Greater Greater Washington

How well do you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 45

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

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

Nation's first bicycle HOT lanes planned for Mt. Vernon Trail

The National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) have announced a new partnership to construct the nation's first bicycle High Occupancy/Toll Express Lanes on the Mount Vernon Trail between Rosslyn and Mount Vernon.

Artist's rendering showing how high occupancy vehicles will benefit from enhanced capacity. Image by Peter Dovak.

The all-electronic HOT lanes will require construction of a second path parallel to the existing trail. Once completed, each path will carry one-way mixed traffic (runners, walkers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, and other self-propelled vehicles) on the right, with a left lane set aside for high occupancy vehicles or for users paying a variable toll.

Local leaders and transportation experts hailed the move as a way to relieve congestion on key arteries without digging into the already-strained National Park Service operating budget. NPS spokesperson Val O. C. Pede said that congestion at several key junctions along the trail would go from a Level of Service rating of "F" to an "A" or "B-."

The construction and operation would be funded by Trechiant Ventures, a partnership of bicycle manufacturers Giant, Trek, and Bianchi, who are developing bicycles designed specifically for such facilities.

The HOT lanes will not be separated from regular traffic by bollards or barricades, but will instead rely on strict enforcement. All HOT lane users will be required to use an E-ZPass, just as they would in motor vehicles.

NPS ranger stations, local Whole Foods stores, and participating bike shops will offer special clips to attach transponders to riders' helmets. The lanes will be free for High Occupancy Vehicles using an E-ZPass Flex, including tandem bicycles, bicycles with children in trailers, and joggers practicing for wife carrying races.

Park Rangers will be stationed at the side of the trail with special equipment to detect the number of riders in or on the vehicle, and proper E-ZPass Flex settings.

Rollerbladers will be required to pay double, by strapping one E-ZPass transponder to each of their skates. Bicycle mechanics will also be stationed every two miles to clear the lanes of any breakdowns.

Toll rates are expected to vary between 25/mile and $1.00/mile, which would make the Rosslyn to King Street corridor a competitive alternative to Metro's Blue Line. As with the I-495 and I-95 Express Lanes, there is no ceiling on the price. The pricing will be adjusted to maintain a guaranteed 15 mph speed for cyclists, which is also the maximum speed for the trail.

Neighboring jurisdictions hailed the announcement. Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey suggested that "VDOT's enthusiastic participation in this exciting public private partnership makes bicycle HOT lanes the perfect, low-cost-to-us replacement for the canceled Columbia Pike Streetcar."

Alexandria Town Crier understudy Hugh G. Pannier suggested that the city's new waterfront plans would be well-served by additional bicycle capacity along the waterfront, but that the city might demand that signage use a more period-appropriate typeface.

Mayor Bowser announces new "Funiculator" initiative

This morning at a press conference in Foggy Bottom, Mayor Bowser announced a proposal for a new method of getting commuters across the Potomac. Under her plan, the District Department of Transportation will construct a pair of inclines across the river to link the Kennedy Center with Rosslyn.

Rendering from DDOT.

Citing the over-capacity Metro tunnel under the river between Rosslyn and the District, Mayor Bowser called the inclines "an ideal solution to giving commuters a refreshing alternative to Metro." Additionally, the new line will get transit riders closer to major destinations like the State Department and the Kennedy Center.

The line would be built on a large A-frame type structure over the river. The tall structure is necessary because inclines only work on steep slopes. Riders using the service would be required to change vehicles at a station at the apex, but the transfer will be a seamless walk across the platform.

The Bowser Administration hopes to eventually build other inclines around the city, and they've decided to name this type of service "Funiculator." The vehicles will be painted red and yellow, to match the popular paint scheme adorning Circulator buses, streetcars, taxicabs, bikeshare, and pogoshare vehicles.

Internal documents from DDOT refer to the first line as the Funicular Aerial Initial Line. However, based on a suggestion from the Operatic Director at the Kennedy Center, Claire-Annette Joueur, the city has decided to call this first line "Funiculi Funicula."

