Greater Greater Washington

How would Metro's loop work with an Arlington express line?

Last week, we discussed Metro's proposed new downtown loop line in terms of the Blue and Yellow lines. Metro also plans to feed the loop with a new "express" line along I-66 in Arlington.

While Metro's plans are still in the early stages, at the moment, they seem to be focusing on a new line that would follow I-66 between East Falls Church and Rosslyn, bypassing the crowded Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.


All graphics by the author.

Metro's 2040 projections indicate the need for a new line in Northern Virginia. They estimate that by 2040, there will be significant crowding aboard inbound Silver Line trains before they even get to Tysons, but sharing track with the Orange Line constrains its capacity. They also estimate that by 2040, passengers in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor will find it difficult to board trains, with crowding conditions beyond what is considered acceptable today.

The new express corridor would run alongside the Orange Line in the median of I-66 from the junction with the Dulles Airport Access Road until the Orange Line splits off to follow Fairfax Drive. The new line would stay in the median of I-66 to bypass the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

The new line would allow up to 26 trains per hour (TPH) to run on the Silver Line as well as on the Orange Line, for a total of 52 TPH passing through East Falls Church. It would feed the proposed downtown Metro loop, along with the Blue and Yellow Lines.

The map above shows one way the new line could operate. Under this scenario, the Silver Line would have a companion, which I'm dubbing the Gold Line for the purposes of this discussion.

The downtown loop would have a capacity of 26 TPH in each direction. The Blue and Yellow lines would use 13 TPH of that capacity in each direction, leaving 13 TPH available on the inner loop and 13 TPH available on the outer loop. For this reason, half of the trains on what I'm calling the North Arlington Express line would need to run counterclockwise and half would need to run clockwise, at least to use the loop to its full capacity.

To avoid confusion, it is likely that Metro would use two different colors for the express line. In the scenario outlined in the map above, half of the trains coming from Dulles would be colored Silver, while the other half would be Gold. Each would alternate, going around the loop in the opposite direction.

Of course, it would also be possible to "transform" the lines as I described with regard to the Blue and Yellow lines on the loop in the last post. That way, riders would be used to taking the same color in the morning as the evening. But I did not illustrate that in a map, because with four lines on the loop, it becomes increasingly complex to show the transforms.

Running trains from the North Arlington Express onto the loop would maximize the capacity of the Dulles/Tysons line, the Orange Line, and the loop line at 26 TPH each.

Metro is not wedded to running the line down I-66. As planning continues, WMATA will do studies to determine the best location for the new line. It could be along I-66, or it could follow another corridor, but the concept is the same. By separating the Silver and Orange lines, WMATA can increase capacity to match the expected demand in northern Virginia.

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. 

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This makes a ton of sense, which is probably why it will never happen. :)

by Joe in SS on Dec 16, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

WMATA has looked at this option before. They included stations at North Glebe and at Lee Highway, in addition to a set of extra platforms in a new Rosslyn complex.

They also included an option to connect the Orange by-pass to the counter-clockwise loop via Arlington Cemetery; this one followed the I-66 right of way around the edge of Rosslyn:

http://planitmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/orange-line-bypass-map.pdf

In this case, I don't think following I-66 is a big negative. Stations at North Glebe and Lee Hwy have development potential.

by Alex B. on Dec 16, 2013 11:53 am • linkreport

Metro's loop proposal is ridiculous. I'm a frequent Metro rider who lives near Franconia-Springfield. I often use the Blue and Yellow Lines to travel further towards Maryland without having to transfer. The loop will be confusing not only to tourists (who are already quite clueless), but also to Washington, D.C. natives. I just think there is a more efficient and streamlined approach that continues the tradition of an easy-to-navigate system. People don't want to have to worry about whether their train is moving clockwise or counter; they just want to be assured of an end destination that includes their stop along the way.

My proposal is that if the tracks and stations that would make up the loop are needed to increase carrying cappacity, why not find a way to run the existing lines along said tracks in a way that would not cause one to worry about direction; just end destination. For example, the southern half of the loop would carry blue and yellow designations. At Capitol South, blue would break off and continue along the Orange Line towards New Carrolton and end up at Largo as it does now. The Yellow line would continue north along the east side of the loop until breaking off to share with green at Mt. Vernon Sq. Silver would run along the north side of the loop and share the east side with the yellow until Union Station or L'Enfant to run along Green or Red.

In the end, there are just better ways and I hope Metro doesn't take this too far and let their well-designed system get out of hand.

by Levi on Dec 16, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

I agree with Levi - this seems unnecessarily complicated.

Most of the additional stops on this loop would be on the long ago proposed separated Blue Line - it looks like just the Supreme Court and Potomac Park stations would not be and FWIW I think an advantage of a separated Blue line is it could include a stop on H St NE.

And why not run the separated Blue Line as four track system that carries both the Blue & Silver Line so all 3 lines have their own tracks? If the separated Silver Line runs in the I-66 median with no stops between WFC and Rosslyn perhaps it could express to Farragut and Union Station and shorten the trip time to WFC/Dulles by 10 minutes which would be a big capacity bump and inducement for folks to use Metro.

