The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.

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. Heís a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer. 


Metro is proposing service cuts, again. Will riders ever see the benefits?

Metro has fallen and it can't get up. That's the reality facing riders, agency staff, local officials, and the WMATA Board of Directors. In yet another slap at riders, Metro is proposing service cuts to allow for the the work time necessary to fix the system. But will it make a difference?

Photo by Matt' Johnson on Flickr.

For the better part of a decade, Metro riders have faced deteriorating service, both in quality and quantity. Even bright spots, like the Silver Line opening, have been bittersweet, with the cannibalization of railcars for the new service leading to maintenance problems and train shortages across the system.

In the wake of the deadly 2009 crash at Fort Totten, WMATA started taking steps to bring the system back into a state of good repair.

The agency was up front with riders: repairs would take time, and they would be painful. The needed work would delay trains and detour riders. But it couldn't be helped. The only alternative was to let Metro fall apart at the seams.

Metro first asked customers to sacrifice reliable and frequent weekend service. Then the agency cut into weeknight service, increasing wait times and delaying trains. Midday service was slashed next, to give more time on the tracks.

More recently, the agency even began asking riders to sacrifice during peak hours, with round-the-clock SafeTrack work in particularly troublesome areas for weeks at a time. Late night service has been cut altogether for now, and even special event service has been nixed.

Yet after seven years, riders aren't seeing benefits. Trains still break down with unreasonable frequency. Emergency track repairs have become commonplace. Crowded trains and stations are par for the course, not because ridership is skyrocketing—in fact, it's falling—but because trains are infrequent and oft-delayed.

Metro said in 2009, and many times since, "bear with us. There will be some pain, but things will get better." But things aren't getting better. Riders aren't seeing service quality increase. There seems to be little to no benefit for the sacrifice riders have had to make, even after seven years.

And now, Metro is coming to riders again. If the agency doesn't get more time to work on the tracks, it says, the system will deteriorate. The only way for things to get better is to face another painful cut. This time, a permanent cut to late night service, extending the 12-month suspension necessitated by SafeTrack.

But this is an insult to riders. Not least of all because we have seen no evidence from WMATA to date that these cuts are the ones that will actually do the trick, or even what else beyond this it would take to do the trick.

I sadly expect that one year hence, the WMATA Board will come to riders again and ask for yet another service cut. It's a pattern that has become all too familiar after three quarters of a decade of the same.

I had a conversation recently where a person with transit experience correctly pointed out that cutting late night service is the least painful cut Metro could make. And that is true. I'd much rather lose service at 2:00 in the morning than 2:00 in the afternoon.

The issue is larger than that, though. This isn't the first cut Metro has made. Inside of rush hour, service quality and reliability is declining. Outside of rush hour, the frequent single-tracking and long waits are driving even the most dedicated of customers away.

This cut may be fairly innocuous as far as transit cuts go, but it's the thousandth cut for a Metro that is bleeding to death on the floor of the emergency room waiting room.

Today, the Metro Board is asking riders to weigh in on the proposed cuts to late night service. But I have no faith that accepting yet another cut is what it will take to get Metro back on its feet. Metro needs to stop the hemorrhaging of riders. The agency needs band-aids to stop the gushing, self-inflicted wounds it already has, not yet another stab wound.

Unfortunately, Metro has a track record here, and it doesn't bode well for the patient. Or those riders who rely on the region's transit system.


Without more information, riders shouldn't accept Metro late night cuts

In July, Metro proposed ending late-night service permanently to allow more time for maintenance beyond what it's getting during SafeTrack. To really weigh whether this is the best option, the public needs much more information than what Metro has made available to date.

Photo by Aimee Custis.

When SafeTrack started, Metro moved from closing at 3 am on weekends to closing at midnight every day, giving workers around eight extra hours for repairs each week. In late July, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said that Metro needed to permanently end its late-night service to give Metro more track time to do maintenance and repairs.

Metro is using an online survey to get public feedback on four proposals for different service cut configurations, and on Thursday it's hosting a marathon public hearing to get more input. It's also possible to submit free-form written comments though October 25 at 5 pm.

After that, the WMATA Board will vote on whether to approve one of the four proposals.

The public must have more information

To date, WMATA hasn't publicly shared its reasons for why it sees cutting late night service as the best way to do necessary maintenence. Or how much it will help. Or what will be accomplished with the additional work time.