Opponents voice skepticism

While some residents are skeptical of this new mode, officials in the administration downplayed the criticism, citing incline operations in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, where the services have proven to be a vital part of the transportation network and have generated unquantifiable amounts of development.

On the other hand, some opponents have already emerged. Many cities, like Cincinnati, ripped out their inclines in the post-war era, replacing them with more modern buses. One organization known for opposing government spending, the Federal Area Association for Restrained Taxpaying, has come out strongly against the project. Their president Hilda Klyme derided the proposal as "incline decline."

Other organizations are more positive. The Committee of 100 appears to have granted tacit support to the concept. When asked about the tall structure and its impact on viewsheds, the Committee's chair, Seymour Skeiz, said, "The beauty of these inclines is that while they're cable-drawn, the wire is built into the trackway instead of being suspended above the vehicle."

In fact, the Committee is somewhat enthusiastic that the District may expand the Funiculator initiative beyond the Funiculi Funicula Line, because they would like to see the proposed aerial gondola line between Rosslyn and Georgetown replaced with a mode that does not require overhead wires.

Federal approval and other questions aren't answered yet

Sources close to the administration are worried, however, about opposition from the Commission for Fine Arts. They're likely to insist on expensive design treatments like marble columns on the structure to help Funiculi Funicula better fit into the federal landscape.

Some questions remain unanswered. At the moment, the District has yet to determine whether the line will use modern vehicles or whether the funicular will be a so-called "heritage" operation like the lines in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

The city will need to procure four vehicles to operate the service. Because of "Buy America" requirements, the number of vendors is extremely limited. To save money, rumor has it that DC may go in on a car order with the city of Magic Mountain, California, which is planning to replace the vehicles on their line to the top of Samurai Summit.

Mayor Bowser has not yet made details public about the financing of the project. However, some sources suspect that funding for the line may come from the District's streetcar program, which has been recently facing cutbacks.

The Federal Aviation Administration may also be a hurdle, since they will have to authorize an over-river structure. Funiculi Funicula will sit under the flight path for airplanes approaching National Airport from the north. However, the FAA has approved other tall structures in the area, including in nearby Rosslyn, so this may not be an insurmountable obstacle.

Next steps will come in 2016

The fact that Funiculi Funicula has made it to this point is largely a testament to the hard work of Ivan Haas of the Funicular Operators Association of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Haas has been tirelessly promoting inclines as a cheap method of mass transit for over three decades. It appears the District is the first government jurisdiction to take Haas at his word.

Over the next few months, the District Department of Transportation will start installing the guideway over the Potomac. Construction is expected to start sometime this summer. In early 2016, the agency will begin to work on designing the project and undertaking the necessary environmental review procedures.

So far, District officials have been tight-lipped about a projected opening date for the project, however Mayor Bowser indicated that it could open by December 2015. Or 2016. Or if not by then, then certainly by the end of 2017. But definitely by the end of 2018. Probably.

Chevy Chase commemorates amphipod on town seal

The Town of Chevy Chase's Town Council has voted to add the Hay's Spring amphipod, a tiny, shrimp-like creature that may or may not live near the adjacent Capital Crescent Trail, to its town seal.

The old Chevy Chase town seal (left) and updated seal (right).

"We're glad to celebrate this totally real, authentic part of the Town of Chevy Chase's heritage by including the majestic amphipod on our town seal," said mayor Kathy Strom in a press conference this morning.

The Hay's Spring amphipod will join other symbols of Chevy Chase on the town seal, including its historic houses, lush tree canopy, and ample bank statements. Town residents say the critter, whose alleged habitat may or may not be in the path of the proposed Purple Line light rail between Bethesda and New Carrollton, is an integral part of the town's heritage.

"The amphipod has probably been a part of Chevy Chase history for centuries," said Chevy Chase town historian Cornelius X. Hollowood V. "Records show that when the Native Americans created the trail now known as Wisconsin Avenue, they may or may not have stepped on amphipods along the way."

