Greater Greater Washington

Budget


WMATA considering 50c, core-only peak-of-the-peak fare

WMATA staff will evaluate the MetroRiders.Org/Greater Greater Washington/Coalition for Smarter Growth recommendation to replace the generalized peak-of-the-peak charge with one of up to 50¢ that only applies to trips in the "congested core."


Diagram of Metrorail crowding by Matt Johnson.

At yesterday's Board meeting, Arlington's Chris Zimmerman brought up the letter from the three groups and praised their approach of using specific objectives to guide fare policy rather than the untargeted, blanket proposals in the General Manager's recommended fare increase.

At his urging and with the assent of other members, staff agreed to examine a more targeted peak-of-the-peak fare. The press gave this proposal widespread coverage. Fox 5 interviewed me for a TV segment that ran on last night's news. but their site is down at the moment.

The system is particularly crowded during a single hour in the morning and evening peak, and in a small core section. Therefore, it makes sense to charge extra for trips in that area, during that time, but not for those people who are riding from Franconia to King Street and aren't taking up the most precious space.

Where should the charge apply? Based on Matt Johnson's terrific analysis of system crowding, I'd suggest applying it to trips that start, end, or pass through stations from Dupont Circle to Union Station, Rosslyn to Capitol South, and Pentagon to Gallery Place. Below are several alternatives and a rough analysis of their value.

1a. Charge at the busiest stations

Ideally this charge would only hits riders on the most crowded segments of the system, since the goal is to target only those riders who are using up the most precious space and who, if they switched to another time of day, would better spread out ridership across the system.

One approach would be to only apply it to the busiest stations. Looking just at the stations with the most passenger traffic (scroll down to the table), means that Shady Grove and New Carrollton would be included. But the trains aren't at their most crowded there, it's just that those stations have a lot of boardings.

1b. Charge at the busiest stations by morning exits

How about looking at exits in the AM peak? Click on "Exits" in that table to sort in that way. The top 19 stations are basically contiguous, which would apply the congestion charge to anyone getting off the system at any stations from Dupont to Union Station on the Red Line, Rosslyn to Capitol South on Orange/Blue, Crystal City to Gallery Place on Yellow and Blue/Yellow, or Navy Yard to Gallery Place on Green.

Anyone boarding at one of those stations in the AM peak, like a bus rider who transfers at Pentagon to go to King Street, wouldn't pay. Likewise, the evening rush would only apply to those who board at one of the stations in question. You could also argue for removing Crystal City, since the trains aren't particularly crowded along the Yellow-Blue segment there.

However, this doesn't hit riders who ride all the way through the congested core. They are taking up room on the busiest trains as well, and it makes just as much sense to create an incentive for a Grosvenor-Suitland rider to avoid the busiest times as a Grosvenor-Dupont ridermore, actually.

2. Charge for trips to, from, or through core stations

Another approach, therefore, would be to apply the charge to riders whose trips pass through the busiest stations as well as start or end at them. Then it wouldn't be necessary to count some more outlying stations like Navy Yard, since anyone going there from or through downtown would pay anyway, and people riding there from Congress Heights aren't contributing to congestion.

This is the approach I recommended above, and would apply to 17 stations, from Dupont to Union Station on Red, Rosslyn to Capitol South on Orange/Blue, L'Enfant Plaza to Gallery Place on Yellow/Green, and Pentagon on Yellow or Blue.

This would catch the through riders. It would also catch some reverse commuters who aren't contributing to congestion, like anyone going outbound from Dupont Circle, Pentagon, Rosslyn, or Capitol South, where the trains in that direction aren't crowded at all.

3. Charge for trips through the busiest segments

A more complex alternative would be to look at the segments themselves; we have Matt Johnson's analysis of which segments have the highest crowding. We could charge only people who are riding on one of those busiest segments, in the direction(s) where they are busy but not in the reverse direction.

Based on that, we could apply it to Glenmont-bound Red Line trips from Cleveland Park to Gallery Place, Shady-Grove bound trips from Union Station to Farragut North, Orange or Blue Line eastbound trips from Virginia Square to Capitol South, westbound Orange/Blues from Eastern Market to Metro Center, or Yellow trips from Pentagon City to Gallery Place.

Any trip passing through one of those segments would get charged. If WMATA implements this charge by simply looking up the trip in a table of start and end points, it's technically easy; for any station pair, we can tell whether that trip does or does not pass through that area in the proper direction. However, it'd be confusing to explain to riders.

