Greater Greater Washington

Transit


How will Rush Plus affect the Yellow Line?

On Monday, June 18, Metro will make big changes to the rail system with Rush Plus. Under the Rush Plus service plan, the Yellow Line will have more potential destinations than it does today.


Photo by the author.

While Metro has been installing new maps throughout the system and in railcars for several weeks, some riders have wondered about the effect on Yellow Line trains. Foremost among those questions: Will they serve Fort Totten at all times now? The answer is yes... mostly.

Right now, Yellow Line trains start at Huntington and run north toward downtown Washington. During rush hour, those trains only go as far as Mount Vernon Square. If it's not rush hour, the trains continue to Fort Totten. (A few Yellow Line trains run to and from Greenbelt at the beginning and end of rush hour, since Metro stores those trains in the Greenbelt rail yard.)

Once Rush Plus is in effect, new Yellow Line trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt every 20 minutes during rush. Meanwhile, the existing Yellow Line trains, that start or end at Huntington, will still run, and still turn at Mount Vernon Square as they do today.

Off-peak, Huntington trains will run to Fort Totten as today. And the Huntington trains stored at Greenbelt Yard will continue to start or end their runs at Greenbelt.

What this means is that the section of the Metro system between Mount Vernon Square and Fort Totten will have Yellow Line service at all times. Yellow service north of Fort Totten will operate only during rush hours.

However, most rush hour Yellow Line trains (and all of those from Huntington, except the few trains stored at the Greenbelt yard) will still end at Mount Vernon Square.

What does the map say?

Metro struggled with figuring out how best to show that service north of Mount Vernon Square is limited during rush hour. In an initial draft, they showed the section between Mount Vernon Square and Fort Totten with white dots overlaid. Some found this confusing so Metro eliminated it. After all, there will always be trains in that section, it's really just a question of how many.


First draft of the new map.

One of the other things Metro nixed from the final version of the map were icons indicating stations that were used as terminals. Metro discovered through focus groups that people found these icons confusing.


Left: The first draft of the revised map. Right: The final version.

But that means that Mount Vernon Square, which is a terminal for several hours each day, gets no special recognition on the map.

Customers need to be able to find the terminal stations on the map quickly and simply, since those are the stations that appear on the sides of trains. If you're expecting a train to end at Fort Totten, but it shows up saying that it's going to Mount Vernon Square, it should be very easy for you to find Mount Vernon Square on the map.

Why stop at Mount Vernon Square?

While the tracks between Mount Vernon Square and Fort Totten will now play host to Yellow Line trains at all times, you might still have to get off of your Yellow train at Mount Vernon Square during rush hour.

Discussions about the Yellow Line's northern terminals invariably bring up questions about why the line doesn't run to Fort Totten or Greenbelt at all times.

There are two primary reasons. The first is that Fort Totten does not have a pocket track, where trains can turn back. That's fine off-peak, when the trains are farther apart. But during rush hour, trains come so frequently that blocking the main line to turn around would cause major delays.

The second reason is that there are not currently enough railcars for a full-time extension. Metro would need 30 more railcars (in addition to the pocket track) to run Yellow Line trains all the way to Fort Totten during rush hour. Extending the line to Greenbelt would require another 30 cars, for a total of 60 cars necessary to operate the extensions.

For those reasons, we're stuck with a complex service pattern on the Yellow Line for the foreseeable future.

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. 

Comments

Add a comment »

If short-turning trains are to be enshrined in the service patterns, then Metro ought to look at re-branding the way they identify their services.

To this point for most of Metro's history, a 'line' (e.g. the physical tracks) and a 'service' (e.g. the trains that run on said tracks) have been synonymous with a few exceptions for short turns and track work. The Rush Plus services change that.

The addition of the Silver Line will only broaden the potential universe of rail services. WMATA needs to consider a step towards New York's method of identifying services. It doesn't need to be that complex, since WMATA's system isn't that complex, but it would better be able to identify regular services without forcing the rider to think about the line, the destination, and the service patterns.