When Chevy Chase was first developed at the turn of the 20th century, lushly illustrated real estate ads may or may not have included visual references to something that looked like an amphipod. A Washington Post story from 1929 notes that Montgomery County police broke up a raucous Chevy Chase house party that may or may not have disturbed amphipods that could have been nearby and were possibly sleeping.

As a nod to the amphipod's translucence, the amphipod on the town seal will be rendered with clear paint. "The amphipod is so delicate and light-reflective, you can look directly at one and it's as if it isn't even there," says biologist Dee Forestation. "It truly is a sight to behold."

"It's about time that Chevy Chase acknowledged its small, shrimp-like inhabitants, which truly do exist," said resident Monet Oliver D'Place, adding, "unlike Purple Line riders, which only exist in the Maryland Transit Administration's fallacious projections."

In a separate vote, the Town Council narrowly defeated a proposal to make the town animal the unicorn.

Breakfast links: Never gonna give you up

Photo by Sonny Abesamis on Flickr.
Never gonna let you down: WMATA has finally selected a new general manager, handpicked by MDOT chief Pete Rahn and Mayor Muriel Bowser from the cube farm at Spirit Airlines. The young, inexpensive hire has vowed to turn around WMATA's finances, starting with a bag fee for rush hour commuters.

You know the rules and so do I: In an effort to shore up WMATA's finances, the WMATA board has voted to replace all of its train operators with accountants. The agency also announced that, because of the change, all system maps will be replaced with spreadsheets.

Never gonna tell a lie: UPS announced that it will cease delivering packages. The company said that it will now focus on its core business, illegal parking. When asked how they will continue making money with a focus on parking, a spokesman said, "Volume!"

Never gonna say goodbye: Residents seek a wilderness designation for the Takoma Metro parking lot to save the lot's native cars from the threat of residential development. Advocates claim that an endangered species of invisible Hays Springs Amphipod have also taken up residence in the lot.

Never gonna hurt you: As part of Mayor Bowser's Vision Zero plans, the DC Council will ban bananas and restrict all vehicle use to vehicles with 50cc engines within the District.

We've known each other so long: Residents and business owners on H Street are recounting tales of a strange sight, a ghost trolley that carries no passengers but glides along the street night after night. Residents claim that its bells seem to hang in the air for years, and the unlucky souls who stumble onto it from bars now ride it forever.

Never gonna run around: Montgomery County is providing space for protesters in a far corner of a mostly empty parking lot in Bethesda. Officials are working with the local police to provide a space for protests without disrupting residents' lives.

Never gonna desert you: Prince George's Council has voted to rename the West Hyattsville Metro station to "Prince George's Gateway." The Council feels that the name will help spur development by better evoking a sense of place for the area.

Never gonna make you cry: The National Capital Planning Commission investigated whether it is humanly possible to build to fifteen stories. The NCPC explored issues such as ladder height, whether the building would block out the sun, and if the air is too thin.

And...: The Commission of Fine Arts provides feedback. ... Study finds that studies don't change attitudes about development. ... DC is about to do that thing that New York already did only better.

Muriel Bowser promises to finish the DC streetcar from Georgetown to Ward 7

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser gave the annual State of the District address Tuesday night. Among many other statements, one caught the eye of most reporters, people on Twitter, and others: She has definitively decided to finish the main east-west streetcar line.

Image from Muriel Bowser.

DDOT director Leif Dormsjo made something of a stir when he told the DC Council that all options were on the table for the streetcar including scrapping it entirely. But it's now totally clear that this option, while perhaps truly on the table, is not on said metaphorical table any longer.

Further, the line will stretch to Georgetown in the west and "downtown Ward 7" in the east (and, presumably, to a Metro station). Such a line will be far more useful than just the "starter segment" that has been built. Plans always called for this to be just one piece of a line stretching across the District, and now that will be the policy of a third consecutive administration.

Bowser did not, however, commit to building any more streetcar lines. While DDOT's former plan was compelling, the agency has not yet demonstrated it can build a citywide network of streetcars. It may indeed be sensible to try to make one line work very well before moving too quickly to build more.

