graph, from Google's ngram viewer, shows the count of the words "street car," "streetcar," and "trolley" in the corpus of American books (that Google has scanned).


Image from Google Ngram Viewer. Click for the interactive version.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term in its modern usage dates back to at least 1839, when it was spelled "street-car." At the time, it was being used to refer to horse cars, since the electric streetcar wasn't around yet.

In examples from 1862, 1886, and 1929, the OED cites examples with "street car," but examples from 1887 and 1967 use the consolidated "streetcar." Prior to its modern usage, "street car" referred to a cart. In that context, the OED cites examples from 1671-1723.

Even after "streetcar" began to overtake "street car" as the preferred moniker, the two-word term persisted. And that was probably because streetcars were often called simply "cars." This tradition continues today in San Francisco, where some streetcar and light rail stops are still called "car stops." Often the only sign of transit stop is a swatch of yellow paint on the pavement with the stenciled words "car stop" or "bus stop."

In the early days of bustitution, in fact, other terms started to emerge. To differentiate the new vehicles from streetcars, new labels were needed. Transit operators often referred to diesel or gasoline buses as "coaches" or "motor coaches." Electric buses were "trolley buses" (sometimes one word) or "trackless trolleys." Again, there are remnants. San Francisco still has "coach stops" scattered throughout the city.

On my reproduction 1958 DC Transit map, which would have been published less than four years before the end of streetcar service, streetcars are called "street cars" and the map shows "car and bus routes."


Legend on a reproduction 1958 DC Transit map from the author's collection.

You can also see in the legend a key to the numbering system, which persists today for Metrobus routes in DC, with rush hour routes using odd numbers and full-time routes using even numbers. Today's numbered lines, like the 42, were streetcars, while letter-number lines, like the X2, were buses.

Clarification: The above paragraph is describing the legend on the 1958 map. In the past, there were streetcars operating on H Street. However, Capital Transit changed them from a number-number (e.g. 42) to a letter-number (e.g. X2) whenever they were bustituted. We apologize for any confusion the above paragraph may have caused.

Today, though, style guides and dictionaries have settled firmly on "streetcar" as the appropriate word. None of the transit services operating in North America use the two-word version in their branding, though "streetcar" isn't universal; "trolley" still persists as the preferred term and brand in some cities.

A similar process appears to be happing with other words. We're still settling on whether to call separated bike facilities "cycle tracks" or "cycletracks" (we're calling them "protected bikeways"). Do you use "bike share" or "bikeshare?" The transition from "street car" to "streetcar" took a while, but these days it seems like the debate is over.

Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 38

On Tuesday, we featured the thirty-eighth issue of our "whichWMATA" series. This week, all five photos were guest submissions from reader Peter K.

This week we got 28 guesses. Four people got all five correct. Great work, JamesDCane, MZEBE, Mr. Johnson, and FN!


Image 1: Dupont Circle

The first image shows the view up out of the north entrance to Dupont Circle station. This is yet another view of the distinctive circular "bowl" that forms the Q Street entrance, which we also featured in Week 22 and Week 33. This entrance also happens to be one of only a handful within the system that has uncovered escalators, which won't be the case for long if WMATA has its way.

Almost all of you—26—got this one right. Great work.


Image 2: Ballston

The second image shows the view out of Ballston station. The roof over the street escalators at Ballston is of a style distinct from Metro's standard escalator canopies. If you didn't recognize that, the building visible through the roof was also a hint—it is tall enough that it would violate the federal Height of Buildings Act if it were in DC, so we must be at one of the 15 underground stations in Virginia or Maryland.

Twenty-five of you knew this one.


Image 3: Pentagon

Next up on our tour of views along Metro escalators is Pentagon station. This is the view up the south escalators, on the way to the station's massive bus transfer area. The big hint here is the roof over the escalators, which is of the same distinctive style as the rest of the modern Pentagon bus hub that was constructed in 2001.

Eagle-eyed respondents might have also noticed that the escalators themselves are a clue—the continuous strip of LEDs along the treads are common to the escalators replaced during the Metro Forward rebuilding effort (like the ones at Foggy Bottom, as we saw in week 35). WMATA replaced these three escalators in 2013.

This was the most difficult one this week. Only five of you guessed Pentagon.