Therefore, the simplest yet fairest approach would probably be to designate the 17 stations I listed and charge for any trips to, from, or through those stations in the busiest time periods.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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This sounds pretty complex. Has any other transit agency tried this?

by Matthias on Apr 30, 2010 12:29 pm • linkreport

Ugh this would suck for me. I commute from McPherson Square to Tysons Corner every day on mostly empty orange line trains and a bus. My reverse commute will probably end up costing me over $10 now. Oh well.

by inlogan on Apr 30, 2010 12:37 pm • linkreport

inlogan: That would be an argument for the 3rd option, since Orange Line westbound isn't very crowded after Metro Center and a segment-based charge wouldn't apply to any trips westbound from McPherson.

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2010 12:48 pm • linkreport

The first option is just silly: most of the busy endpoints you mention are within fairly easy walking distance of a less busy station. I could see people just getting off at Eastern Market rather than Capitol Sout, and pushing the congestion further out into the system.

I don't honestly see the third option being that much more difficult to explain than the second, and even if people only understand enough of the third to think it operates like the second, it still helps to ease congestion, and is so much more fair to people like inlogan.

by Lucre on Apr 30, 2010 12:50 pm • linkreport

I can get behind a $.50 charge on a very narrow window - say, 8 to 8:30 in the morning - or something like a $.10 or $.20 charge over a wider window, like 7 to 10am. But such a large charge, over such a long period of time, seems punishing. I think most people would have trouble structuring their work days to avoid it... Coming in after 9 would do it, but that seems like it would be unacceptable to most employers.

Couldn't focusing this on busy areas also possibly push development back toward the suburbs? If people turn to their cars to avoid Metro's charge on downtown, they might get used to driving to work and be more willing to drive to jobs in the suburbs? Metro could encourage people to expand their options to cars and hurt itself in the process.

by Eric O. on Apr 30, 2010 12:52 pm • linkreport

Appreciate the thoughtfulness of this post. You obviously want to help Metro out of a jam, but what makes you think Metro is capable of managing this sort of complexity? They can't even get drivers to turn on/off nextbus so that it works well.

I just wouldn't trust Metro to come close to getting any of your ideas even half right.

And let's say they did start this. Think of the delays at the exits as people checked carefully on the little displays to see how much was charged each time. So much for tap and go Smartips.

by Jeremy P on Apr 30, 2010 12:59 pm • linkreport

As I said before, this is predicated on the feds ponying up for this. I think the original PoP fare proposal was supposed to bring in $5 million. Not sure how much this is supposed to bring in.

The time window is too large, especially in the evening. Most of those station aren't crowded by 4:30. Narrow it to an hour (5-6) or even narrower (5-5:30).

This excessively penalizes shorter metro rides. People in Arlington, in particular, should drive into work instead.

by charlie on Apr 30, 2010 1:00 pm • linkreport

Way, way too complicated. Sorry, this is just getting to a be a mess. So we would have fares that vary based on three different time slots (regular, peak, peak-of-the-peak), distance, and now based on entry/exit/pass-through stations but only at certain times? Yikes!

While I hope that people could adjust (possibly) to a peak-of-the-peak fare, I think it's a little nuts to charge more for passing through a core station when the system is designed in a hub-and-spoke fashion. People may be able (emphasis on may) to adjust their working hours but it would be very difficult to change an office location. This would harm the employees of all these businesses and agencies that located in high-density areas specifically because they heeded the call of urban planners and chose to develop transit oriented development. It would be a slap in the face to say, "Yes, thank you for paying higher rents and for dealing with the relative complexity of operating in dense urban areas. We are now going to reward you and your employees by charging more to get there." Welcome to the end of downtown D.C.

by Adam L on Apr 30, 2010 1:06 pm • linkreport

Here's the question - let's say you put this in place; what percentage of Metro's peak users end up having to pay this surcharge?

My guess is that it's a pretty high percentage. Which makes it seem more like political maneuvering to avoid saying we're having a bigger fare increase.

I also have concerns that the proposed mechanisms aren't all that focused on the actual peak of congestion within the system - they miss either the reverse commute or the timeframe is mismatched.

by Alex B. on Apr 30, 2010 1:11 pm • linkreport

You could have a lesser "tax" if you increase the fee for those using paper farecards, who slow the system more than those using plastic.

(This would also discourage tourists from travelling during the rush hour)

by SJE on Apr 30, 2010 1:17 pm • linkreport

Alex B: yes, a lot of users might be paying, but if it encourages them to travel outside the PoP time you would improve the service overall.

by SJE on Apr 30, 2010 1:20 pm • linkreport

Personally, I like Option 3... figuring out what stations to charge & the time span doesn't seem like a big leap, especially considering Matt has done a good chunk of the work for them. And since every O-D pairing is already its own price & the website is able to calculate fares... it doesn't seem like a major leap to be able to get out the info.