To make the line work well, it should have dedicated lanes for a considerable portion of its length. There are already plans to rebuild K Street from Mount Vernon Square to Washington Circle with dedicated transit lanes for a streetcar. But if the streetcar sits in traffic around Mount Vernon Square, between that square and Union Station, and along K into Georgetown, it won't be as valuable of a transportation facility as it could be.

Advocates will need to push DDOT to really study dedicated lanes and other methods of ensuring the streetcar is actually a good way to get to and from downtown instead of the novelty some critics fear.

Topic of the week: Our favorite projects (from other places)

There's a lot to admire when you travel, and it's fun to observe how other cities achieve function and beauty. This week, we asked our contributors "What city planning or transit projects have caught your eye while traveling, and why?"

View from a hill overlooking Guanajuato, Mexico. Photo by Elina Bravve.

As might be expected, many contributors were inspired by other cities' transit systems, primarily overseas and mostly in Europe. Places with lots of active public space and bike infrastructure were popular as well. First, transit:

Jacques Arsenault was wowed by Istanbul's transit network:

I enjoyed Istanbul's streetcar system that goes up hills at least as steep as Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues, changing my perception of what is (at least, technically) possible for streetcars. Most of the streetcars run on dedicated track in the middle of the road.

Neil Flanagan was impressed with the way Vienna has worked its transit infrastructure into the city:

Even the elevated portions of the U-Bahn were great. They were attractive, they fit in to the city fabric, and they were actually really quiet. These aren't the loud, dark 'Ls' in Chicago and they didn't create useless highway underpass spaces like in Tysons. Some arches have been adapted to host stores and the bridges over major streets feel like gateways. It's possible to make elevateds good for cities.
Agnes Artemel talked about Munich, another city with an impressive streetcar network:
There's a wonderful streetcar system in Munich that makes it easy to get to the entire downtown, museum areas, and a number of parks. The streetcars run in both mixed traffic and on dedicated lanes, and the cars are modern and easy to get on. There are one day and multi-day passes available, and fare collection doesn't slow down boarding because everyone is on the honor system to have previously bought a pass. I spent a half day just riding the streetcars wherever they went and taking pictures out the window or at a station.
Artemel also gave shout outs to pedestrian-only streets in many French downtowns, Paris's Berges de Seine project which activates spaces along the river banks, and easy bike rentals at European train stations.

Ned Russell touted two ongoing rail transit improvement projects, Denver's FasTracks and London's Crossrail:

I like FasTracks because the city has really coupled urban development with the massive build out of the system, especially around Union Station in downtown. I remember the area being empty in 2006, and now it's a hopping neighborhood with a lot of people going there.

I think the airport line, which is a fully electrified commuter rail connecting Union Station to Denver International Airport, could signal a change in the way a lot of Denver residents view the region's burgeoning rail system.

As for Crossrail, I love the fact that a city the size and scope of London is willing to spend about 15 billion (more than $20 billion) on a new rail system that acts as an express subway in town and a commuter rail outside town, all while not running down the median of freeways as so many of our systems do. This is what New York, DC and Boston all need: commuter rail systems that really run end-to-end across the region and not just into downtown.

Russell also likes that the Chicago Transit Authority puts secure bike parking inside of subway and 'L' stations, and wishes WMATA would do the same. "If Metro added bike parking inside, say, the massive and empty mezzanine at Mt Vernon Square, I'd be much more likely to lock my bike there and leave it," he says.

Accommodating bikes on transit means doing more than simply allowing them, noted Jonathan Krall. He cited San Francisco's BART, which has no restrictions on the time of day bikes can be carried onto trains, as an example. Steve Seelig agreed: "There's a huge gap in Metro policy with the rush hour bike ban. Seriously, I would ditch my car if I could use the system during rush hour."

Tracey Johnstone noted another positive subway innovation, this one from north of the border:

Toronto is introducing subway trains where there are no divisions between cars. Passengers who worry about crime feel safer, as do those who suffer from claustrophobia. And there are no seats lost to driving stations in every car.
"I liked the way each stop in the Seoul subway had a name and a three-digit number," David Cranor said. "The first digit told you which line you were on, and the next two which station. It eliminated the need to count how many stops you had to go, and put things in a language everyone understands." Matt Johnson noted that MARTA in Atlanta tried something similar.

