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WMATA releases its next rail map

WMATA has released its next Metrorail map, proposed to go into trains and stations in time for the Silver Line to open.


Proposed new map. Image by Lance Wyman for WMATA.

A new map is necessary to fit the complete Silver Line, which will run all the way through downtown DC and into Prince George's County. The existing Metrorail map just shows the portion of the Silver Line that's currently under construction, but the route will actually join with the Orange Line and run through DC.

The new map will also show Phase 2 of the Silver Line, extending all the way to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County. Phase 2 won't open for several more years, but work on it recently started, and showing it on the map will help riders to become familiar with it sooner rather than later.

The new map incorporates several of the elements proposed in designer Lance Wyman's draft from March, which was then refined in May. The new map is Wyman's most graceful and streamlined yet.

Wyman narrowed the line thickness, lightened the station symbols, and changed the placement of the Silver Line in central DC, to be between the Blue and Orange Lines rather that atop them both.

The "whiskers" at stations where the 3 lines all share track are now white instead of solid black. The "pill" option for those shared stations, from the May draft, has been abandoned.

Overall, these changes make the map lighter and airier-looking, compared the March draft which was clunky and cluttered, especially in the DC core.

One thing missing from this map is DC's H Street streetcar, which should open for service about the same time as the Silver Line. Although the streetcar won't be operated by WMATA, it will certainly be an important rail service in the District.

As streetcar and BRT plans throughout the region move forward, WMATA may want to follow Boston's lead, and show surface transit on its map as well.

But that's a problem for another day.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

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Cue the bellyaching! LOL.

Personally I like it, clean and pleasing to the eye. I do like the idea of adding some key surface lines with good service levels, particularly those that connect the legs of the spiderweb outside of the CBD in a time span that may be comparable or faster than a Metrorail-only trip, but as it stands, I think it does well!

by A. P. on Sep 12, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

So . . . when is the Silver Line going to open?

by Gray on Sep 12, 2013 10:19 am • linkreport

Also, the link on the image doesn't work.

by Gray on Sep 12, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

FINALLY!
After 37 years, the people at WMATA have finally noticed (and fixed) the lack of the border between Maryland and Virginia south of Jones Point. I've brought it up several times.

I still don't like the "whiskers", but they are better in white than they were in black.

I'd also like to see bold text or something to indicate the end-of-line and short-turn terminals. There's nothing on this map to call out Mount Vernon Square or Silver Spring or Grosvenor as terminals, despite the fact that a significant portion of trains terminate there.

And I'd also like to see somemthing indicating that the only YL service north of Mount Vernon Square during peak is (1) only every 20 minutes and (2) only goes to Franconia [not Huntington].

by Matt Johnson on Sep 12, 2013 10:23 am • linkreport

@Gray

I just finished the broken map link. Thanks for the heads-up!

by dan reed! on Sep 12, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

Gray: I believe the opening of Phase I has been pushed back to January or February of next year. Preliminary work on Phase II has 'officially' started but I think I read somewhere that it doesn't involve any actual equipment until next Spring sometime.

If we're going to push for surface rail (I'm assuming the author is referencing steetcar and MARC trains), then you might also want to look into including the VRE as well, especially considering the first 5 stops on the Fredericksburg line share stations with Metro. You certainly don't need to include both lines in their entirety but the shared stations should be on the map and then a "To Fredericksburg" and "To Manassas" might be beneficial.

by Joe on Sep 12, 2013 10:26 am • linkreport

I'm glad they went with the white whiskers over the white bubbles, which were really overpowering visually.

by aaa on Sep 12, 2013 10:26 am • linkreport

Nevermind, I forgot that the VRE IS included on the map, albeit simply logos at the shared stations. Might be sufficient after all I guess.

by Joe on Sep 12, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

I thought Tysons Corner was now Tysons. "It's fresh. It's crisp."

by Ken Archer on Sep 12, 2013 10:44 am • linkreport

Is there perhaps a PDF of this anywhere yet?

by pdovak on Sep 12, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

I guess the NIH Clinical Center and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are not hospitals?

What about United Medical Center which is about a 5 minute walk from the Southern Ave station?

Why put hospitals on the map at all if you are going to ignore the largest medical complex in the city (Washington Hospital Center, Childrens, VA, NRH) which is accessible via shuttle bus from Brookland?