And the Streetcars should be providing more of the circulation within DC anyhow.

I also think 2040 as a roll out date for this is a big mistake and shows a lack of ambition - we need this capacity today.

WMATA ought to be talking about 2025 for a separated Blue Line and 2040 for a separated Yellow Line (which potentially could include the Supreme Court stop).

by TomQ on Dec 16, 2013 12:16 pm • linkreport

To follow up my previous comment, what ever happened to this proposal? I think this was along the lines of what I was going for:

http://images.greatergreaterwashington.org/images/200804/metro20303large.png

by Levi on Dec 16, 2013 12:16 pm • linkreport

Why don't they add an east-west line underneath Columbia Pike rather than a few blocks away from Wilson?

by Jacob on Dec 16, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

Has there been any discussion on doing this in phases, like the original system and then the Silver line was done? I could imagine them building the new tunnel from Rosslyn to Connecticut Ave. and then opening that leg as they work on the other parts. Would they really wait all the way until they build the whole thing before opening up parts of it?

by TM on Dec 16, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

"Metro's 2040 projections indicate the need for a new line in Northern Virginia."

You don't need to go out to 2040 to realize we need more capacity in Northern Virginia.

But a separate, express Orange line could be pretty good IMO, because it's one option that at least leaves open the possibility of additional stations west of Vienna down the road.

by Joe on Dec 16, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

Levi, in response to your follow-up question, this proposal actually includes almost all of that one, but now acknowledges the fact that the Green Line is getting crowded as well.

Matt, while I like the idea behind calling the alternate Silver the "Gold" line, I could see that color causing additional confusion as it is similar to Yellow and/or Orange; maybe it would be better to use something more distinctive, like Pink?

by Adam S on Dec 16, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

A columbia pike metro line wouldn't necessarily make a journey from Tysons/Dulles to DC quicker though which is an oft-used criticism of the silver line currently. Which is also why you wouldn't want to add another five stations along the new ROW either.

by drumz on Dec 16, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

The Virginia bypass is going to be a complete waste of money without some serious changes to land use. I had to walk to a friend's house in Clarendon yesterday, about .7 miles from the Metro stop. Blocks upon blocks of single-family homes in the immediate walkshed of heavy rail transit. What a waste! And that's with a buried subway line and before getting into the nightmare that is highway median transit.

Not extending a separated Blue Line down H Street is such a wasted opportunity, especially with the ability to then run it up through Trinidad, Langston Carver, etc. (Although that Union Station connection remains critical.)

Overall, I'd like to see a version of this with an absolute barest minimum of interlining. What is the smallest number of colors/service patterns that can be shown here? Running four lines around in a loop implies a nice, frequent service with express trains (to me, at least). We all know that neither of those are happening.

Why is 26tph the max? I know the system can do 90 second headways (i.e. 40tph) in recovery only, but there's gotta be some way of squeezing in, say, 31-32tph.

by MetroDerp on Dec 16, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

As a former Chicagoan, I really cannot understand those crying "this is too complicated." As was pointed out in the earlier thread, the "line transformation" is really quite simply handled.

The I-66 express line can offer express service to either the Dulles or the Vienna terminals. Imagine the Silver Express going to 772, and the Gold Express going to Vienna (or Fair Oaks). I-66 has median space available today, and offers an express route; building miles of elevated track isn't anywhere near as expensive as tunneling a subway under Columbia Pike, and also offers a chance to stick Fairfax & Loudoun with much of the bill (since it's their riders who will benefit).

Speaking of subway, with TBMs it costs 2X as much to do four tracks as two (not the case with cut & cover, which is not how this will be built due to rocky geology). Might as well use that capital to build longer tunnels, rather than more tunnels.

by Payton Chung on Dec 16, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

I can not see Arlington or Virginia agreeing to help fund this extent of new rail while completely ignoring development potential along the new line. Yes, it benefits Virginia residents who work in DC or vice versa to be able to skip Arlinton's Orange Line stations (marginally), but to run this amount of new rail along Lee Highway and not include at least a couple new stations seems to be a non-starter. I think you at least have to have a couple, which eliminates part of their purpose.

by xtr657 on Dec 16, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

You could look at it another way: by eliminating the Silver-Orange interlining, an I-66 line doubles capacity to Tysons, Reston, Loudoun, and Vienna. Tysons, in particular, needs far more than 1/2 of a heavy rail line.

To sweeten the pot, this could be folded into an Orange Line western extension.

by Payton Chung on Dec 16, 2013 12:51 pm • linkreport

Here is my contribution to the debate. Two silver express options, maybe three depending on how you look at it.

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z4VwWq_PV8ls.kAQnwgzd4vOs

by NikolasM on Dec 16, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

I am a little confused. Wouldn't a there need to be 4 tracks between where the silver and orange lines meet just east of West Falls Church and where the new express tracks split from the existing orange and silver lines?

by Reuben on Dec 16, 2013 12:56 pm • linkreport

Arlington might well want the new development and additional stations, Fairfax and Loudoun would almost certainly prefer the faster run to Rosslyn and DC.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 16, 2013 12:56 pm • linkreport

Bring the south and east portions of the loop into the core employment district and I think you have a winning proposal here.

by jonglix on Dec 16, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

The new line would allow up to 26 trains per hour (TPH) to run on the Silver Line as well as on the Orange Line, for a total of 52 TPH passing through East Falls Church.
Wait, this is possible? With the kind of dwell times necessitated by the door shortage on Metro cars?