Portland, Oregon's aerial tram is "a great example of a unique transit mode," said Kelli Raboy. "Yes, it's a tourist attraction, but it also seems surprisingly effective at serving the nearby university, hospitals, and residential areas. My favorite part of the tram is actually the free and well-used bicycle valet next to the station."

Portland's aerial tram. Photo by Kelli Raboy.

Our region's next new rail transit line could learn a lot from a similar line that just opened in Minnesota, said Adam Froehlig:

I look at the new Green Line in Minneapolis/St. Paul and see a lot of potential lessons to be learned for the Purple Line, especially with regards to the College Park campus and along University Boulevard. They include the design going through campus, what to do regarding pedestrians crossing the tracks on campus, and the streetscape.
Moving on to examples of public spaces, Mitch Wander cited a European model:
The street markets throughout Valencia, Spain provide an amazing alternate use of street space, a great place to shop, and an entertaining walking experience. Many neighborhoods have a designated day of the week on which blocks are closed to vehicular traffic. For several hours on that day, people of all ages wander around shopping, browsing and socializing.
Paris has created engaging public spaces for kids, noted Abigail Zenner:
When I visited Place de la Republique, there was a kiosk that had toys and games for kids. There were also little movable chairs. The other thing they rolled out last summer was bikeshare for children. It was limited to recreation areas but was such a cool idea.
Another country whose cities have great public gathering spots is Mexico. Elina Bravve explained:
In Mexico City, they close one of the main roads in the city, Paseo de la Reforma, to vehicle traffic on Sundays. The street fills up with bicyclists, joggers, roller bladers, dance activities, dog walking groups, and lots of family-friendly activities. There are also bikeshare bikes (Eco Bici) available for rent.

Also in Mexico City, I noticed some very cool architecture in Chapultepac Park. One of the best spots was Libreria Porrua, an indoor/outdoor bookshop overlooking the park lake, where folks were renting paddle boats for the afternoon.

Finally, Guanajuato is a very pedestrian-friendly city. It's full of green plazas connected by very narrow streets, which aren't ideal for driving. Instead, there's a series of underground tunnels throughout the city that moderates traffic, diverting it from the historic center of town. I learned post-trip that these tunnels were created to stop flooding from a nearby River, then converted to roads at a later date.

Mexico City's Paseo de la Reforma. Photo by Elina Bravve.

On the bike front, Portland—the city with the highest rate of bicycle commuting in the country—impressed a lot of people. "Where most cities end shared paths at intersections, dumping cyclists into crosswalks, this ramp in Portland delivers cyclists into a bike lane in advance of the intersection," wrote Jonathan Krall. "For a cyclist planning to turn left at the intersection, this is a big help. For a cyclist proceeding straight, it is much more visible to other traffic and much safer."

Ending of a bike lane with a ramp in Portland. Photo by Jonathan Krall.

Peyton Chung's shared observations on a more general planning theme:

Cities like Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Montreal, and San Francisco have vast areas of three- to five-story walk-up residential buildings, with many miles of walkable retail streets connecting them. Even in cities without a long tradition of flats, many of the livelier neighborhoods (like Ghent in Norfolk and University City in west Philadelphia) tend to be those where flats, rather than rowhouses, predominate. Now, some New Urbanist architects are talking about these housing types as the "Missing Middle" of density.

But thanks to the recent "pop-up" controversy, there will probably never be any in DC. Columbia Pike was intended to have mostly four- to six-story buildings, but without a streetcar that won't happen, either.

Have you noticed great planning and design in other cities? Tell us about your favorites in the comments!

Play Pac-Man on the street grid

Each year right around this time, Google adds some joke features to its products. Today, Google Maps just got a "Pac-Man" mode, where you can turn any street grid into a little pellet-eating, ghost-chasing game.

Pac-Man around downtown DC.