In fact, why put hospitals on the map at all? Anyone going to the hospital for anything other than an emergency will know where the hospital is, and anyone going in an emergency probably shouldn't be taking Metro.

by dcdriver on Sep 12, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

Thank G_d it's still "Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport."

by Crickey7 on Sep 12, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

@dcdriver - I believe they only include symbols for hospitals that are within a certain walking distance and are open to the public. But I agree that the hospital symbol should be omitted. University names too (or at least put in the subtitles).

by 7r3y3r on Sep 12, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

I still don't understand why it's called the "Silver Line" in the first place. It's really just an extension of the Orange line, so why not call it the "Orange Line" with different destinations? Adding a phony silver line clutters the otherwise beautifully simple Metro map for no good reason. Down with Silver!

by cary o'reilly on Sep 12, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

The map still has awkward or offset placement of many station labels from the station marker in the core. How many visitors and first time users will confuse the Smithsonian station marker with the Federal Triangle label? Cleveland Park label and Van Ness marker?

As for the start date of the Silver Line, it is going to be sometime from late December to February. I have seen 8 car trains running on the Phase 1 segment, so the track and signal portion has to be close to completion. The turnover date to WMATA was supposed to be in September, so there should be a status update and a zeroing in of the possible start date soon.

One observation: I have noticed that there appear to be a lot of people who thought the Silver Line was going to terminate at EFC from the current map. They are surprised to discover that there will be 3 Metro lines sharing the tracks from Rosslyn to Stadium Armory. Good news for frequency of service between those stations, not so good for the Blue Line. Maybe we always had to wait for the Silver to open before there will be any serious movement on building a new Blue Line route splitting off at Rosslyn.

by AlanF on Sep 12, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

@cary o'reilly: Yeah, I think that battle is lost.

One thing I've noticed at the Silver Line station by my office: The signs on the platform heading into DC just say it goes to Largo. This is somewhere that BART's approach seems preferable. Why not say it goes to DC, or "Largo via DC"? "Largo via Arlington and DC"? Any of those seem preferable in terms of actually pointing out where that train will go.

by Gray on Sep 12, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

@Joe and @AlanF: Yeah, the last I've heard is that Phase I will open sometime between December and February-ish. But given that December is not super far off, now might be the time to tell potential riders something more specific.

by Gray on Sep 12, 2013 11:43 am • linkreport

@cary o'reilly - I still don't understand why it's called the "Silver Line" in the first place. It's really just an extension of the Orange line, so why not call it the "Orange Line" with different destinations?

Actually, it has different destinations on both ends than the Orange line so I don't see how it's the same as the Orange line other than sharing some stations in the middle. The same could be said for the Blue Line and the Yellow and Green lines, no? And even if it only had one different terminus, the Green and Yellow are no different. Do you think those should be one color?

by 7r3y3r on Sep 12, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

7r3y3r, not really. the blue runs a very distinct course from the orange, but what we're calling the silver is really just an addition of a few stations on the end of the existing orange line. The green and the yellow are also very distinct for almost half their routes, so no, I wouldn't combine them.

by cary o'reilly on Sep 12, 2013 11:50 am • linkreport

I believe they only include symbols for hospitals that are within a certain walking distance and are open to the public.

Not to quibble, but the walk from Southern Ave station to UMC is about the same as from Forest Glen to Holy Cross.

One of supposed advantages of this new map is its consistency (abbreviations, airport buses, etc), so I guess this lack of consistency regarding the hospitals is what bothers me.

Metro is not alone in this. The inconsistency in hospital road signs is even worse.

by dcdriver on Sep 12, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

Cary: I don't see how you can consider the Silver Line an "extension" of the Orange line. It may follow the Orange line westward, but it breaks off after East Falls Church and has a distinct path. Maybe you could call it a "spur" if anything, but having it also Orange would probably be too confusing. Now, if it continued on from Vienna and went up to Tysons I think you could appropriately call it an extension and keep it the same color.

by Joe on Sep 12, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

@cary o'reilly, "calling the silver is really just an addition of a few stations on the end of the existing orange line"? Eleven stations and a 23 mile route splitting off between EFC and WFC is hardly an addition of a few stations on the end of the Orange Line. When the Orange Line is extended further out I-66, it will remain the Orange Line. The Silver Line, when completed, will be a significant line in itself for DC to Tysons, Dulles and Reston-Herndon-Ashburn to Tysons and DC travel.

by AlanF on Sep 12, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

Too bad the map doesn't show the Purple line as tentative like the second phase of the Silver line.

by 202_cyclist on Sep 12, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

This has never stuck out before, but Georgia Ave-Petworth should really go on two lines or something....

by andrew on Sep 12, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

The Silver Line crossover should have been shifted and covered up by the East Falls Church station bubble - which would have looked nicer. And the whiskers are still ugly, no matter what color.