I can't imagine they could possibly maintain better headways than what we already see in the tunnel. So we're still constrained at EFC to 26/hour, only now we're underutilizing the orange line tunnel since it ends up with less than 26/hour. What have we gained?

by Gray on Dec 16, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

@Reuben, @Gray:
"The new express corridor would run ***alongside*** the Orange Line in the median of I-66 from the junction with the Dulles Airport Access Road until the Orange Line splits off to follow Fairfax Drive."

Two new tracks would be constructed in the median of I-66. It would be a 4-track line between K&N Junction and Fairfax Drive.

East Falls Church would have 4 tracks, as well.

by Matt Johnson on Dec 16, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

@NikolasM - I like your thinking, but I see a bypass line (colored whatever) running along route 7 south and then turning along 395 towards the Pentagon, then over the Yellow Line bridge.

by JDC Esq on Dec 16, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

There is room to run trains here, in the median of I-66 in North Arlington? There isn't a lot of room to widen - lee highway boxes in 66 here.

http://goo.gl/maps/CdeDF

I don't see it working without lots of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to change the highway.

by Nick on Dec 16, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

This loop would be a waste of money, as a previous GGW article pointed out. Loops and "U"s are inefficient, so adding a loop to a spot with "U"s will just compound Metro's problems. Maybe (big maybe) WMATA will invest some more money to increase capacity and reliability on all lines and try some more efficient routes, that I would be interested in.

by bk on Dec 16, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

I wonder if discussion of the loop and a new Metro Potomac crossing should be tied to the discussion regarding DC's height limit?

I understand the system is over capacity at rush-hour (I've walked out of Faragut West to take the 38B bus a number of times in years past), but is the cost involved to build a whole new line under the city justifiable without higher density?

Related, what about considering diverting Silver after Courthouse to the Pentagon, at which point it could go down I-395 to serve Shirlington, Park Center, Mark Center, and Landmark? (Other commentators probably know better than me whether the cost of building rail over 395 would be equivalent or greater than a new route under central DC.)

Just a concept from an Alexandrian, frustrated with the 7A/E/F/B/C/X, etc. Metro bus lines - feel free to poke holes! :-)

by Rich 'n Alexandria on Dec 16, 2013 1:39 pm • linkreport

They're related but since the height limit is essentially an internal limit in DC as it's most constrianed by zoning and the loop is mainly to the benefit of workers from out of town commuting in they mind not be easily conflated in the minds of residents. If anything this will require sustained involvment from the business side of things for either or both to ever happen. Of course new development that goes into DC could be seen as taking away from MD or VA so those with vested interests outside of DC might not be as inclined to support it.

by BTA on Dec 16, 2013 1:44 pm • linkreport

Quite frankly, it would be a much better idea to just build a new metro line along US-50. From Middleburg to Annapolis. That's how you increase capacity. Lots of infill changes as well all along the route.

by Jasper on Dec 16, 2013 1:47 pm • linkreport

I think value recapture from added height (as well as other sources) is the key to financing the DC share of this or similar improvements.

Since this is a 2040 plan, there is plenty of time to incorporate value capture for transit (and a more sophisticated build out analysis) into the next go round of the Height Act.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 16, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

If the loop is going to take a silver line express and the blueline they really should invest in a better train control system that can handle more than 26tph for the loop.

Separate as many of the current lines from their clumped up status and use the existing infrastructure at 26tph.

Any new tunnels, like this loop should support close to 40tph.

by Richard on Dec 16, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

If a new, more direct tunnel were constructed between Union Station and the future Long Bridge replacement rail span over the Potomac River (via L'Enfant Plaza) for intercity (Amtrak) and commuter through services (VRE/MARC) and future high-speed rail, Metro's future loop line could utilize the First Street tunnel currently used by Amtrak/VRE.

The Union Station long-term development plan doesn't address the idea of rerouting First Street Tunnel rail traffic through a new, more direct tunnel via L'Enfant Plaza, but such a project could potentially help Metro in the process.

Relocating intercity rail through a new tunnel could help the national high-speed rail network (including electrification south of Union Station) and allow Metro to use existing infrastructure in its quest to build its much needed (but very expensive) 2040 core expansion project.

I'm not totally convinced new stations needed are at East Potomac Park or the Supreme Court. Georgetown can likely get away with one station instead of two, depending where the curve from M Street NW to the new Potomac River rail tubes near the Key Bridge starts. The Georgetown station(s) might need to be elevator-only because of their depth.