Matt, I believe your map entry into the GGW map contest did some of that, did it not?

by Alex B. on Jun 11, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

I remember hearing that the "extra" Orange trains were going to turn around at West Falls Church to get people "used to" Silver Line trains peeling off at East Falls Church. But now, I'm hearing all trains will go to Vienna. Which is true?

by Matt Glazewski on Jun 11, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

As a rider who takes the Yellow line between Huntington and L'Enfant Plaza, I'm one of the lucky users for whom the Rush+ change will reduce my rush hour service. The biggest problem I've had previously is with the end of the afternoon rush hour change when Yellow line trains start running to Fort Totten. I'm heading south, and there is a pretty large gap in southbound Yellow service at this time. Now, with the Yellow lines running to Franconia/Springfield, I've got a lot more of those gaps to deal with, especially if one of the new Rush+ trains comes towards the end of rush hour.

by Another Josh on Jun 11, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

@Another Josh: Rush Plus won't reduce your service. There will be just as many yellow trains running between Huntington and L'Enfant Plaza. There will just be some additional trains branded yellow that don't run to Huntington.

by Gray on Jun 11, 2012 10:53 am • linkreport

What would it cost to just run all rush hour yellow line trains to greenbelt?

by Michael Perkins on Jun 11, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

Didn't read the paragraph where you said why they couldn't do that. Sorry!

by Michael Perkins on Jun 11, 2012 11:01 am • linkreport

As a Columbia Heights to Crystal City commuter, I'll be curious to see whether the Rush Plus trains will run at regular times each morning so that I can deliberately catch them. More likely they'll operate at somewhat variable times and catching one will be an occasional lucky-strike-extra. Anyway it's all upside for us Yellow-liners (sorry Blue-ists).

by Bud on Jun 11, 2012 11:09 am • linkreport

If WMATA had adopted Matt's map portrayal of the Red line with the width of the Red line adjusted at Grovsner and Silver Spring these terminals would jump out at a customer.

by Transit Guy on Jun 11, 2012 11:10 am • linkreport

This is a really good post, though it neglects the fact that even now Metro often short-turns yellow line trains at Mt Vernon Sq at off-peak hours and on weekends, despite service indications on the old maps to the contrary.

I'm disappointed to read this post. Based on Metro's new maps I had been expecting ALL yellow line trains to run at least to Ft Totten starting June 18. The new system maps are misleading, at best. There are going to be a lot of surprised non-GGW readers who, when they are unceremoniously dumped at Mt Vernon Sq next week, will conclude that it is just more random Metro service deficiencies instead of planned short-turns that simply aren't reflected on the maps.

by phil on Jun 11, 2012 11:16 am • linkreport

Oh, wow. I didn't know that some of the Yellow trains would still be turning around at Mt Vernon. Without this post, I would have just assumed they all were going to Ft. Totten, which I thought was a brilliant idea. This is disappointing.

by Nick on Jun 11, 2012 11:25 am • linkreport

@Another Josh: You're confused with being a blue line rider between Rosslyn and the Pentagon, i.e. the inter-VA travelers. Those will get less trains and once Rush-Minus service kicks in next week. It is appalling that metro brushes over this reduction in service in their campaign.

by Jasper on Jun 11, 2012 11:33 am • linkreport

Got it. I thought that current Yellow trains were being diverted from Huntington to Franconia/Springfield. Now that I look closer, it's current Blue trains that change from following their current route to going over the Yellow line bridge.

I still have that end of rush hour gap in Yellow to Huntington service to deal with, when that first Northbound train start running to Fort Totten and then takes longer to head back southbound. I don't know how many times I've made it to my L'Enfant transfer just in time to see a Southbound Yellow line train pull away, then to wait through 3 Green line trains.

by Another Josh on Jun 11, 2012 11:41 am • linkreport

@Jasper- WMATA doesn't brush this over. In fact, they highlight in their bus imporvments that the 9E and 10E Metro bus routes are being extended to run express between the Pentagon/Crystal City and Rosslyn to make up for lost Blue Line service. People need to take it upon themselves to be properly educated about their commute on a transit system. In additiona, and most important, no one will be stranded. The worst that will happen is someone waits 12 minutes on a station platform.