Any more late-night closures should only happen after WMATA provides more information and accountability through concrete deliverables. Many advocates we've talked to have asked: instead of shutting down the whole system, couldn't Metro just follow a SafeTrack-like approach of shutting down late-night service in segments of the system? If not, why not?

Chicago, New York City, and New Jersey have all done temporary closures on isolated parts of their systems, which we know is far more efficient than continually doing track work for periods of only a few hours at night.

The mobility Metro provides is an essential service. Cuts cannot be taken lightly.

The sacrifices that Metro riders have been asked to make over the last seven years are not easy cuts to stomach. Less than a decade ago, Metro was a reliable system that was the foundation for building the region we know today.

The mass transit system's ability to quickly and efficiently deliver commuters to their downtown jobs, take residents to retail, entertainment, civic spaces, and take tourists to museums made it possible to build the sorts of neighborhoods and places that people are flocking to.

The transit villages of the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, the resurgence of Columbia Heights, the robust feeder bus ridership throughout the region; these are all things that would be impossible without Metro. Here, unlike in many parts of the country, transit is something nearly everyone uses at least some of the time. That transit culture was built over decades.

And much of Metro's ridership has been driven by people who are willing to live a car-lite or car-free lifestyle because they know that Metro will get them around not just for their work trip, but for most of the trips they need.

Metro service has been being dismantled since 2009, and it's imperiling the region we've built over decades. Metro is increasingly unreliable even during rush hour, and seems to be on the brink of ceasing to exist in the evenings and on weekends. Passengers face waits that can stretch to 25 or 30 minutes. And when the train does finally show up, it can be so overcrowded that it leaves customers on the platform to wait another half hour.

Asking riders to sacrifice their ability to travel on weekends can be acceptable, even to the car-free, for a short term. But as Metro's overhaul stretches toward a decade of inconvenience, many are rethinking that choice. And as car ownership increases, it makes it more difficult to build the types of places, like Clarendon, that we want more of. Even when it gets better, many of the households that have purchased a car in the intervening years will be unlikely to return to Metro.

Continuing late-night cuts could make sense temporarily, but not permanently

We learned in May that the way WMATA scheduled track work wasn't working, as there wasn't enough time to set up for maintenance, go through safety protocols to prepare the site, etc. and get its immense backlog of maintenance work done. The Federal Transit Administration and others did indeed recommend more track time for maintenance crews.

The cuts WMATA is proposing would give it more limited operating hours than any large US rail transit system, and at lower evening frequencies. Metro should learn from how other major US rail systems perform inspections and routine maintenance without shutting down the entire system. Clearly, other systems have figured this out. Why hasn't WMATA?

In other words, once the maintenance backlog is cleared, it's too much to ask the region to give up late-night service. Lots of people depend on late-night Metro service, and not because it's how they get home after a night on the down; Metro is the only option for many third shift workers and people with families.

Also, Metro needs to show it's using the track time it already has

Metro's core mission is to provide mobility to riders. Metro should exhaust every reasonable way to take care of its maintenance crisis without impacting service. And we need to know that it has done so.

When and only when Metro is making the most of what it has can it reasonably ask for more maintenance hours. People want to know that the sacrifice of late-night service will actually be put to good use.

Particularly in the wake of a May 6 incident where track workers couldn't use over half of their allotted 5-hour access block, what is going to be any different if workers get an additional eight hours of late-night track access per week?

What does that look like in terms of feedback to the WMATA Board? Before it approves late-night cuts, it should require proof that staff is actually at work on tracks at least 80% of the track time already available.

If extending late-night cuts is truly necessary, certain strings should be attached

Transit is critical to our region. It would be catastrophic to have WMATA fail. Our colleagues at the Coalition for Smarter Growth are proposing that if the WMATA Board is serious about turning the system around and doing what's best for the region, it could allow a 12 month extension of Metro closing at midnight. But they also say the Board should only approve a one-year extension if and only if that extension comes with the following conditions:

  • 12 month limit on late-night cuts
  • Hard, measurable maintenance goals for what to accomplish in that time. If targets aren't met, the late-night service cuts cannot be renewed for another 12 months
  • Quarterly reporting on track time used for maintenance. If they don't use at least 80% of available track time, service cuts cannot be renewed
  • Publicly-stated projection for when Metro service will be back to 2007 levels (or another target level of service)
  • Night owl bus service must be provided at no more than 20 minute headways on weekends to provide alternative mobility for late-night riders
Even if you don't agree with this list of the strings that should come with late-night cuts, you should speak up and say whatever you do think to the WMATA Board.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth has put together an editable email to the WMATA Board. You can send an email with their tool here.


Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 92

On Tuesday, we featured the ninety-second challenge to see how well you knew the Metro system. Here are the answers. How'd you do?

This week, we got 26 guesses. Sixteen got all five. Great work, Transport., Peter K, Robb, Justin..., Solomon, Steven Yates, Kevin M, Andy L, AlexC, Travis Maiers, MZEBE, Stephen C, J-Train-21, dpod, JamesDCane, and We Will Crush Peter K!

Image 1: Waterfront

The first image shows the entrance to Waterfront station. This station is in the center of the area cleared for urban renewal in the late 1950s. In the 1950s and 1960s, modernist buildings replaced rowhouses in Southwest. The building in the distance, 300 M Street SW, is typical of the style of buildings that make up Southwest Waterfront. In the foreground, the newly rebuilt plaza is another clue.

20 guessed correctly.

Image 2: Pentagon

The next picture looks down toward the Huntington/Franconia track at Pentagon. This is one of two split-level stations. Like at Rosslyn, here the inbound track is one level above the outbound track. This is necessary because the Blue and Yellow Lines diverge immediately north of the station, and the tracks need to cross on different levels.

While the southern end of Rosslyn station is very similar to Pentagon, there are two key differences. In this case, three things are missing that mean this can't be Rosslyn. First, at the outbound end of Rosslyn, there's a destination indicator sign that flashes either Vienna/Wiehle or Franconia depending on how the switch is set. At Pentagon, that sign is on the inbound end (upper level) and opposite the entrance (featured in week 41).

Additionally, Rosslyn includes a "welcome to Virginia" sign at the outbound end, the only state welcome sign in the system. Finally, from this angle at Rosslyn, you'd be able to see the interlocking signal just inside the tunnel on the right side. The light you see on the left wall is an emergency telephone blue light.

19 got it right.

Image 3: McPherson Square

The third photo features a sign at McPherson Square directing riders to the Vermont Avenue/White House exit. McPherson Square is the closest station to the White House, and signage inside the station directs riders to the correct exit.
23 knew the correct response.

Image 4: Largo

The fourth image shows a distant view of Largo station. The parking structure is somewhat distinctive, though similar to the one at College Park, which was built around the same time. However, the primary clue is the artwork outside the station, Largo Beacon. The sculpture is just to the left of the parking garage from this perspective, and we featured it in week 4.

23 guessed Largo.

Image 5: Shady Grove

The final image was taken in a stairwell at the southern garage at Shady Grove. This one was a bit trickier. Few stations have multiple garages, which should have helped you narrow this down. At Shady Grove, the older southern garage sits south of the eastern bus loop, and from this perspective, we can see the newer north garage. Additionally, just right of center, there's an idling Ride On bus, which may have helped you narrow this down to Montgomery County.

18 figured it out.

Thanks for playing. Great work! We'll be back in two weeks with another quiz.

Information about contest rules, submission guidelines, and a leaderboard is available at


Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 92

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

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun.

Please have your answers submitted by noon on Thursday. Good luck!

Information about contest rules, submission guidelines, and a leaderboard is available at


Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 91

On Tuesday, we featured the ninety-first challenge to see how well you knew the Metro system. Here are the answers. How'd you do?

This week, we got 44 guesses. 24 of you got all five. Great work, everyone!

Image 1: Georgia Avenue

The first image shows an entrance to Georgia Avenue station, viewed from the Park Place across the street. The primary clue here is the lozenge-shaped entrance pavilion. This style of entrance is only present at three stations, with Columbia Heights and Congress Heights rounding out the set.

Other clues included the acute intersection of Georgia and New Hampshire Avenues and the rowhouses of Pleasant Plains in the background. 37 got it right.

Image 2: Ballston

The second image shows the entrance at Ballston station. This canopy is fairly unique, though a similar style is used for the eastern entrance at Judiciary Square. The commuter store in the center provides another hint.

39 knew this one.