Depending where you pick, the game can be really hard or easy. Good luck winning a round around Dupont Circle.

Pac-Man around Dupont Circle.

The game ignores dead-end streets (since you can't escape if a ghost traps you there), so if you pick a neighborhood that's almost all cul-de-sacs, it'll say you can't play Pac-Man there. Another disadvantage of unwalkable street designs?

What are some of the best spots you can find for a fun Pac-Man game around the Washington area?

You don't need a car to run a successful small business

Owning a small business can be tough, but going car-free doesn't have to make it any harder. My wife and I have lived in DC without a car for four years and we're making our small business work, even with places to go and products to deliver.

CHIQs team. All photos by the author.

We run CHIQS, a local artisan food business that produces baked chickpea snacks. You might have seen our product at Glen's Garden Market, Localteria, or on the Nicely App.

Admittedly, choosing transportation options that are convenient, affordable, and sustainable for our small business requires a little more thought than doing it in our day-to-day lives outside of business, but it's still very possible.

We chose a kitchen we can access car-free

Food businesses are legally required to operate out of a commercial kitchen. When we started CHIQS last year, we were committed to staying car-free, so our first challenge was finding a kitchen accessible without a car.

After reviewing our options, we chose Union Kitchen, a culinary incubator in NoMa. Union Kitchen has great resources to help us produce our product and services to help us grow our business, which is important.

But equally important for us was that it's near the Metropolitan Branch Trail, a Metro station, and a Capital Bikeshare station, making it easy for us to commute back and forth from our home in Logan Circle.

Union Kitchen's emphasis on building community and supporting its members was the deciding factor for us, but the accessibility of the kitchen was essential. If we were starting our search today, we'd have more options to choose from, as food incubators have opened up in transit- and bike-friendly Edgewood and Adams Morgan.

Our first challenge: farmer's markets

When we initially began the food business, we sold freshly-made, gluten-free flatbread sandwiches at the Columbia Heights and CityCenter Farmer's Markets. We had to transport multiple stoves, tables, a tent, and a cooler to and from the markets each week.

The CHIQS (formerly Seasonal Socca) team at the Columbia Heights farmer's market.

While we would normally get to Columbia Heights and CityCenter using our own bikes, Bikeshare, MetroBus, Car2Go, or walking, needing to transport all of that of heavy equipment definitely shrunk our car-free options. The best solution we found was UberXL, which could fit both of us and our equipment. Many drivers even offered to assist us with unloading.

Wholesale orders and grocery stores

Today, for wholesale orders close to the kitchen, we deliver by foot, bicycle, or Metro. For larger orders, we use Union Kitchen's distribution program. As part of the program, Union Kitchen owns one truck and distributes products for 40 different businesses to 35 different stores all directly from the kitchen, which is certainly a big help.

Focusing distribution on local groceries stores helps, too. Stores like Glen's Garden Market and Each Peach, among others, put a strong emphasis on stocking local products, which helps businesses like ours do more sales in a smaller geographical footprint. Operating a business car-free has forced us to focus on stores within a smaller area, but we have made it work in further-flung locations. For example, we took the T2 bus to the Market at River Falls in Potomac, Maryland to do a sampling of our product there.

Car-free makes good (business) sense for us

When we started our business, we were concerned that we would have to sacrifice our values of sustainability and car-free lifestyle to build an economically viable business. Instead, by selecting a transit- and bike-accessible commercial kitchen space and taking advantage of a system that makes it easy to share a distribution truck, we can operate our business in line with our personal values.

In doing so, we also avoided some of the large capital expenditures of traditional food businesses. That's allowed us to spend our resources on developing new products, working with a designer on branding and packaging, and sampling and marketing our product to new customers. In turn, our business has been more successful with fewer costs.

Plus, a central part of our message is that not only is our product a healthy snack, but that we produce and distribute it in a way that is healthy for the environment and the surrounding community. All of our employees are DC residents who walk or take public transportation to work, hired through the District's Project Empowerment Program. Being car-free ourselves feeds into that philosophy even more.