I feel the Rush+ campaign is one of the more well-done campaigns to educate the public with most of the campaing being in the rail cars and online.

by Transport. on Jun 11, 2012 11:47 am • linkreport

@Another Josh:
I'll reiterate what others have said. The number of trains departing Huntington will not change under Rush Plus.

Currently during rush hour, 10 trains per hour depart Huntington and run to Mount Vernon Square. Additionally, 10 trains per hour depart Franconia and run to Largo.

Under Rush Plus, 10 trains per hour will depart Huntington and run to Mount Vernon Square. 10 trains per hour will depart Franconia. 7 of these will go to Largo, the other 3 will run to Greenbelt.

So, if you're a Huntington to L'Enfant commuter, you will see no reduction in service.

by Matt Johnson on Jun 11, 2012 11:53 am • linkreport

@Another Josh:
One more thing. I won't say you're wrong about waiting through several Greens between Yellows. You obviously experience this.

But the gap in Yellow Line trains is not because the first one to start running to Fort Totten takes longer to come back.

In the afternoon, when the last "rush" Yellow Line train ends at Mount Vernon Square, the Yellow Line train that will follow it southbound 12 minutes later is already running southbound on the Green Line.

To prevent a big gap in service, a few Yellow Line trains are dispatched from Greenbelt Yard to cover southbound coverage, while northbound trains cover the additional track between Mount Vernon Square and Fort Totten and back.

It takes a train 11 minutes to get from Mount Vernon Square to Fort Totten. Let's assume it takes about 2 minutes to turn a train at the crossover. It then takes 11 minutes to get back to Mount Vernon Square. If there were no Yellow trains dispatched from Greenbelt, there would be a 24 minute gap in service.

I've observed this happening a good bit, since I transfer at Fort Totten every day. Generally, when the first Yellow Line train of the evening to Fort Totten arrives, you can watch a southbound Yellow Line train arriving (with passengers) on the southbound platform.

by Matt Johnson on Jun 11, 2012 12:03 pm • linkreport

Several years ago, I was one of those Blue "reverse commuters" who needed to get to the R-B corridor. Most of my co-workers who used transit used the Blue line. Eventually, it became better for me to drive. I too feel bad for those who are often overlooked with this, Jasper.

by selxic on Jun 11, 2012 12:05 pm • linkreport

The yellow/green redundancy should compensate for any confusion going North, particularly given that this is not major visitor corridor. Unlike the Red Line stopping at Grosvenor, the Mt Vernon terminus has the green line redundancy and doesn't strand large numbers of office workers in the am 1 or 2 stops short of their destination. Having occasionally gone to King St on the Yellow line, I'd say very few people coming from DC, esp. points N of Gallery Place, will be going further than DCA and inconvenienced.

This being the DC area, there will be much whining in the beginning, but this mostly looks like a positive step. It probably would have been better to roll this out after the peak tourist season, so that locals would be used to helping the many tourists who can't seem to read a map.

by Rich on Jun 11, 2012 12:10 pm • linkreport

During rush hour you "might" still have to get off the yellow line at Mt. Vernon Square ?

That's a big unexplained "might". Hopefully it won't happen much.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 11, 2012 12:11 pm • linkreport

@Jaspar; exactly right. And now a major inconvience for people in the West End and Orange Line (Arlington) to get to National as well.

Thanks Silver LIne!

by charlie on Jun 11, 2012 12:13 pm • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris:
During rush hours, each hour there will be 13 northbound Yellow Line trains running north through Gallery Place. Of those 13, 10 will end at Mount Vernon Square. That's 77% of the Yellow Line trains.