Image 3: Judiciary Square

The third photo was taken at Judiciary Square. While there's not a lot of direct evidence in the photo, the reflection in the water is of a very distinctive building: the National Building Museum. The iconic structure stands directly across from the eastern entrance to Judiciary Square, which has an uncovered escalator shaft.

40 guessed Judiciary Square.

Image 4: Rhode Island Avenue

Rhode Island Avenue station featured in our fourth picture. The station is visible at left, viewed here from the new pedestrian bridge linking the station to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The fencing on either side of the bridge is fairly distinctive, and that was the main clue.

The radio tower and the distant Capitol dome may have helped you narrow down the possibilities. 40 sussed out the right answer.

Image 5: Tenleytown

The last picture comes from Tenleytown. We featured a very similar photo in week 57, as it happens.

Tenleytown is the only Arch I or Arch II station where the elevator bypasses the mezzanine and goes straight to the platform. Because of this, there's a solitary faregate, TVM and exitfare machine at the south end of the platform.

29 came to the correct conclusion.

Thanks for playing. Great work! We'll be back in two weeks with another quiz.

Information about contest rules, submission guidelines, and a leaderboard is available at


Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 91

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

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun.

Please have your answers submitted by noon on Thursday. Good luck!

UPDATE: The answers are here.

Information about contest rules, submission guidelines, and a leaderboard is available at


Here's how DC's state-named avenues got their names

Earlier in the summer, we re-visited the reasoning behind why Washington, DC's street naming system. From A Street to Verbena Street and from Half to Sixty-Third, DC's lettered and numbered streets make it difficult to get lost with their logical progressions.

Photo by the author.

But DC's transverse diagonal avenues confound everyone from tourists to suburban motorists. Not only do they break all the grid rules, they even manage to break up the grid itself in many places, like H Street, NW at New York Avenue. And to make matters worse, they often skip across parks, rivers, even entire neighborhoods, before starting up again, sometimes even on a different heading.

Locals have mostly figured out where the avenues are, at least the major ones. Maryland residents use many of these broad streets as their connections to downtown, but a short street like North Dakota Avenue goes unnoticed by almost everyone outside the immediate neighborhood.

Penn. radiates from the Capitol
In fact, when the city was first established, the organized naming system extended to state-named avenues as well. It was not quite as intuitive as the numbered and lettered streets, but with only nineteen avenues, it was still easy to understand.

As I noted before, the plan of the city was meant to reflect the structure of the government. For that reason, the city's quadrants are centered on the Capitol Rotunda. The state-named avenues are no exception. Being the major streets of the city, L'Enfant's plan placed many of them so that they emanated from certain points. In this regard, they provided long unobstructed views toward the icons of our nascent government.

Yellow denotes sections which have disappeared.

From the Capitol, North Capitol Street stretches northward, followed in a clockwise direction by Delaware Avenue, Maryland Avenue, East Capitol Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, New Jersey Avenue, South Capitol Street, Delaware Avenue, the Mall, Pennsylvania Avenue, and New Jersey Avenue.

From the White House, Sixteenth Street forms the major axis. In fact, Thomas Jefferson intended it to become the Prime Meridian, which is where Meridian Hill Park gets its name. Moving clockwise, one encounters Vermont Avenue, New York Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, New York Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Connecticut Avenue.

Yellow denotes sections which have disappeared.

Today, some avenues are more important than others. This is due, in large part, to where it is they connect to, not any particular naming convention.

The grand avenue, home to everything from Inaugural Parades to festivals of all sorts, is Pennsylvania Avenue. Connecting the Legislative and Executive branches, it was always meant to be the heart of Washington. In the southeast, it continues as a major roadway toward central Prince George's County, Maryland.

Similarly, Connecticut, Georgia, and New York all are major thoroughfares to outlying parts of the region. Another important street is Wisconsin Avenue, running from M Street in Georgetown to the Beltway north of Bethesda; it was an important road long before the name was applied. As late as 1903, it was still called the Georgetown and Rockville Pike. This historic name is the basis for two streets in suburban Montgomery County: Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike, the straightened version.

Virginia @ 6th SW
Some feel that certain states got short shrift. Tiny Delaware has a fractured, relatively unimportant street. However, the main reason that it is less important today is because of its strategic importance as a transportation corridor. To the north, Amtrak, MARC, and Metro's Red Line trains use Delaware Avenue to enter the L'Enfant City. Similarly, Maryland and Virginia Avenues in Southwest and Southeast now have above-grade railway embankments carrying trains along streets intended to be grand public avenues.