Here's a better solution: shrink the Blue Line to be the same size as the border space between two lines on the map, and just color the border between the Orange and Silver Lines blue. This will solve the problem of needing to span three stations with a single symbol, and as an added bonus, is a more accurate reflection of the reality of the post-Silver Blue Line, which won't maintain minimum service levels.

by Ryan on Sep 12, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

Three stations = three lines.

Whoops.

by Ryan on Sep 12, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

@202_cyclist, the primary construction contract has been awarded and the Notice to Proceed issued for SL Phase 2. The Purple Line is several years away from that point. Perhaps, when Phase 2 opens in 2018 (give or take) and an updated Metro map is released, then a shaded out Purple Line with station markers but no station names can be incorporated into the Metro map for a circa 2020-2021 start of service date.

The map will also be updated for the Potomac Yard infill station, although when that will happen is anyone's guess. If WMATA is looking ahead, they should have commissioned Lance Wyman to draw a map with the Potomac Yard station and the Purple Line, although the Purple Line station names may be revised before it opens.

by AlanF on Sep 12, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

@Matt Johnson, +1

indicate[ing] that the only YL service north of Mount Vernon Square during peak is (1) only every 20 minutes

I did not know this!

Those times when I needed to take the YL during peak I wondered why the GR/YL ratio was so high an it took so long for YL to come. I had chalked it up to unplanned delays/track work.

Obviously this info should be on the map.

by Tina on Sep 12, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

@andrew

Agreed about Georgia Ave-Petworth sticking out. When WMATA was subtitling the stations, I expected it to become "Petworth" as the primary and "Georgia Ave" as the secondary. If I were king for a day, the "Georgia Ave" part would completely be eliminated, as there are a total of 4 metro stations directly on Georgia Avenue, so having that in Petworth's station name isn't very useful.

by Nick C on Sep 12, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

That map cries for a streetcar line connecting Ft. Totten to Friendship Hts.

by Andrew on Sep 12, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

@ cary o'reilly: It's really just an extension of the Orange line, so why not call it the "Orange Line" with different destinations?

Your comment clearly shows you have no concept of the geography of NoVa, and the distortions that are on the map. Vienna is not Reston is not Tysons is not Clarendon. And actually, the same may be said of the other end of the line. Largo is not New Carollton is not the Armory.

by Jasper on Sep 12, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

@Andrew: Why? West of 16th, there is nothing at all there between those two. And when the Purple line opens, there will be a train with dedicated ROW between SS and Bethesda, a grand total of three stops farther out.

I think you can make a strong case for a line along Georgia (as planned), to bring people that are currently pretty far from the Metro access to both the red and green lines. But another crosstown line there? Seems pretty useless.

by Gray on Sep 12, 2013 1:51 pm • linkreport

Gray and Andrew,

There is such a thing; it's just called the E2/E4 bus.

I certainly wouldn't say it is useless, since the base service runs almost as often as the more prominent H2/H4 further in (16 mins vs 15 mins) but both lines are pretty useful (and used) to link between the two legs of the Red Line.

by A. P. on Sep 12, 2013 2:22 pm • linkreport

@Gray,Andrew

I'm in the middle, while a low priority, a route via Military through the southern bit of Chevy Chase (Essentially the E2/4 bus) could be useful. The E2/4 ridership puts it probably in the upper half of bus routes, but definitely below other routes being railed. However, it would make a good east-west connection with 16th St/GA Ave planned street car line fairly equidistant (~2.5 mi) to the Purple Line and the planned Woodley/Brookland line. While on the west side it would end close to the purple, in the middle and even on the east it's not so close to the Purple.

Not crazy, just not a priority.

by John on Sep 12, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport

John sums up my reasoning pretty well. Connectivity for two neighborhood centers with low density residential as well as good mass transit access to Rock Creek Park. Not a high priority, but perhaps for consideration after the 37 mile system and the Wisconsin Avenue lines are built.

by Andrew on Sep 12, 2013 3:01 pm • linkreport

so glad they went with the whiskers instead of the pills that seemed to be the preference of a lot of people on this site and others. They just look cleaner and more professional, simpler, and are consistent.

by xtr657 on Sep 12, 2013 4:10 pm • linkreport

I like it, I wish the colors were a bit brighter or more saturated but that I realize is completely unrelated to its usefulness.