All trains that currently end at Mount Vernon Square will continue to do so.

The only Yellow Line trains that won't end there are the ones from Franconia-Springfield and the ones that are stored in the Greenbelt Yard that run through at the beginning and end of rush hour.

by Matt Johnson on Jun 11, 2012 12:19 pm • linkreport

The original Metro map shows the Yellow line terminus at Greenbelt, so it is interesting that they didn't build the necessary facilities to accommodate that.

by Vicente Fox on Jun 11, 2012 12:20 pm • linkreport

Thanks Matt.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 11, 2012 12:22 pm • linkreport

@ Transport:In fact, they highlight in their bus imporvments that the 9E and 10E Metro bus routes are being extended to run express between the Pentagon/Crystal City and Rosslyn to make up for lost Blue Line service.

And how does the 9E or 10E get me to Franconia-Springfield frmo Rossyln?

People need to take it upon themselves to be properly educated about their commute on a transit system.

I have. And I will be experiencing a reduction in service. That's why I call it Rush-Minus.

The worst that will happen is someone waits 12 minutes on a station platform.

You forget that people have connections to catch. VRE trains, buses. Things that don't wait for trains. Missing a VRE train or bus can easily mean that those 12 minutes turn to 30 or more.

@ charlie:Thanks Silver Line!

The Silver Line will be a massive improvement for the system. I am not blaming this on the Silver Line.

by Jasper on Jun 11, 2012 12:24 pm • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris

I'd go so far as to say you "probably will" have to still get off at Mt. Vernon. The Rush+ changes amount to a single train every 20 minutes that doesn't terminate there. So as someone said up above, it's basically a crapshoot - once in a while, you might get lucky and not have to transfer at Mt. Vernon.

What I really don't understand is why there's no push for the additional trains needed to a) run to Greenbelt all the time, and b) run 8-car trains on the entire system.

by GWJ on Jun 11, 2012 12:28 pm • linkreport

I commute from Rosslyn to Crystal City via the Blue Line. It already is a wash between riding the train and driving. I suspect "Rush Plus" will made the auto much more attractive.

by Juanita de Talmas on Jun 11, 2012 12:28 pm • linkreport

The worst that will happen is someone waits 12 minutes on a station platform.

That's really an unacceptable amount of time to wait at a close-in station during rush hour.

by Justin Russo on Jun 11, 2012 12:35 pm • linkreport

The answer: Rush Plus will make the Yellow Line better.

Jasper, I'm sorry that you will experience worse service under Rush+. However, for ever one person in your situation, five other riders (myself included) will see improved service. I think that Metro's communication on the matter has been very clear.

You really should blame the Silver Line for this. As Matt wrote earlier here: "once the Silver Line opens, Metro will not have much choice in the matter. In order to get enough Silver and Orange trains through Rosslyn, some Blue Line trains will certainly be rerouted via the Yellow Line bridge."

by Payton on Jun 11, 2012 1:00 pm • linkreport

I am what I imagine is a rare commuter from Greenbelt and points north to Eisenhower Avenue. But as far as I can tell, the yellow line will now service both my origin and destination, but I won't be able to take a train in between the two without transferring, which is essentially what the very first comment says about unlinking the lines and services. I'm not mis-interpreting anything, am I?

by Ted on Jun 11, 2012 1:02 pm • linkreport

That 10E extension was the bus I wish existed when I commuted from Del Ray to Courthouse. Would have reduced to just 1 transfer instead of two. I value more seat-time and fewer x-fers, regardless of the mode.

by spookiness on Jun 11, 2012 1:04 pm • linkreport

@Ted, that looks right. All the Greenbelt yellow trains during rush hour will be going to Franconia-Springfield rather than to Huntington.

Fortunately, there will be 24 trains per hour or more on the tracks, so just step off and transfer just like you used to.

by Michael Perkins on Jun 11, 2012 1:07 pm • linkreport

@Juanita - "I commute from Rosslyn to Crystal City via the Blue Line. It already is a wash between riding the train and driving. I suspect "Rush Plus" will made the auto much more attractive."