Heh, Shoupifying our rails... a goal of 85% occupied at all times :P

by Bossi on Apr 30, 2010 1:23 pm • linkreport

I see. We're contemplating a congestion charge on Metro riders, but not on drivers. This has the merit of originality.

by jim on Apr 30, 2010 1:25 pm • linkreport

I do exactly what inlogan does, and I feel exactly the same. I pay a real premium in commuting time because I hate the reverse rush hour on I-66. I know that in the long run I'm saving money versus driving, but I don't see why I should pay a $ premium for the privilege of helping Metro and VDOT balance their loads.

by mark on Apr 30, 2010 1:28 pm • linkreport

Any peak-of-the-peak fare system -- whether it's "simple" or "complex" to those who think of us who want to know how it all works -- will require a third column on the printed fare list at the farecard machines -- we'll now have "reduced," "regular" and "peak" fares. 99% of riders just look at that fare list, just like looking at a price tag. They don't want to know what rules created the prices, as long as none of their community leaders are calling the rules unfair.

So it doesn't matter how complicated the system is that comes up with the fare list: As long as no group in our community is slighted, the fare list can be tweaked and balanced any way that works best.

I live in Greenbelt but my teenage son goes to a public school near Prince George's Plaza. When I have some extra dough, I pays for him to ride the bus ($1.35) to Greenbelt Metro, and then the Metro ($2.05 minus the 50-cent transfer) to PGP -- total cost, $2.90. When I'm short on money, he has to ride the county school bus, which has no shocks and takes longer than Metro as it inexplicably passes the same mall three times on its route.

If the $2.90 fare goes up, I'll spent less total money on my son riding Metro -- it won't be worth it. If it goes down, he'll be riding it every day. It's going to take some guesswork to determine at what price Metro will reap the greatest total fare on these suburb-to-suburb single-line Metrorail trips, but it may well be less than $2.90. The bus runs anyway and the Green Line is never packed between Greenbelt and Prince George's Plaza. It's possible the current reduced fare of $1.45 is the correct Metrorail fare all day on that segment.

by John Stith on Apr 30, 2010 1:33 pm • linkreport

This would seem more "fair" if people had alternatives to riding through the stations getting taxed. Going from King Street to Court House, for example, requires that you take the Blue line past Pentagon, and then switch at Rosslyn to the Orange line. Sure, you could make the same trip with about 3 or 4 buses, but since that takes at least an hour and a half (compared to 20 minutes on Metrorail), you might as well drive.

I am much more in favor of upping the paper ticket price, as someone else suggested. Tourists will still take the Metro because it will still be cheaper than a cab and because some of them have never been on one before so it will be fun and exciting for them anyway. To encourage the residents to switch to SmarTrip, Metro should stop charging five dollars for buying the card and just give it away the way Boston does. Considering the card probably costs about a dime to make, it seems absurd to be charging five dollars for it in the first place.

by Teo on Apr 30, 2010 1:57 pm • linkreport

I'm in favor of upping the paper ticket price, too - but I don't think that would generate much revenue at all. IIRC, something like 85% (or some other high percentage) of Metro users already have SmarTrip. It's the buses where there's less SmarTrip usage.

by Alex B. on Apr 30, 2010 2:09 pm • linkreport

@Teo: The cards cost about $3.50, according to a previous post I wrote.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=1496

by Michael Perkins on Apr 30, 2010 2:14 pm • linkreport

@Teo

The charge is $5 per card because it allows people to take a trip on a negative balance. Currently, a user with 5 cents left on his or her SmarTrip could theoretically take a trip that costs the full fare of $4.60. That would, in effect, encourage people to just get new cards and never refill SmarTrips that have a negative balance.

by Adam L on Apr 30, 2010 2:15 pm • linkreport

#1 doesn't make sense at all - #2 and #3 are more effective, but #3 is the best from a rational economic point of view.

I worry that changing the fare structure like this (so that fares will change over space and time) will make things so complex that nobody will be able to understand it, let alone respond to it rationally. With too much variation in fares, tapping out through a turnstile may feel like pulling the lever on a slot machine - you never know what you're gonna get!

Excellent post, however.

by Just161 on Apr 30, 2010 2:16 pm • linkreport

I agree with Teo's suggestion. Apart from the part that encourages tourists to not travel during the busiest times, upping the papercard prices might also encourage tourists who travel during peak hours to buy SmarTrip cards, which would be a bit of extra Metro revenue. Plus, the SmarTrip cards are more durable than papercards, which is an incentive to keep using them on subsequent trips -- or possibly passing them along to others who might visit the area. (I keep an extra SmarTrip card for visiting friends and family, and they certainly appreciate it!)

by sg on Apr 30, 2010 2:19 pm • linkreport

WMATA is, in fact, planning to make paper farecards cost more than SmarTrip.