by BTA on Sep 12, 2013 4:23 pm • linkreport

Regarding placement of Southern Ave/Cong Heights...same should be done for Eastern Market and Potomac Ave., namely the latter which is really southwest of Eastern Market, not northeast like the map indicates.

by Mark on Sep 12, 2013 5:23 pm • linkreport

I'd never noticed it on the old map, but on both the old and the new, Woodley Park is on the wrong side of Rock Creek Park, isn't it?

by Fran on Sep 12, 2013 5:31 pm • linkreport

I thought silver was stopping at stadium/armory?

by James H on Sep 12, 2013 5:33 pm • linkreport

Let's just look at Metro with the Silver Line. It runs parallel with the silver and Orange line in the blue line that was a waste of money! It repeats the same stops is the blue and orange line! There should have been a transfer at the orange line from the Silver Line. That way metro could have completed the Silver line on that side. The Silver Line train should have never been made to run along the Blue Line. The Blue line already went that way! That money could have been spend other ways to prolong it to run it into other neighborhoods or areas. More trains should have been added to take up the volume for the more passengers from the Silver Line in the route.

by Natale Lino Stracuzzi on Sep 12, 2013 5:42 pm • linkreport

Subtitle "Reston East" at Wiehle! Looks good. February (that's the last date estimate I heard) and Silver Line trains will be here before we know it.

by Transport. on Sep 12, 2013 5:46 pm • linkreport

@James H

Metro is afraid that their conductors are too incompetent to safely turn around Silver Line trains there (on an elevated pocket track at the D&G junction), so they extended it out to Largo.

by Vincent on Sep 12, 2013 7:15 pm • linkreport

Metro is afraid that their conductors are too incompetent to safely turn around Silver Line trains there (on an elevated pocket track at the D&G junction), so they extended it out to Largo.
Actually, the real reason is that they could get away with slashing Blue Line headways by providing enough supplementary service on other lines to make up for the difference - this is also the real reason why Largo Town Center was chosen as the eastern terminal rather than the far superior choice of New Carrollton. As long as Arlington Cemetery is the only stop served exclusively by Blue, WMATA can use Silver and Yellow Rush+ headways to demonstrate "minimum service levels" on the shared Blue-Yellow and Blue-Silver ends of the Line, arguing that commuters trying to get between Van Dorn Street and Foggy Bottom are in no way adversely affected by their headways being dropped to a crippled 12 minutes during the peak because they can "just take a Yellow train and transfer downtown."

By the way, expect the crush of people moving through L'Enfant to get even worse as what Blue Line riders don't continue packing themselves like sardines into rarer and rarer trains simply follow WMATA's own advice and jam up that already-overburdened station with still more of a crush of people pointlessly transferring from Yellow to Orange or Silver - a transfer that didn't need to happen in L'Enfant or anywhere else were the Blue Line served adequately. Well, unless they decide to give up and drive instead, of course. Who could blame them? Certainly not I.

And you can forget about that grand dream of the M Street Subway - it was unlikely before the calamitous impact that the Silver Line is going to have on the Blue Line, but now? We're more likely to see the Blue Line be the first Metrorail line to get cut from the system completely than we are to see new tunnels built that would allow acceptable service levels to be restored.

by Ryan on Sep 12, 2013 8:34 pm • linkreport

How is this map draw there are so many errors in geography. It would be better if they just took a real map of the DC metro area and drew the stations and lines on top of it then remove all streets and stuff from it by computer.

Why does Southern Ave not have a hospital icon next to it; it is the same distance from Southern Ave to United Medical as it is to Shaw and Howard U Hosp.

Why has SE DC on the map always been so tiny compared to everything else. The DC border should be moved further down to where Naylor RD station is on the map. The distance between Anacostia, Congress Heights and Southern Ave is way further than the distance between Stadium Armory and Benning Road.

The beltway is not that damn close to West Falls Church

by kk on Sep 13, 2013 12:05 am • linkreport

The map isn't meant to be to scale. It's meant to show the relationship between stations. It's a map of the network, not DC (and md and va).

by drumz on Sep 13, 2013 12:43 am • linkreport

@drumz they still should not show things as close as they are one could assume they could walk from one station to the next which people may actually do during one of WMATA's delays.

Parts of the map are geographically accurate while others aren't why do part and not the one; why not make it fully accurate or not accurate at all.

