The Metro Express
Today is the one-year anniversary of Greater Greater Washington's first transit fantasy maps. One year ago today, I assembled some pie-in-the-sky Metrorail expansion proposals by M.V. Jantzen and Richard Layman into a fantasy map and then another. The links I got from this and subsequent maps was the first big boost to this nascent blog's readership. In honor of that, it's time for another map.
This one came out of Friday's discussion on Prince George's transportation plan. Specifically, that plan recommends extending the Green Line to Laurel, Fort Meade, and eventually BWI. As several commenters pointed out, however, we do have train tracks going to all of those places today. MARC runs passenger service on them, but far too infrequently to really enable people to travel back and forth, except those who commute at set times every day.
What if Metro ran service on these lines? We could have trains from Maryland continue through to Virginia, as MARC and VRE hope to do one day. The only real obstacle is CSX, which also runs freight service. What if we could move their freight service off these lines, or widen the trackways to add enough tracks?
We could have a Metro system something like this:
The only new tracks here are the separate Blue Line through DC, which would add enormous capacity to our Metro system (though also at great cost), and the already-planned Purple and Silver Lines. The new Pink, Lime and Teal lines follow existing MARC and CSX lines. I've added some infill stations, both on Metro (like Potomac Yards, Oklahoma Avenue, and Jefferson Memorial) and on the new lines (like Arboretum, Fort Totten, and the Capitol).
MARC goes all the way to West Virginia and Perryville, beyond Baltimore. We don't actually want Metro-frequency service all the way there. For this map, the lines end at a place that seems somewhat reasonable, and about the same distance from DC as the future end of the Silver Line. Less frequent service could still continue all the way to those edges and beyond.
This wouldn't just move people from distant towns to DC. It would also create the express service Metro lacks but which is so beneficial to cities like New York. There aren't four tracks out to Bethesda, but the Pink Line actually is a Red Express, getting people from Silver Spring to Union Station in just two stops, and from Rockville in six, far less than sixteen by the Red Line. The Lime line functions as an express from Greenbelt and College Park or from Franconia-Springfield and King Street.
Is this wise? Some say we really need to focus development around our existing Metro stations and inside the Beltway, not on putting scarce economic development and transportation dollars toward encouraging more people to live in Germantown and Konterra or to work at Fort Meade or Fort Belvoir. Still, BRAC is happening whether we like it or not, and Maryland really wants Metro to BWI to compete with the future Silver Line to Dulles. If we are going to develop out there anyway, let's at least take advantage of the transit infrastructure we already have.
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