If an express bypass route through Arlington is constructed via Lee Highway and/or I-66, limiting the number of stations might actually make it more of a true express route versus a long local route. But if Arlington wants more density in the Lee Highway corridor, a Metrorail corridor with stations in Cherrydale and in the vicinity of Glebe Road would be very good infrastructure investments for North Arlington. (But the easiest alignment would be via I-66.)

by Michael_G on Dec 16, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

@ Richard - 40 tph in one direction? That's not plausible because it takes at least a minute for passengers to board and exit a train, especially at peak periods. If it took 1 minute 30 seconds for this process to occur, then you would have trains backing up already.

by JDC Esq on Dec 16, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

@Jasper
Quite frankly, it would be a much better idea to just build a new metro line along US-50. From Middleburg to Annapolis. That's how you increase capacity. Lots of infill changes as well all along the route.

Not a bad idea.

Start at 495, go through Annandale and Bailey's crossroad then up to US 50 to meet the Orange Blue at Rosslyn and allowed the blue to also join it there then went through georgetown, up to Dupont and logan cirlce then down to union station and then out through Trinidad and Langdon to meet the orange line at Cheverly. I doubt it would need to go out past New Carrolton any time soon. Possible extension to Burke VRE.

by Richard on Dec 16, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

@JDC
I am not sure how the ADA might pervert train station dwell times in the US but in other parts of the world there are metros that stay on the platform no longer than 30 seconds and 1 minute between trains.

by Richard on Dec 16, 2013 2:16 pm • linkreport

@ Richard:Start at 495, go through Annandale and Bailey's crossroad then up to US 50 to meet the Orange Blue at Rosslyn and allowed the blue to also join it there then went through georgetown, up to Dupont and logan cirlce then down to union station and then out through Trinidad and Langdon to meet the orange line at Cheverly.

No. All along US-50. From Middleburg/US-15 along the horrily choked part of US-50 along South Riding, Chantilly, Fairfax City/GMU, Annandale, Seven Corners, Fort Myer, the National Mall, NY Ave, Landover, and further to Annapolis.

by Jasper on Dec 16, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

Just because we have a loop system, doesn't mean every train has to use the full loop, nor do you need to fully utilize each and every inch of the track equally and/or fully.

I threw together one conceptual system (Here's the link) for a partial loop system. Basically, it'd be the following routes:
-Silver Loop (Dulles to clockwise loop, 8 TPH during peak hours)
-Blue Loop (Franconia-Springfield to clockwise loop, 8 TPH during peak hours)
-Yellow Line (Huntington to Dulles via DC, 10 TPH during peak hours)
-Brown Line (Huntington to Dulles via Arlington Cemetery, 8 TPH during peak hours)

With this configuration, not only can I do routes to stations inside the loop without long waits, but many trips that don't even touch downtown become possible. It's also a lot easier to understand than four loops - there's two loops (one for each direction) and two through lines.

by Aaron Z. on Dec 16, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

@NikolasM
I had the same Idea along with creating the "gold line" that would connect Huntington to Dulles. This would be a VA only single seat from Pentagon and south to Tyson and Dulles.

by Will on Dec 16, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

@Richard:
I am not sure how the ADA might pervert train station dwell times in the US but in other parts of the world there are metros that stay on the platform no longer than 30 seconds and 1 minute between trains.
Sure, but those systems have train cars with sufficient numbers of doors. Here, WMATA has decided that some hypothetical slight safety gain from having fewer doors is worth any cost in loading times. So we get far fewer doors than other systems.

Plus WMATA remains unable to use automatic train control, and because drivers can't be trusted to open doors correctly they're now forced to delay opening them even after the train reaches the platform. This is not an operating organization that has much concern about dwell times.

by Gray on Dec 16, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

@Gray
Sure, but those systems have train cars with sufficient numbers of doors. Here, WMATA has decided that some hypothetical slight safety gain from having fewer doors is worth any cost in loading times. So we get far fewer doors than other systems.
Plus WMATA remains unable to use automatic train control, and because drivers can't be trusted to open doors correctly they're now forced to delay opening them even after the train reaches the platform. This is not an operating organization that has much concern about dwell times.

The other places in the world I have been have the same 3 doors per car. They dont have 4 seats abreast, they have seats lining the walls.

I was saying that while it might take a while before Metro could return to automatic train controls on the whole system any new line like the loop should be designed to only run on automatic to facilitate more trains per hour.

by Richard on Dec 16, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

@ Jasper:

Can't disagree a line all along Rt. 50 would be great, though I think you start to lose the density argument right after Chantilly.

by Joe on Dec 16, 2013 3:08 pm • linkreport

Metro has "essentially completed" all of the work necessary to return the Red line to ATC. It's waiting for NTSB approval to do so. Next up is completing work on Orange/Blue lines. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/despite-red-line-milestone-metro-has-no-timetable-for-returning-to-automated-trains/2013/12/14/ed6200e0-634f-11e3-a373-0f9f2d1c2b61_story.html

by JDC Esq on Dec 16, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

@ Joe:Can't disagree a line all along Rt. 50 would be great, though I think you start to lose the density argument right after Chantilly.

Have you been on US-50 there? Around rush-hours, it is stuck. Outside of rush-hour, it is nearly always busy. They are widening US-50 there, and it won't help a bit. And they are still building more McMansions.