WMATA always suggesting that people not bother transferring between red and blue/orange when going to events at the Verizon Center yet on this map Metro Center and Gallery Place are far apart when in reality they are 2 blocks. They are depicted as the same distance as it is between Gallery Place and Union Station.

by kk on Sep 13, 2013 2:39 am • linkreport

Let's just look at Metro with the Silver Line. It runs parallel with the silver and Orange line in the blue line that was a waste of money! It repeats the same stops is the blue and orange line! There should have been a transfer at the orange line from the Silver Line. That way metro could have completed the Silver line on that side. The Silver Line train should have never been made to run along the Blue Line. The Blue line already went that way! That money could have been spend other ways to prolong it to run it into other neighborhoods or areas. More trains should have been added to take up the volume for the more passengers from the Silver Line in the route.

None of this makes sense. What extra money was spent to make Silver Line trains run along existing tracks?

At least now I know whose name NOT to check on my ballot. Yeesh.

by MLD on Sep 13, 2013 8:15 am • linkreport

I'm glad to see dotted lines back on the metro map. When I was younger I used to sit on the train and look at the map and think about how it was growing; for a long time now I just sit on the train and watch things fall apart. Hopefully things can turn around, and the map is just a symbol of that.

Here's for more dotted lines.

by Mike on Sep 13, 2013 8:27 am • linkreport

How is this map draw there are so many errors in geography.

It's not a map at all, really - it's a diagram of the system.

We call it a map because it's used to navigate within the system (not within the city), but the actual document itself is a diagram.

by Alex B. on Sep 13, 2013 9:05 am • linkreport

Alex B

It is a map by the definition of the word map which is

"a : a representation usually on a flat surface of the whole or a part of an area"

Every single Bus, Train, Ferry system on Earth calls their diagram a map why is that than. It includes the route that the trains take that is a map. Also so is the map included with the metrobus schedule also a diagram.

If you have a problem with it being geographically accurate than why include any geography at all many systems do not have geography such as the map of Seoul

by kk on Sep 14, 2013 1:09 am • linkreport

I think they should do it where that every other Silver line train during Rush hour should go to New Carrollton. Who agrees with me??

by Sam on Sep 14, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

@Sam:

Every Silver Line train period should be going to New Carrollton. This can't be done without either reducing service to Largo Town Center beneath the minimum service level, or providing an acceptable number of peak-hour trains to Blue Line service. (By the way, an acceptable number of trains is "eight." This would require a massive reduction of... two Orange Line trains and one Silver Line train per hour. Both lines would still see 9 trains per hour and the combined EFC - Rosslyn and MN Ave. - New Carrollton sections would see 18 trains per hour, as opposed to 10 each and 20 combined (plus an extra Orange in the peak direction only. By the way - that means that during AM peak, there's only 25 trains moving westbound from Stadium-Armory to Rosslyn, and there's only 25 trains moving eastbound from Rosslyn to Stadium-Armory during PM peak.)

Unfortunately, WMATA has made it absolutely clear that they have no interest in providing acceptable minimum service to the Blue Line. Therefore, no Silver Line trains can be run to New Carrollton as this might result in the communities along the Blue Line east of Stadium-Armory getting engaged in fighting against the continued erosion of Blue Line service while there's still an opportunity to stop it.

by Ryan on Sep 14, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

I also think that every yellow line train period should go to Greenbelt. Why doesn't it? It would be better for people who are trying to get from places like National Airport to places north of Fort Totten

by Sam on Sep 14, 2013 4:27 pm • linkreport

@Sam:
Simple. There aren't enough railcars.

WMATA would need to purchase 60 more railcars in order to run the Yellow Line all the way to Greenbelt during peak.

You can read all about it here:
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/6335/metro-faq-why-no-peak-yellow-line-past-mt-vernon-sq/

by Matt Johnson on Sep 14, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

@Matt:

WMATA just exercised the full option for the 7000 series cars - 748 new cars in all, which means they will finally have the equipment needed to run all Yellow Line trips to Greenbelt. Won't happen tomorrow but it will happen.

by NS on Sep 14, 2013 7:49 pm • linkreport

@MLD:

It seems like he thinks they built new tracks for the Silver line parallel to the orange and blue tracks. I guess he doesn't really understand how every line but the Red interlines with another.

by Gray on Sep 14, 2013 8:42 pm • linkreport

There is a new SilverLineMetro.com website to promote and market the new line. The website has the new map as a PDF file which I don't see available on the WMATA site or PlanItMetro which has a very large bitmap file version.

by AlanF on Sep 15, 2013 11:43 am • linkreport

it'd be nice tif the station area maps included the nearby bus stops and routes and Capital Bikeshare stations or ZipCar spots.

Metrorail needs to act like the bus system is a part of the city

by patb on Sep 16, 2013 2:54 am • linkreport

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