But street-naming doesn't have anything to do with importance to the Revolution or the prestige of any one state, at least not directly. State names were assigned to avenues based on their geographic location within the United States.

For that reason, one found Georgia Avenue in the southernmost portion of the city. Running from what is now Fort McNair across the southern side of Capitol Hill, we know it today as Potomac Avenue. Near the northern edge of the city, the avenue named after the then-northernmost state, New Hampshire, passed through Washington and Dupont Circles, just as it does today.

Vermont joined the union in 1791 as the fourteenth state, while Kentucky joined in 1792. It was during these years that Washington was being laid out. For that reason, they both received places within the system. Tennessee gained statehood in 1796, and its avenue became the first glaring error. After all, Tennessee forms the southern boundary of Kentucky, yet Kentucky Avenue lies entirely south of Tennessee Avenue.

By the time Congress first met here in 1800, there were three diagonal avenues left to be named. Ohio and Indiana fit into the system well enough, but Louisiana was sorely out of place.

With the first nineteen states represented in the city, Washington ran out of avenues. Maps from the 1800s available on the Library of Congress' website show that Maine and Missouri had short avenues within the bounds of the Mall, but it is unclear exactly how all the new states were represented as they came on board.

In 1890, Boundary Street was renamed after the twenty-seventh state, Florida. Despite being farther south than any other state (it would remain so until 1959), it got the street forming the northern boundary of the city.

Yet by the time the twentieth century got going, Washington was expanding into the hills and dales above the Fall Line. As the street grid expanded, new avenues were added, and old ones obliterated. Around 1914, the citizens of Brightwood managed to get Brightwood Avenue renamed after Georgia. They had hoped to curry favor with senator Augustus Bacon, but he promptly died, and never had a chance to affect the fortunes of these suburban pioneers. The construction of the Federal Triangle complex in the 1930s eliminated Ohio's avenue and shortened what had been Louisiana Avenue. Louisiana's name itself had moved a few blocks east to a new street constructed as part of the changes brought by Union Station and Columbus Circle in 1907.

Today, one can still see some geographic order to the state-named avenues. However, much of that is due to the age of certain regions. After all, New England hasn't had a new state since number twenty-three, Maine, joined in 1820. For the most part, states on the East Coast can be found downtown. Alaska Avenue is the northernmost avenue (in its entirety). Mississippi, which is at least in the south, is the southernmost state-named avenue. But the similarities largely end there.

This post originally ran in 2009, but since the history hasn't changed, we thought we'd share it again!


Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 90

On Tuesday, we featured the ninetieth challenge to see how well you knew the Metro system. Here are the answers. How'd you do?

This week, we got 27 guesses. Nine of you got all five. Great work, Peter K, J-Train-21, Stephen C, Solomon, AlexC, JamesDCane, dpod, Travis Maiers, and We Will Crush Peter K!

Image 1: L'Enfant Plaza

The first image features a Metro pylon directing passengers to the western entrance to L'Enfant Plaza. This entrance is inside the L'Enfant Plaza shopping concourse, and isn't the easiest to find from the street. This pylon bridges the gap between the traditional M-capped pylon on D Street and the mall entrance.

The main clues for this image are the brutalist buildings in the backgound. They're very iconic and should have been easiily recognizable as parts of the L'Enfant Plaza complex. 20 got it right.

Image 2: Grosvenor

The second image shows the pedestrian bridge over Tuckerman Lane connecting Grosvenor station to the Strathmore Arts Center. The curve of this bridge was a clue, since few pedestrian bridges in the system are curved. The two obvious choices are New Carrollton and Grosvenor, which have bridges like this.

However, the bridge at New Carrollton has a sharper curve. The colored lights here are also very distinctive, but if you haven't used the bridge at night, that might not have been helpful. 11 figured it out nonetheless.

Image 3: Braddock Road

The third image shows some new-ish signage at Braddock Road. We discussed these new platform decals in a post several months ago. This is the only station in the system with these markings.

Additional clues include the Alexandria Peak roof style (only King Street has the same canopy) and a blue marker on the train's destination sign. 14 figured it out.