Remember, the goal of transit is to reduce congestion and move people. That often goes hand in hand with high-density, but not necessarily. The density around a lot of outer stations is low, despite very high usage. Rush-hour Blue Lines regularly leave Franconia-Springfield without available seat. Seats are nearly always full by the time a train hits King St.

The people are there in South Riding.

by Jasper on Dec 16, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

Assuming the Silver Line, Purple Line and DCs two main streetcar lines are done by 2020, this could be on the table for 2030 maybe, though 2040 is probably more within the realm of probability.

by BTA on Dec 16, 2013 3:30 pm • linkreport

What about Seven Corners and Bailey's Crossroads? Surely not all of Virginia's population growth will be in the outer suburbs, will it? Or is there no hope of fixing that so we just have to funnel people from there faster?

by Omar on Dec 16, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

Fairfax County has designated both Baileys Crossroads and Seven Corners for redevelopment, which will include higher density mixed use. Baileys will be served by Pike Rail, if and when that is completed. As noted, there is a study of rte 7 which will likely result in some kind of transit ROW, possibly an extension of Pike Rail, from Baileys to Seven Corners to Tysons. It would likely also better connect Seven Corners to the nearby EFC metro station.

Its unlikely that the densities coming to seven corners and Baileys will be enough to justify heavy rail, even with a horizon of 2040.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 16, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

Jasper - the LoCo rural zone starts at rte 15. There is little development beyond. If its congested, it may have to do with the two lane road. Certainly not volume sufficient for heavy rail.

I would also be surprised if the density beyond South Riding was close to justifying it.

Note South Riding will only be a few miles from the 606 station on the Silver Line in LoCo. From Chantilly its only a few miles to the Innovation station on the SL. And, in the other direction, a few miles to whatever transit solution is determined for Centreville.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 16, 2013 4:34 pm • linkreport

Pros and cons to this proposal.

First, the express line along 66. I used to live at Washington Blvd/N. Glebe Rd. and it was a short walk to Ballston Metro. The area around this intersection is mostly residential and really doesn't support any need for a station. I realize it's an "express" between EFC and Rosslyn, but hardly necessary.

Second, the new line on I St, SW/SE loses a direct connection to L'EP, as well as two lines, the yellow and the blue, to this busy interchange. Also, the connections at Waterfront and Navy Yard to the green line require nearly a quarter-mile walk.

I'm all for expanding capacity at the core, including a loop idea, but if Metro is going to spend billions on new tunnels, it had better do its homework.

by Mark on Dec 16, 2013 4:58 pm • linkreport

This is the first time I've noticed the 'Supreme Court' station. What a terrible idea. Capitol South is already an underutilized station and this would double down on that. There's no way any infill development will go up within 2 blocks of the 0-300 block of East Capitol Street. (and really, not until one is east of Lincoln Park)

The eastern side of the loop should either stay west of the Capitol or link up hill east and one of the stations along Penn Ave, then onto the Navy Yard. Or (gasp, oh noez) go East of the River and link Anacostia or Skyland into the mix. (right now, the Green Line's bizarre alignment makes the travel distance between Suitland and Potomac Avenue probably the longest between any two stations that close in geographic proximity)

by Kolohe on Dec 16, 2013 7:02 pm • linkreport

@ Kolohe

You have a point about Suiltland & Potomac Ave, but its also all the lines in PG County they are quite close in distance but hard to get between via rail or bus.

I would go about built connections between each of the lines at points where they are close together but dont connect maybe throwing in a station here and there and two tracks places where there is only a single track or single direction junction

Suchas the following
Green/Yellow/Red between Columbia Heights & Cleveland Park or Van Ness,
Blue/Orange/Green between Capitol South & Navy Yard
Blue/Orange on Benning RD so that train could go from New Carrolton to Largo
Green/Yellow between Waterfront & Virginia
Blue/Orange at Rosslyn

Minnesota Ave, Deanwood, Benning Road are very close to each other for stations not downtown on separate lines and the same goes for New Carrolton, Largo, Morgan Blvd, Landover and Addison RD.

I Believe the Blue and Orange lines cannibalize each other by having there stations so close together. I would bet that if there was only one line in that general area it would have much higher numbers that the Orange and Blue lines do; it would probably be nearer to the Orange Line in Virginia or the Red Line in Maryland.

Deanwood, Addison Rd & Suiltland are basically on the same road.

It also doesn't help that many stations in Prince George's County are not near where people live, Cheverly, Landover, New Carrolton, PG Plaza, Greenbelt,Suiltland, Branch Ave, Naylor Rd and to an extent College Park, Addison Road,

Deanwood is pretty close to Rhode Island Ave & Brookland you could probably drive between then about 10-15 minutes via 295 and route 50. Close enough that there should be bus service especially considering it would add only about 5 minutes if that much to the routes of buses that end in Ft Lincoln and would be an alternative to the X2 for people going west of the Anacostia.

I have always felt that the Orange and Blue Lines should have split up there instead of on Benning Rd.

I would have had the one of the lines go straight down Penn Ave , Branch Ave to the current Naylor RD Station and follow the Green Line route to Suitland , then along Suiltland RD to Marlboro Pike then down Marlboro Pike to the Beltway.