Image 4: Cheverly

The fourth image shows the entrance to Cheverly station. This entrance is unique within the Metrorail system because at Cheverly passengers must cross up and over the old Pennsylvania Railroad freight line to access the station from the parking lot.

You can see the catenary poles left over from the days when the Pennsy ran electric freight trains, which narrows this down to one of the stations between Minnesota Avenue and New Carrollton. All other stations adjacent to railroads are accessed from below with the exception of Franconia-Springfield, but at Franconia the overpass connects to a parking garage and is only served by elevators.

Thirteen of you correctly guessed Cheverly.


Image 5: Anacostia

Last up is a view down the escalators at the south entrance to Anacostia Station. There are a number of clues here, all of which point to this being one of the system's six "unique" stations that don't fit into one of the 11 categories of Metro station design.

There were several clues that could have helped you narrow this down. The first is that the walls are vertical, which is unique to Anacostia and L'Enfant Plaza among the underground stations. Additionally, there are three side-by-side escalators which is a very rare setup for platform escalators. In this case, they're also off-center to make room for an elevator. Anacostia is unique in this regard.

If you look closely, you can also spot railings running along the edge of the platform. They exist because the platform here is more than 600 feet long to match the location of the two entrances. Only King Street and Anacostia have railings like this. Finally, the concrete structure above the escalators is the corner of the mezzanine structure, which is rotated 45 degrees relative to the platform.

Twelve of you got this one.

Thanks to everyone for playing! Great work. Stay tuned. We'll have five more images for you next Tuesday.

I'd also like to give a special thanks to Peter K for submitting photos. If you think you have what it takes, email your photos to whichwmata@ggwash.org.

How well do you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 38

It's time for the thirty-eighth installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of 5 stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?

This week, all 5 photos were submitted by reigning champion Peter K, who's scored perfectly every week since week 7.


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The answers will appear on Thursday. We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

Update: The answers are here.

Metro needs more space to park its trains

Later this year, Metro's fleet will begin to grow as the first 7000 series railcars arrive. Those cars will need places to park and for maintenance, so WMATA is planning to enlarge the yard at New Carrollton and build a new yard at Landover station. But the Landover facility has a serious downside: it might make development harder in the future.


Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr.

Currently, the New Carrollton Yard has room for 114 railcars. Metro hopes to more than double that capacity by building space to store 120 cars more. For the most part, the new tracks will be able to fit within the existing yard boundary, though the yard will need to grow slightly next to the Amtrak line.


Image from WMATA.

But the new tracks will displace a portion of the yard that is used for maintenance and work equipment. Those facilities will have to move under this plan, which is why the agency is proposing a new yard at Landover. The Landover yard won't hold passenger cars, but rather the work equipment evicted from New Carrollton.

Why Metro needs more yard space

The expansion is necessary for two reasons. The first is fairly straightforward: WMATA is buying new railcars, and a larger fleet needs more parking space. But Metro also needs storage in the right places to operate efficiently. Trains and train operators start and finish the day at rail yards. If there's not enough capacity at the yard at one end of the line, a train has to deadhead (run without passengers) all the way from the other end.

This is a problem for some systems which have only one yard. For example, in Los Angeles, the Red and Purple lines operate out of a rail yard near Union Station on the edge of downtown. In the mornings, trains start their runs downtown and head out to suburban areas. In the evenings, the last train leaves downtown long before the last train leaves the outer ends. It's the opposite of the pattern you'd expect.

In Metro's case, all of the lines have rail yards at each end or fairly close to the end. One exception is the Silver Line, though this will be remedied when the second phase opens since it includes a new yard northwest of Dulles Airport. The Largo end of the Blue Line just has some tail tracks extending past the station which can store a few trains, though I'm not sure how much of that capacity WMATA uses on a regular basis.


Graphic by the author. Data from Metro's Rail Fleet Management Plan.

One problem facing Metro is a structural imbalance in storage capacity. Right now, there's more existing and planned storage capacity on the west end of the system than the east. Greenbelt Yard is much larger than necessary for the Green Line (though the new 7000 series cars will be commissioned there). But it's not feasible to store railcars at Greenbelt and get them to the Red, Orange, Silver, or Blue lines, so that excess capacity isn't helpful.

Metro also hopes to expand the yard at Shady Grove, though they haven't released details about that proposal yet.