Image 4: Deanwood

This picture shows the north end of the platform at Deanwood. The surroundings here should help you eliminate all the other possibilities. The catenary masts in the background mean this must be one of the Orange Line stations on the eastern end of the line. But the lack of wires eliminates Landover and New Carrollton.

The island platform eliminates Cheverly. The houses mean that this can't be Minnesota Avenue, since DC 295 is just west of the station. That leaves Deanwood. 21 worked out the logic correctly.

Image 5: Naylor Road

The final image shows a view from the platform at Naylor Road. The perspective here means this is an elevated station. The buildings in the distance, Lynhill Condominiums, were another clue.

Aerial images might have helped you narrow this down, by locating the bus loop and park-and-ride. 18 came to the correct conclusion.

Great work, everyone. Thanks for playing!

We're taking a break until the end of September. So take some time to study up and we'll see you on September 27 with week 91.

Information about contest rules, submission guidelines, and a leaderboard is available at


Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 90

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

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun.

Please have your answers submitted by noon on Thursday. Good luck!

UPDATE: The answers are here.

Information about contest rules, submission guidelines, and a leaderboard is available at


Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 89

On Tuesday, we posted our eighty-ninth challenge to see how well you knew Metro. I took photos of five Metro stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

This week, we got 35 guesses. Nine got all five correct. Great work, Peter K, JamesDCane, Travis Maiers, AlexC, Solomon, PLKDC, Stephen C, dpod, and We Will Crush Peter K!

Image 1: Dupont Circle

The first image was fairly easy to solve (and all of you got it right!). It shows the large bowl where the northern escalators emerge at 20th and Q Streets NW, which is the northern entrance of the Dupont Circle station. The rim of the bowl is visible, as are the plantings along either side. Those main clues helped you narrow down the choice. We've featured this entrance in week 22, week 33, week 38, week 40, and week 80.

Like all of the other pictures featured in this week's set, this image has a set of three side-by-side escalators.

Image 2: Huntington

The second image shows a view of the platform escalators and inclined elevator at Huntington's southern entrance. There are two unique features visible here. The first is the inclined elevator, which is one of only a few in the country. The other is the pair of narrow escalators on either side of the regular-width one.

The slanted glass roof is also a clue, though it's not unique since a similar one exists at West Hyattsville.

Week 12 and week 14 both showcase these features. 29 of you figured it out.

Image 3: Crystal City

The third picture shows the main exit from Crystal City station. The primary clue here is the "VRE Trains" sign, which directs customers to a doorway just out of frame to the right. The connection to VRE is made by way of the underground Crystal City pedestrian network, which intersects this Metro corridor just prior to the escalators pictured.

There are several VRE connection points to Metro, but only three are underground stations: Union Station, L'Enfant Plaza, and Crystal City. Union Station never has three side-by-side escalators, so it can't be that station. And while L'Enfant Plaza does have this arrangement, there's no VRE signage like this nor any electrical lockers in the corridor.

That leaves Crystal City, as 20 of you surmised.

Image 4: Farragut North

The fourth image was taken in the northernmost mezzanine at Farragut North station. I like the brutalist coffered ceiling, which mirrors the standard waffle vault treatment. Despite the design harmony, this type of mezzanine ceiling is only present at two stations, with the other being Stadium/Armory.

The three side-by-side escalators lead down to the northern end of the platform, taking up most of the platform's width (which is why escalators are usually just singles or doubles when going to the platform). We featured these escalators from the other side in week 22.

Stadium/Armory also has three escalators like this, however, they descend into the vault through an opening that nearly reaches the top of the vault. The pictured escalators have the lower sloped roof above them, meaning this must be Farragut North.

16 got the gold.

Image 5: Federal Triangle

The final image shows a set of three short escalators at Federal Triangle. This is part of the corridor leading from the station's mezzanine under 12th Street to the portico of the Ariel Rios Building. The station is located under 12th Street, but the street escalators are located about 150' west. Along this corridor, there's a short rise that these escalators climb. These are the shortest escalators in the Metro system and are therefore quite distinctive.

15 came to the correct conclusion.

Thanks for playing! We'll be back August 23rd with another quiz.

Information about contest rules, submission guidelines, and a leaderboard is available at

Support Us
DC Maryland Virginia Arlington Alexandria Montgomery Prince George's Fairfax Charles Prince William Loudoun Howard Anne Arundel Frederick Tysons Corner Baltimore Falls Church Fairfax City