How will Rush Plus affect Blue Line commuters?
On Monday we discussed how Rush Plus would affect the Yellow Line. If you commute on the Blue Line, you'll be in for some changes too.
The primary reason for Rush Plus is to allow more Orange Line trains to go through Rosslyn, which is currently maxed out. This will also make way for the Silver Line to Tysons, whose trains will also need to go through Rosslyn.
In essence, 3 Blue Line trains per hour in each direction will now travel across the Yellow Line bridge, and will now be labeled Yellow Line trains.
These trains will run all the way from Franconia-Springfield to Greenbelt. Riders from Alexandria and southern Arlington going to the eastern side of downtown DC or the mid-city will have shorter, transfer-free trips and more frequent service. But those traveling toward northern Arlington or the western half of downtown will see fewer trains.
Will my commute be longer?
Your commute might get a little longer if you commute between certain pairs of stations, but no one's commute should increase by more than 6 minutes.
If you commute between Franconia-Springfield or Van Dorn Street and any station that is both north of Pentagon and west of Metro Center, your commute might be longer under Rush Plus.
Why "might"? Only 30% of Blue Line trains will switch to the Yellow Line, so you'll only be affected if the next train leaving after you reach the station is one of those. The other 70% of trains will see no change.
Blue Line trains currently leave Franconia-Springfield every 6 minutes during rush hour (10 trains per hour). That won't change, but the destination of 3 of those trains will be Greenbelt rather than Largo. Here's the morning rush hour schedule for trains departing Franconia-Springfield. Trains shown in yellow will be Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt starting Monday, June 18.
Let's look at an example
Let's say you commute from Franconia-Springfield to McPherson Square.
If you normally catch the train that leaves Franconia at 8:04, your commute will be the same as it is today. Your commute will also be the same if you normally get the 8:16, although you might notice more crowding. That's because with the 8:10 becoming a Yellow Line train, some people will wait for this train who would have caught the 8:10.
But if you usually ride the 8:10, that train won't be a Blue Line train anymore, starting on Monday. You could either take this train, or wait for a Blue Line train. Which is better?
Currently, pre-Rush Plus, you have 2 options for getting from Franconia to McPherson Square by train. If you stay on the 8:10 train the whole way, you'll pass through Rosslyn and then arrive at McPherson Square at 8:44.
You could also get off the 8:10 Blue Line train at Pentagon, hop across the river on the Yellow Line, then change back to Orange or Blue at L'Enfant. That would get you to McPherson Square 9 minutes later, at 8:53.
Under Rush Plus you'll also have two options, but they will be different. If you just stay on the 8:10 train, you'll cross the Potomac via the Yellow Line bridge and arrive at L'Enfant Plaza, where you'll transfer to a Blue or Orange train. This option will get you to McPherson Square at 8:46, 2 minutes later than you do today.
You also have the option of getting off the 8:10 train at Pentagon and waiting 6 minutes for the next Blue Line train. That would get you to McPherson Square at
8:54 8:50, 6 minutes later than you do today.
That's to get to McPherson Square, but each destination station is a little different. If you commute from Franconia to Smithsonian, you'll be saving 6 minutes over your commute today. But getting to Rosslyn will take 6 minutes longer.
The bottom line: Take Yellow or wait for Blue?
If you're taking Metro from Franconia to Foggy Bottom, or any station in Virginia north of Pentagon, it will be faster to take the Blue Line, even if that means waiting 6 minutes for the next train. On the other hand, if you're commuting to Farragut West or any station farther east, and the next train is a Yellow, then taking the Yellow and transferring at L'Enfant will be faster.
From Franconia-Springfield or Van Dorn Street, if a Blue train is next, take that. If you're going somewhere east or north of L'Enfant Plaza, transfer to a Yellow Line train at Pentagon.
In terms of winners and losers, Metro Center appears to be the divide. If you're headed somewhere west of Metro Center and north of the Pentagon, if your train is one that is now Yellow, your commute will get longer. If you're going to somewhere east of Metro Center, and your train is one that becomes a Yellow, Rush Plus will be making your trip faster.
Get more information
If you're curious about the specifics of your commute, use Metro's Trip Planner. Entering June 18 as your travel date will show the Rush Plus schedules.
If Rush Plus impacts your schedule negatively, you might be able to adjust for it by sleeping 6 minutes later or getting up a touch earlier. Another option will be Metrobus routes 9E and 10E, which are being extended to Rosslyn to help Blue Line riders.
The key to making Rush Plus work for you is planning. So take some time before Monday's rush hour to look at the Trip Planner.
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