The Landover yard will cut off development opportunities

Unfortunately, there is a tradeoff with this plan. While the expansion at New Carrollton can mostly fit within the existing footprint, the new yard planned for Landover will occupy prime real estate just steps from the station.


Graphic from WMATA.

Prince George's County and the surrounding municipalities have long hoped to transform this station site into a mixed-use community. So far, that hasn't happened. The area is mostly industrial in nature, and surface commuter parking covers the area immediately surrounding the station. But as the region continues to grow, and with the Purple Line soon to start construction, the area will become more likely to develop.

The Landover station site already has little land you can walk to from the station because it isn't in a good location and lacks connections to the west. Giving over a third of the station site to a rail yard will dramatically cut down on the possibility of developing the site with a mixed-use, walkable community.

While the yard will largely occupy the north third of the parking lot, Metro will replace all the lost spaces with a parking garage. This is happening even though only 41% of parking spaces at Landover are used on the average day, and parking usage has dropped every year since 2011.

Metro didn't consider any other sites for the rail yard proposed for Landover. The environmental assessment only analyzed a build option (at Landover) and a no-build option. Metro likes this site because it's close to the other facilities at New Carrollton, is easy to connect to the existing tracks, and because the authority already owns the land.

But foreclosing on the possibility of transit-oriented development on the station site may doom Landover permanently to being one of the least walkable stations. On the other hand, it's even more important to find ways to increase Metro's storage capacity, and with hundreds of railcars coming off the assembly line, the clock is ticking.

Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 37

On Tuesday, we posted our thirty-seventh photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took five photos in the Metro system. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 27 guesses this week. Four of you got all five. Great work, Peter K, FN, Fran, and Mr. Johnson!


Image 1: Largo

The first image shows the access road leading to Largo Town Center station, which is unfortunately inaccessible to pedestrians. Customers arriving from the east on foot have to walk quite a distance out of their way to enter the station. Correction: Metro has constructed a sidewalk since my last visit. The main clue here is the bridge between the two parking garages, four levels above the platform. Twenty knew this one.


Image 2: Minnesota Avenue

This picture shows an inbound train leaving Minnesota Avenue. The catenary poles on the right are clues, though this isn't the Amtrak line, which peels off at Cheverly to head for Union Station; it's the former Pennsylvania Railroad freight line. It has catenary poles because even freight trains on the Pennsylvania were electrified between New York and Potomac Yard.

The sharp turn to the right is the clue that separates this from Landover and Deanwood. Another clue is the parked coal train visible at right. These trains are omnipresent along this section of the Orange Line. Seventeen guessed correctly.


Image 3: Friendship Heights

The third image proved trickier than I intended. This shows the Jenifer Street (southern) entrance to Friendship Heights, which is an elevator-only entrance. Several of you guessed Forest Glen, which has an elevator-only entrance as well. I assume you were tipped off by the "elevators" to trains sign.

Few stations have more than one elevator, so it was smart to guess one of those stations. But this entrance is unique to Friendship Heights. It's quite different from the entrances at Forest Glen and Rosslyn. Only nine figured this one out.


Image 4: Branch Avenue

I took this picture at Branch Avenue. This stop is one of four stations that has the "high peak" design. But you should be able to discount Franconia immediately since that station isn't in an open cut, and the ceiling is slightly different (we featured it in week 32). Suitland doesn't fit because that station only has a high concrete retaining wall on one side, not both.

Narrowing this down between Southern Avenue and Branch Avenue isn't easy, but Branch Avenue has one attribute that the other high peak stations don't have: The trapezoidal protrusions on the columns where the supports for the mezzanine and the ceiling intersect are unique to this station.

Thirteen got this one right. But if you guessed Southern Avenue, don't be ashamed; this was a hard clue.


Image 5: King Street

The final image depicts signage near King Street. Specifically the "to Metro" sign is intended to help riders transferring from the VRE/Amtrak platforms to Metro. This picture was taken from the southern sidewalk of King Street underneath the VRE tracks.

If you've never seen the sign, there were three main clues. The first is the ironwork to the left, which is pretty indicative of a railroad bridge. You can also see that it's a fairly narrow street. But the final clue was the sidewalk. The uneven, aged bricks should have helped you narrow this down to Alexandria's Old Town area. Fifteen knew this was King Street.

Thanks to everyone for playing! Great work. Stay tuned. We'll have five more images for you next Tuesday.

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