In the future

Going car-free has worked thus far, but we do face new challenges as we grow in volume and expand our reach. We will have to make tough decisions about whether or not to expand into new markets in different regions of the country, or to develop more products to sell in the Washington, DC area. We will also likely outgrow Union Kitchen someday soon, and may need to find an even bigger facility accessible without a car. But we're committed and optimistic that we'll be able to keep things up car-free!

Think you know Metro's neighborhoods? This quiz might surprise you

Yesterday, PlanItMetro posted maps showing what's within walking distance of each Metro station. Check them out (and maybe read up on what walk sheds are and how they differ across the region), then take our quiz to test what you know.

A map of the area around the Columbia Heights Metro station that's easily walkable. Images from WMATA.

1. Which of these stations has the most jobs within walking distance?

U Street
Pentagon City

2. Which of these stations has the fewest jobs within walking distance?

Medical Center
Federal Triangle

3. Which of these stations has the most jobs that are nearby, but not within walking distance?

Van Ness
West Falls Church

4. Which of these stations has the most households within walking distance?

Dupont Circle
Silver Spring
Columbia Heights
Court House

5. Which of these stations has the fewest households within walking distance?

Friendship Heights
Pentagon City
Crystal City
Georgia Avenue-Petworth

6. How many households live within walking distance of Metro?


7. Which of these stations has the lowest Walk Score?

Morgan Boulevard
Fort Totten
Arlington Cemetery
Van Dorn Street

8. Which of these areas has the smallest area within walking distance?

West Hyattsville
Southern Avenue
National Airport


1. U Street might not have many high-rise office buildings, but the medium-density neighborhood does have 9,034 jobs within walking distance. Logan Circle's density isn't just for residents: its lack of parking lots and high street connectivity mean that it also has plenty of economic opportunities nearby.

2. Federal Triangle, the very heart of the federal bureaucracy that built Metro to bring commuters into the city, has fewer jobs nearby than the three big edge cities it's grouped with. (That's partially because PlanItMetro's assessment is for non-overlapping walk sheds. This is why Federal Triangle has so few jobs: they're assigned to neighboring sheds.) Medical Center may not look like much from Wisconsin Avenue, but its 32,473 nearby jobs put it in a league with several Downtown DC stations.

3. At Franconia-Springfield, 92% of the nearby jobs aren't within walking distance. Springfield Town Center is beyond a half-mile walk, and the new FBI headquarters site even the site Virginia is promoting for the FBI is cut off from the station by a ravine. (At Branch Avenue, 96% of nearby jobs are outside the walk shed.)

Franconia-Springfield walk shed.

4. Columbia Heights just edges out Dupont Circle for this title, 10,842 to 10,636. Relatively low-rise Court House has the highest household concentration outside the District, with 8,100 within walking distance.

5. It's Friendship Heights, although all of these have between 4,071 and 4,623 households within walking distance. High rises don't always mean high residential density, especially if there are lots of offices and shops mixed in. Crystal City probably has a higher density, but its walk shed is also constrained by the George Washington Parkway.

6. 190,631. Contrary to what those ubiquitous "Steps to Metro!" real-estate listings might tell you, just 9% of the 2,091,301 households in the metro area live within a ten-minute walk of Metro.

7. Morgan Boulevard has a paltry Walk Score of 6. Even Arlington Cemetery's is somehow 15. Twenty five Metro stations are in locations with a Walk Score that's "car-dependent," and just 30 are in places deemed a "Walker's Paradise."

8. Landover. Hemmed in by a railroad and US 50 on one side and by its own parking lot and an industrial park on the other, its walk shed covers a mere 80 acres. That's not fair to the almost 1,000 households, mostly on the other side of 50, who are less than half a mile away but can't easily reach the station.

Landover walk shed.

How did you do?

0-3 correct: You're a Metro Newbie! While you're playing #WhichWMATA, step outside those stations and explore!
4-6 correct: You're a Metro Explorer! You've walked around many of Metro's stations, and always want to see more!
7-8 correct: You're a Metro Voyager! Are you sure you didn't download that 113-megabyte Atlas and take this quiz open-book?

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