Are you transferring from the Orange line or a bus, or does your commute start in Rosslyn? Even with the drop in frequency of service, it's pretty hard to beat 8 minutes on one train, unless your office is on 23rd street and you've got that walk every day, too.

When I used to do Ballston to CC I often drove simply because the Orange line transfer at Rosslyn could be brutal, especially coming home. Had I been starting with the Blue line, I never would driven.

by worthing on Jun 11, 2012 1:09 pm • linkreport

How will service be effected for this going to/from Rosslyn, Huntington, Arlington Cemetery, Eisenhower Ave, they seem like they will get the short end of the straw is there any benefit for them. What about the eastern Blue line east of Stadium Armory.

How will they avoid confusion for passengers that are blind/deaf trying to take trains that run to multiple terminals ? I have been on Metrorail many times when a train did not show anything on its signs, the PID was not working or you could not hear the operator those could be big issues on the Yellow and Orange lines.

by kk on Jun 11, 2012 1:17 pm • linkreport

I wish GGC would stop trumpeting every METRO effort as wonderful or inspired. This change wrecks havoc on the Blue Line. It is not credible to say that increased bus traffic from say Pentagon City to Rosslyn is a good substitute. That's insulting in fact. Never seen a METROBUS in flight...therefore the trip from Pentagon City to Rosslyn is going to be mighty slow crawling along the same roads auto commuters use.

by Pelham1861 on Jun 11, 2012 1:20 pm • linkreport

@kk:
Rosslyn: Rosslyn will be seeing more Orange Line trains, but will see a 30% reduction in service south toward Franconia.

Huntington: Nothing will change at Huntington.

Arlington Cemetery: This station will see 30% fewer trains in each direction.

Eisenhower Ave: Nothing will change at Eisenhower Ave.

Stadium/Armory - Largo: The number of trains will stay the same. 3 trains per hour (out of 10 total) in each direction will be colored Orange and will run to Vienna instead of Franconia.

by Matt Johnson on Jun 11, 2012 1:22 pm • linkreport

Pelham,

I wish GGC would stop trumpeting every METRO effort as wonderful or inspired.

I read this as a nice description of what will be happening. I don't see anyone calling it 'wonderful' or 'inspired,' yet alone trumpeting those terms. You seem to be the only one using those words.

by Alex B. on Jun 11, 2012 1:30 pm • linkreport

@ Payton:Jasper, I'm sorry that you will experience worse service under Rush+. However, for ever one person in your situation, five other riders (myself included) will see improved service.

I understand that, but it does not preclude the fact that my commute will (most likely) become longer and more crowded.

You really should blame the Silver Line for this.

Is the Silver Line running yet? No, it's not.

In order to get enough Silver and Orange trains through Rosslyn, some Blue Line trains will certainly be rerouted via the Yellow Line bridge."

Metro will have more trains by then, and hopefully at some point, they'll be able to run 8-car trains on the Blue Line to alleviate the crush.

Finally, I see no push from anyone to solve the tunnel-problem between Foggy-Bottom and Rosslyn. In a matter of year, this tunnel will carry the maximum of trains and cars it can, while the number of passengers will keep increasing.

They need to address that. There are basically two options, one expensive, one very expensive.

* Expensive: Make a inter-VA switch in Rosslyn, so Orange and Silver Lines can go to the Pentagon and beyond.
* Very expensive: An extra tunnel and separation of the Blue from the Orange and Silver Lines, with a new Blue Line along M St.

Seeing how long it takes to get anything done around here, they should have been working on this for at least decade now.

by Jasper on Jun 11, 2012 1:33 pm • linkreport

What's "GGC"? I'm voting "Greater Greater Cumberbatch."