The second line take the route of the Blue line to Capitol Heights, but with a River Terrace Station along the route considering there would be no Minnesota Ave or Deanwood Stations; then have it go along Martin Luther King Jr HWY , Sheriff Road, Brightseat Rd, then back toward New Carrilton and then ending in Lanham closer to Doctors Hospital.

For the Green Line after Anacostia turn left go up Good Hope Road, south along Alabama Ave, cross Oxon Run Park to United Medical Center, down Wheeler Road, Owens Road, to Livingston RD then Oxon Hill RD to end where Livingston Shopping Center is.

I cant think of one PG County metrostation that was built in an already built neighborhood that had more than dozen buildings at the time of construction.

by kk on Dec 16, 2013 9:47 pm • linkreport

In fairness, Suitland Federal Center has been an office concentration area since WW2. In theory, it could have been another Pentagon City. In practice, not so much.

by Kolohe on Dec 16, 2013 10:39 pm • linkreport

@Matt
The new line would allow up to 26 trains per hour (TPH) to run on the Silver Line as well as on the Orange Line, for a total of 52 TPH passing through East Falls Church.
If the existing system with a 90 second headway train control system can only allow 26 trains per hour, how are you going to run 26 trains per hour on a branch with a 135 second headways train control system?

I don't know what WMATA has in mind at K&N junction. In order maintain maximum throughput at the junction it will have to be configured in a way to allow 4 trains, 2 in each direction to move through the junction simultaneously without crossing the path of another train running in the same general direction to get to its final destination.

by Sand Box John on Dec 16, 2013 11:00 pm • linkreport

Is there a reason that the gold/silver couldn't just be one line going one direction around the loop (say, Silver clockwise), and the blue/yellow could then just be one color going the other way around the loop (say, Blue counterclockwise)? Would seem far simpler to me. Why do both lines have to come in and split off in both directions when they hit the loop?

by Jack on Dec 17, 2013 3:08 am • linkreport

I should point out that for cost reduction measures, the silver line is only being built to 135 second headways. So basically another 45 seconds off of the rest of the system. So basically the signaling and the TPSS infrastructure would have to go through a major upgrade in order to increase frequency on the Silver Line to existing headways elsewhere in the system. I'm not by any means calling that impossible, just saying that even though it's a brand new line, there will be required improvements so that the line can perform at the levels of the others, costing a couple hundred million dollars more.

by Dan on Dec 17, 2013 3:23 am • linkreport

I think there's a less-confusing way to run this loop: all yellow/blue trains become an "outer loop" that goes counter-clockwise from Pentagon to SW DC and so forth, while all orange/silver trains become an "inner loop" that runs clockwise from Rosslyn through west end and so forth. The pro would be easier signage and clarity; the con would be a need for commuters with a one-seat morning commute to be willing to switch trains once in the afternoon or else endure a long carousel ride around the loop. I'm not in love with the loop versus GGW's recent alternative post, but it's fascinating to consider the options.

by Graham on Dec 17, 2013 6:04 am • linkreport

@ Jasper:

Yes, I believe I wasn't clear in my initial post. After Chantilly (being South Riding) is where the outer limits of sprawl are in my eyes. Yes, I've been through that stretch of Rt. 50, and I do agree that the widening won't do much, especially when you consider the amount of approved but not-yet-built housing that Loudoun has in its pipeline.

But Middleburg is a different story in my book. Even Aldie I feel is too far out there to justify heavy rail. I think if you wanted to go that far west a I-66 corridor would make more sense. Haymarket/Gainesville is in the same latitudinal ballpark as Aldie and is a lot more dense, plus it would naturally come with bringing access to places like Fair Lakes, Centreville, and Mannasas.

Of course once we start talking about this we need to accept that it probably won't happen in our lifetime and bringing VRE to western PWC is much more realistic. But I do like the idea of Rt. 50 transit.

by Joe on Dec 17, 2013 7:56 am • linkreport

@Graham

The problem with your routing is that it requires far more transfers. Having one line from each branch go each way around the loop (i.e. silver/blue same direction, orange/yellow same direction) means people further down the branches can wait for their proper train at their starting station rather than being forced to make a transfer every time.

Your way also means that you would not be able to ride the loop clockwise through Rosslyn or counter-clockwise through Pentagon, necessitating more transfers.

by MLD on Dec 17, 2013 8:03 am • linkreport

Briefly, Ed Tennyson & I propose a "Copper Line".

It is an express line, single track at grade down the median of I-66, double track elsewhere.

The parking garage at the high school would be rebuilt into an elevated double track station (used for passing on the single track). The transfer station from Silver & Orange would be just west of Harrison and be two tracks over two tracks.

An optional terminus for the Copper Line would be at 7 Corners.