@Jasper - and others who regularly take the Blue line now - how bad is the crowding coming north during rush hour? When I rode blue south to Pentagon City/Crystal City, I found the trains to be stunningly ghostly. I imagine the manageable southbound ridership is one reason this service reduction came to be.

by worthing on Jun 11, 2012 1:41 pm • linkreport

What benefit do people traveling in areas that will receive less service get ? The new bus extensions dont seem like a benefit as you have to get off the train and then a bus or from a fare prospective it could end up being more than the rail.

Also how does rushhour work in the system that has always confused me as I have never seen any documents explaining it like they do with the bus.

At 6pm does the last Yellow line going to Greenbelt leave Franconia Springfield or does the last Yellow line arrive at Greenbelt at 6pm

by kk on Jun 11, 2012 1:45 pm • linkreport

@kk:
The last Rush Plus Yellow Line train from Franconia-Springfield will depart at 6:04p and arrive at Greenbelt at 7:00p.

by Matt Johnson on Jun 11, 2012 2:02 pm • linkreport

@ worthing:how bad is the crowding coming north during rush hour?

Depends on which rush hour. The weird thing with metro is that ridership can change quite a lot without reason (that I can detect and I try). However, during morning rush fairly often all seats get taken before we leave Franconia-Springfield. By the time we hit King St, it's standing room only for sure, and then it fills up, especially at the Pentagon. I guess a lot of people come in from buses. In Rosslyn a lot of people get off. I see a lot of inter-VA transfers.

In the afternoon it's about the same. Very busy from Foggy-Bottom/Rosslyn to the Pentagon, and after that it empties out slowly.

So, what I am worried about is the Foggy-Bottom/Rosslyn to Pentagon stretch. Currently, you can generally get on a train. However, the second there is any disruption of regular service, entering a train becomes a problem in Rosslyn.

Furthermore, a 12 minute wait is simply unacceptable for rush hour service in a major city. Can you imagine the mess on days with delays, when that 12 minutes turns into 20 or 30?

by Jasper on Jun 11, 2012 2:04 pm • linkreport

Alex B at top of the comments is right. The map is really an odd hybrid now. If we went with NYC style coloring of trunk lines then there might be three lines corresponding to the three main tunnels downtown. You could stick with primary colors Red, Yellow, Blue and add letters or numbers for service patterns and terminals. (The Pentagon to Alexandria track would be the only place with multi-line service.)

by jonglix on Jun 11, 2012 2:07 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

The reality is that plenty of people who are enjoying that one-seat ride on the Blue Line to Metro Center, Federal Triangle, or Smithsonian will now hop on whatever train (Yellow or Blue) comes first and transfer at L'Enfant if they need to. For those going to the other Western DC Blue Line stations it's going to be less convenient for sure.

If WMATA would actually release station pair ridership numbers (like BART does) then we would have a better idea on how this might affect train crowding.

by MLD on Jun 11, 2012 2:22 pm • linkreport

@Jasper: I completely agree; a new crossing should have been in the planning stages starting about 10/15 years ago. Now we need to find a group of competent elected officials from Arlington, Fairfax, Montgomery, and Pr. George's counites, the District, and Alexandria, Falls Church, Rockville cities, etc... to work together to start planning for a new Metrorail crossing to allow for more capacity in the core.

I could say something snarky about what I wrote above about leaders working together but hope the people in the region can make the process start since such a crossing is probably 15+ years away.

"Finally, I see no push from anyone to solve the tunnel-problem between Foggy-Bottom and Rosslyn. In a matter of year, this tunnel will carry the maximum of trains and cars it can, while the number of passengers will keep increasing.

They need to address that. There are basically two options, one expensive, one very expensive.

* Expensive: Make a inter-VA switch in Rosslyn, so Orange and Silver Lines can go to the Pentagon and beyond.
* Very expensive: An extra tunnel and separation of the Blue from the Orange and Silver Lines, with a new Blue Line along M St.

Seeing how long it takes to get anything done around here, they should have been working on this for at least decade now."

by Transport. on Jun 11, 2012 5:35 pm • linkreport

So, according to @Matt Johnson, 77% of northbound yellow line trains during rush hour will terminate at Mt Vernon Square.

I paid extra attention to Metro's new map on my way home tonight. The segment from Mt Vernon Square to Ft Totten is solid yellow, signifying "full time service" vice "rush hour only service". 23% of trains is pretty far from full time service during rush hour.

Metro's new map is deceptive.

by Joe on Jun 11, 2012 7:03 pm • linkreport

@Vicente Fox:
They did build necessary facilities to accommodate it, what they did not do is procure rolling stock in sufficient numbers to exploit those facilities.

See next to last paragraph in article.

by Sand Box John on Jun 11, 2012 11:08 pm • linkreport

@Transport:
You forgot the third option:

* Lesser expensive: Procure rolling stock in sufficient numbers to allow the increase the present 20 trains per hour to 30 trains per hour.

The train control and signaling is designed to accommodate 40 trains per hour.

by Sand Box John on Jun 11, 2012 11:22 pm • linkreport

@Joe:
I don't disagree that the map could be better, and in fact I think it should be better, but I don't know that I'd describe it as "deceptive."

As I pointed out, Metro struggled with this. After all, you will be able to catch the Yellow Line at Columbia Heights at all times. Just not every Yellow train will stop there.

Think about it this way. Only half of all Red Line trains go to Glenmont (the other half stop at Silver Spring). That's not shown on the map (I think it should be). Should the section of the map from Silver Spring to Glenmont be dashed?

In some ways, this is a Gordian Knot.

In the past, I suggested doing more to call out the terminal stations by putting them in a colored box (like Montreal does). In my submission in the map contest, I even pulled out a "spur" to indicate the station's role as a terminal.

How would you show the Yellow Line between Mount Vernon Square and Greenbelt?

by Matt Johnson on Jun 12, 2012 12:59 am • linkreport

Matt,

Thanks for the write up. This is the right thing for all the wrong reasons. The very dense neighborhoods just north of Mt. Vernon are still greatly underserved by rail service and subject to the service cut debate annually as they try to solve budget woes.

This has been a crusade of mine since 1998 when they stripped the Yellow Line and full service from U Street and opened the Columbia Heights and Petworth stations completing the inner Green Line. We had both yellow and green full time during rush hour and off peak from 92-98. The fight then was for extended hours, (ended at 12am on weekends) and frequency of trains.

There are another 2500 units of housing being built on the U Street stop alone over the next few years, not to mention all the growth planned for Shaw that will greatly strain the ability of even this modified service to meet. There does need to be a continued call for expanded service to serve the dense urban areas that got short changed when they cancelled the original plans to take the Yellow line to W. Hyattsville and spur off there and instead opted for the turn around at Mt. Vernon because of decade long delays in green line construction in the 80's.

Glad to finally see a train that traverses directly across the region from SW to NE connecting the VRE and MARC lines and BWI and National Airports. For the sake of off peak travelers I really wish they would continue this service during the whole day, something they do have the train cars available to make happen.

Long time spent waiting for this change that is only happening because of the crisis of the tunnel backups and delays.

by Scott P on Jun 12, 2012 6:27 am • linkreport

@Matt Johnson:

As in so much of life, where you stand depends on where you sit. Or in this case, where you board.

For example, if I'm boarding at Shaw headed north for Ft Totten, it will indeed seem like there is full-time, if infrequent, yellow line service, since any yellow line train that arrives carries on to my destination. However, if I'm boarding at Gallery Place, only 23% of yellow line trains that arrive continue north to Ft Totten. For riders boarding at Gallery Place or points further south, that hardly seems to be "Full-Time Service".

A reasonable English speaker would probably interpret the phrase "Full-Time Service" to mean something along the lines of 100%, all the time, or without interruption. If you ignore the yellow line beyond the segment between Mt Vernon Square and Ft Totten, you can indeed argue there is full-time, if infrequent, service, on that stretch.