The Copper Line could either merge with the Rose Line on M Street in Georgetown or at Washington Circle.

more this afternoon

by Alan S. Drake on Dec 17, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

I agree with Jacob, a line under Columbia pike all the way to Annandale/North Springfield is well overdue. But it will never happen given that the area is mostly developed already (so no extra tax $)

As for the loop, I would not take away the ability for yellow line trains to reach L'Enfant plaza (or at least connect with it via pedestrian tunnel). It will make someone's commute from Alexnadria to Chinatown that much longer. I'd suggest making an additional stop on the loop (L'enfant 2) and not having the loop parallel green line tracks, but instead parallel current blue and orange line tracks until it turns north towards Union Station.

by Chris on Dec 17, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

@ Chris
I agree with Jacob, a line under Columbia pike all the way to Annandale/North Springfield is well overdue. But it will never happen given that the area is mostly developed already (so no extra tax $)

Depends on what your definition of developed is. It could go a lot denser with proper transit

As for the loop, I would not take away the ability for yellow line trains to reach L'Enfant plaza (or at least connect with it via pedestrian tunnel). It will make someone's commute from Alexnadria to Chinatown that much longer. I'd suggest making an additional stop on the loop (L'enfant 2) and not having the loop parallel green line tracks, but instead parallel current blue and orange line tracks until it turns north towards Union Station.</> This is assuming that all yellow line trains stop going to the green line. You could have 20 green line trains and 6 yellow line trains going through l'enfant to greenbelt and then you could have 20 trains per minute going around the loop.

by Richard on Dec 18, 2013 4:59 pm • linkreport

How about this realignment:

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2009/11/19/stretching-the-limits-of-washingtons-dense-core/

It's basically the separate blue line but with a line from Tysons under rte 7 to Bailey's then under C. Pike to the Pentagon.

by Joe on Dec 18, 2013 9:06 pm • linkreport

It's a good plan, but it wouldn't speed up the trip between Tyson's/Dulles and DC which this addresses and is one criticism of the silver line at the moment.

by Drumz on Dec 18, 2013 9:24 pm • linkreport

Out of curiosity how many people are getting off at Pentagon Station to go there at the Pentagon vs transferring to/from buses there due to that being the only station they serve.

Pretty much what is the amount of people boarding and exiting at a station are staying in the immediate area vs taking a bus/car/shuttle/cab to another area, I feel like when I go to Pentagon all most all the people getting off are going to the bus bays to take a bus to somewhere else.

If most of the people are just going there to take a bus than why cant all of that plus any new lines be shifted to another station such as Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Crystal City which have ample room like has been down in the past with Anacostia?

by kk on Dec 18, 2013 9:53 pm • linkreport

The biggest shortcoming of the loop plan is it leaves out Arlington single largest downtown/urban district - Pentagon City and Crystal City. There is more than 18 million square feet of commercial space currently built or in the development pipeline, not including the additional office and residential planned as part of the Crystal City Sector Plan.

Crystal City and Pentagon City should not be left out of this core downtown circulation. WMATA should consider enlargening the loop to include those two stations and then circle back to the District.

by CrystalCity on Dec 19, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

kk

1. A significant proportion of the people going by express bus to the Pentagon work at the Pentagon. Shifting the bus transfer (that was done after 9/11 when the buses moved to Pentagon City for security reasons) would force those folks to either transfer, or to have a longer walk, which might well lead many of them to abandon transit.

2. I am pretty sure Crystal City and Rosslyn do not have room for the very considerable number of buses. Pentagon City is the only choice, and thats a stretch - I think when it was done in 2001, it was awkward fitting the buses in, and continued development in Pentagon City, and growth in the number of buses, may make that more difficult today.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 19, 2013 10:04 am • linkreport

If most of the people are just going there to take a bus than why cant all of that plus any new lines be shifted to another station such as Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Crystal City which have ample room like has been down in the past with Anacostia?

What is the advantage of that? Pentagon already has the infrastructure (bus bays, pretty direct 305 access) to handle the large volume of buses. What would be the point of moving that somewhere else?

Lots people getting off at Pentagon are going to buses at the bus bays because where else is there to go other than the Pentagon itself? That in and of itself is a reason to put the bus bays there - less crowding/confusion if there aren't other destinations.

by MLD on Dec 19, 2013 10:18 am • linkreport

Rosslyn has bus bays as well. Pentagon has the advantage of being a transfer station, lots of horiztonal room for buses, and is really close to downtown. At any other site you'd have to choose 2 out of 3.

by drumz on Dec 19, 2013 10:22 am • linkreport

I don't think the article has captured what Metro intends correctly.

First off, its the "Orange/Silver" express, not the Silver express. The way the author has drawn the service pattern, only Orange line trains take the original snake through Downtown and Capitol Hill (and I guess then split off with 1/2 to Largo and 1/2 to New Carrolton?). That doesn't jive with Metro's diagrams.

My guess their intention is more like this (based off of Metro's proposed configuration map):

1) Orange line trains split 1/2 in "local" (Vienna through Ballston to New Carrolton) and 1/2 in "express" (Vienna via 1-66 to Downtown loop back to Vienna). This appears to loop clockwise and skip Rosslyn on the inbound leg.

2) Silver line trains split 1/2 in "local" (Phase I endpoint through Ballston to Largo) and 1/2 in "express" (Phase I endpoint via I-66 to Downtown loop back to Phase I endpoint). This appears to loop counterclockwise and skip Rosslyn on the outbound leg.

3) Yellow line trains always take the Downtown loop to/from Huntington, presumably going counter-clockwise to be sorta similar to previous service (with connection to Green line).

4) Blue line trains always take the Downtown loop to/from Franconia-Springfield, presumably going clockwise to mirror previous service until DC and running parallel to it through Farragut.

This causes a LOT of learning needed for VA riders and has some trips that get a lot worse (Old Town to Gallery Place? only possible with a transfer. West Falls Church to Metro Center? 1/2 of existing service with one-seat ride.).

If I were WMATA, I'd consider a couple different patterns.

A) Use a service pattern similar to the above, but
- run all orange/silver "express" through the new Rosslyn station and clockwise through the loop
- run 1/2 of blue/yellow lines counterclockwise through the loop (transfer to clockwise available at new Pentagon), and the other 1/2 up the existing Yellow path to Greenbelt in rush hour and Fort Totten otherwise
- on the remaining 1/2 capacity of the counterclockwise loop, run orange "short local" trains that start at Ballston and hit the original Rosslyn station, entering the loop via the current Blue line's tracks.

B) Create all of the loop trackage, but instead of running looping service, create new color lines that service the endpoints that exist or as planned. All existing lines would remain the same, although service frequency may need adjustment.
- Silver line: as planned between Phase I endpoint and Largo
- Gold line: Phase I Silver line endpoint to Huntington via I-66, Georgetown, Union Station, and Potomac Park
- Aqua line: Franconia-Springfield to Vienna via Potomac Park, Union Station, Georgetown, and I-66
- Additional capacity could be used as short-turns between Rosslyn and Navy Yard (clockwise), Pentagon and Georgetown (counterclockwise), or even just a true "Circle Line."

Simplicity for rider understanding and continuity of service should be the priority, no?

by Vinnie on Dec 19, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

Here's a vastly simpler approach using the same new tunnels and express tracks that WMATA is proposing but without any loop operations, less interlining and clear destination signs:

1. Yellow: Franconia/Huntington to Dulles via Pentagon, Long Bridge, new tunnel to Union Station, new tunnel to Georgetown, new express tracks to East Falls Church.

2. Blue: Pentagon to Largo along existing tracks, with new platforms at Pentagon

3. Orange: Vienna to New Carrolton along existing tracks

4. Silver: Vienna to Pentagon along existing Orange line tracks to Court House then new tunnel connecting to Arlington Cemetery

5. Green: existing route, no longer shares with yellow

6. Red: existing route

This would result in 3 lines (Red, Green, Yellow) with entirely independent operations, compared to two in Metro's loop proposal. The Orange, Blue and Silver lines would be interlined, but would form a triangle providing full coverage to every track segment. This would allow 26 TPH service in every section of the system except south of King St and east of Stadium Armory.

In the future, two new tracks could be extended south of Pentagon; either express to National Airport and King St, or in some other direction such as along Columbia Pike.

by Andrew on Dec 21, 2013 9:10 pm • linkreport

Why is the NOVA connector assumed to be Route 7? It seems Glebe Road could be just as good. At any rate, hopefully the Arlington Cemetery spur can be closed taking the blue line out of Rosslyn if either is built.

by Tom Coumaris on Dec 23, 2013 12:13 am • linkreport

Glebe makes more sense because there is lots of density there already, greater potential for more in te future, and home to several commercial nodes that isn't really present on glebe. Not nearly at the same scale at least.

by Drumz on Dec 23, 2013 7:22 am • linkreport

(Sorry I'm late to this discussion; I'm behind on GGW.)

The other places in the world I have been have the same 3 doors per car. They dont have 4 seats abreast, they have seats lining the walls.

Then you've never been to New York. New York has a number of different car types, but many of them are either 51-foot cars with three doors per side, or 75-foot cars with four doors per side. WMATA's cars are 75 feet long with three doors per side, with a predictably dismal impact on dwell times.

by TimK65 on Dec 31, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

Omar, NikolasM, JDC Esq, WalkerintheCity, Joe - about 10 years ago, Metro undertook a capacity study in anticipation of congestion in the Rosslyn Tunnel and the added load of the Dulles Rail Line. The study first proposed the loop and a second line to relieve the Orange in Virginia. As I recall, there were some expensive engineering issues with using the I-66 right-of-way - the track had to be up on an elevated structure. At the time, I think the Arlington County Board passed a resolution in support of the Route 7 / Columbia Pike alignment.
It may make sense now to go through Seven Corners, Baileys Crossroads, Marc Center and Shirlington, rather than down Columbia Pike.
Jasper - totally agree that the US 50 right-of-way could be improved to increase capacity. BRT, rail, grade-separated interchanges, whatever delivers the most bang for the buck. It could be incremental, such as getting rid of stoplights, delivering reliable 24/7 transit, then upgrading transit capacity with BRT or rail. The Commonwealth paid for a study for capacity increase in the I-66 corridor that totally ignored potential upgrades along US 50 or US 29.

by John H on Jan 30, 2014 5:11 pm • linkreport

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