However, that's neither the context of the map nor the context of most yellow line riders. A strict reading of "Full Time Service" would suggest anything under 100% of yellow line trains reaching Ft Totten (well, this is Metro after all, let's say 85%) wouldn't qualify. You might argue that with 51% of trains reaching Ft Totten you could call it Full-Time Service since it's closer to full-time than not. But 23%? Not with a straight face.

So to answer your question: If the map were mine, with the service as described in the original post, the yellow line would be broken/dashed from Mt Vernon Square to Greenbelt and instead of "Rush-Only Service" the description, at least for the yellow line, would be "Intermittent".

by Joe on Jun 12, 2012 8:47 am • linkreport

Joe,

Using your logic, the red line would be dashed line above Silver Spring and Grosvenor, while technically, the orange would be dashed west of West Falls Church, and the Yellow would be all dashed below King Street. In my book, that would make things even more confusing.

I guess I'm in the minority that really thinks that separate colors or designators were the way to go with this. After all, if a bus makes a minor deviation, it's no longer the S2 but the S4, yet we now have yellow and orange trains making multiple patterns under the same banner.

by AJ on Jun 12, 2012 1:30 pm • linkreport

Keep it simple. Dashed lines mean limited service. Width of lines mean frequency of service. What's missing on the new Metro map are widths of each of the lines, not more dashes. And to keep it simple, the widths should be summarized as 1-3 categories (ranges in legend) of frequency quickly visualized (so as to not really read the legend) as skinny, medium, or fat.

by Stlplanr on Jun 13, 2012 11:02 am • linkreport

The number of questions and comments for this post says it all: this is ludicrously confusing. 95% or more of commuters do not keep up with the ins and outs of train service and those that are affected by the changes are going to be seriously confused.

by Arnold on Jun 13, 2012 2:07 pm • linkreport

As per the additional 60 cars needed for full-time yellow line service to Greenbelt, we can get those cars for $174 million, which seems rather like chump change to me in an era of multibillion dollar transit grants.

Extrapolated from here: http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/capital_needs/project_details.cfm?I=068, which in itself seems like a desperately-needed idea...

by GWJ on Jun 13, 2012 2:11 pm • linkreport

I take the metro from Huntington to Silver Spring for work during rush hour. Based on their new maps I was hoping that with all these changes I would be able to ride to Fort Totten without changing trains twice so I could bypass the New York Ave area that often has slow track maintenance issues on the Red Line. Instead my service is exactly the same it seems. There is no point in switching to a yellow rush plus since the time it takes to change trains twice I might as well just change at Gallery Place anyway. Thanks for nothing metro.

by ALE on Jun 19, 2012 11:39 am • linkreport

ALE: It's unfortunate that this change doesn't improve your commute, but no change is going to help everyone. My commute is also not affected because I don't ride on the Blue or Yellow Lines at all. I don't think that's a reason to be annoyed at Metro, however.

by David Alpert on Jun 19, 2012 12:42 pm • linkreport

@David Alpert

It's unfortunate that this change doesn't improve your commute, but no change is going to help everyone.

I think this is true, but Metro has somewhat invited this on themselves. Rush + is a fairly modest service change, but they're the ones branding it as 'rush hour re-invented.'

They haven't really re-invented anything (as ALE's comment points out), so I can't fault riders for calling out Metro for over-promising and under-delivering.

by Alex B. on Jun 19, 2012 12:49 pm • linkreport

On the first day of Rush+ I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but during my afternoon commute (I take metrobus in the mornings) as I made my transfer at L'Enfant Plaza headed north, the first train to come by was a yellow line train bound for Greenbelt, something I only noticed after I boarded.

Karma, serendipity, or something. We'll see if there is a noticeable difference in the weeks and months ahead. If nothing else, these few trains heading north past Mt Vernon Square might thin the crowds at L'Enfant watching near-empty short-turn yellow trains come and go.

by phil on Jun 19, 2012 1:10 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or

Support Us

How can our region be greater?

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
CC BY-NC