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2010 2:20 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins

I'm honestly surprised that they cost that much. Either Metro is getting ripped off with the contract or the cards are a lot more complex than I imagined them to be (although I saw one taken apart and aside from the RFID chip and an antenna, there didn't seem to be anything going on). The company claims to have set up a similar system in other cities such as London, Chicago, New York, and Sydney, among others. A quick check of the London and Chicago systems show that they both charge for their cards as well... kind of. Chicago gives away the card the first time around but then charges $5 for a replacement. London charges 3 pounds (about $5) for its "Oyster" card but it is refundable. I wonder who designed Boston's CharlieCard and how they are able to afford giving it away...

by Teo on Apr 30, 2010 2:43 pm • linkreport

@Teo: Part of the problem is that the SmarTrip cards are an older proprietary standard, and WMATA is locked into a single-source vendor. WMATA got into the smart card business earlier than most transit agencies, so they didn't get to take advantage of what later became the ISO standard cards and readers. I'm sure if WMATA could bid out their cards to anyone that could make them compliant with ISO 14443, they'd be quite a bit cheaper.

To my knowledge, WMATA has finished changing out all of its old proprietary-only card readers with new readers compatible with the new ISO standard. That means it's now a software problem to get ISO standard cards, rather than a hardware problem. Installing NextFare 5, expected by July, should make this a bit easier. Metro's already talking about upgrading turnstiles to accept PayWave and other contactless credit cards, which use ISO 14443.

That is, if I understand how all this stuff works from board presentations, conversations with metro staff and customer service staff, and internet research.

by Michael Perkins on Apr 30, 2010 3:05 pm • linkreport

@Teo: They're a bit more complex than RFID chip and antenna, it's a microprocessor and memory on there rather than just a dumb ID number. Rather than your fare value living on some WMATA server and the card ID number being used to find the record to increase or decrease your stored value, the card is instructed to increase or decrease its own internal memory of how much value you have. These transactions are protected with cryptographic algorithms to prevent tampering with the stored value by unauthorized users.

MIT students exploited a weakness with the charlie card system a while back and were able to write arbitrary values to the card. This was because the cryptographic key used to authenticate users was extremely small, and a physical brute force attack (creating 64 different cards encrypted with each possible key, then testing them to see which one was the "right one") was able to break the encryption and allow access. When they pointed out this problem to MBTA, they were sued.

by Michael Perkins on Apr 30, 2010 3:10 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins; I believe the smartcard updates are part of the capital budget proposals that WMATA wants to axe based on the Maryland lowered contribution.

A chance for zimmerman to stand up and say Arlington will fund those next-gen smarttrip card by themselves if they say "arlington rules" on them? ;-)

by charlie on Apr 30, 2010 3:42 pm • linkreport

@charlie - As an Arlington resident - NO! Please do not increase my taxes anymore, they already passed a 9.5% increase in property taxes -- which will amount to a larger bill than last year as my (assessed) value barely went down.

by Arlington1 on Apr 30, 2010 4:11 pm • linkreport

I agree with Bossi. There are several comments saying that a peak-of-the-peak charge will be a disaster for ridership and downtown business activity. But the peak-of-the-peak charge is worth doing if a good balance can be found.

Higher fares will reduce ridership on the most congested segments, which will make the travel experience more pleasant and trains move more efficiently. That in turn will keep demand for peak-of-the-peak trips high, ensuring that revenue from fares more than offsets ridership reductions. Shoupifying our rails is a good way to describe it.

And John Stith is right: People look up their fare based on the start and end stations. So it doesn't matter how complicated the underlying fare scheme is.

But take a page from the gasoline retailers and call the fare periods Regular, Plus, and Premium.

by Steve T on Apr 30, 2010 5:34 pm • linkreport

The current Smartrip card is a 14443 card. The so called ISO standard is a bit misleading. All current cards have proprietary issues. The target update will allow more cards to handled but it doesn't magically happen and doesn't happen without cost. Paywave and paypass cards have the additional problem of not allowing the system to write to the card and thus requires special handling on the backend. The metro system will need to change cards regardless of other additions since the chip will no longer be available.

I find this debate about peak fares incredibly biased against the suburban commuters. This is just a back handed attempt by DC to install a commuter tax.

By national income standards neither bus nor rail riders would be considered disadvantaged. Bus riders need to and should pay higher fares.

by Interested on Apr 30, 2010 6:11 pm • linkreport

@Interested: Seeing as the funds raised by a targeted peak-of-the-peak surcharge would go to WMATA and not DC government, would be paid by all affected riders regardless of their home state, and is not in the form of a wage or income tax, "commuter tax" is not a term that applies here.

by Stephen Miller on May 1, 2010 12:30 am • linkreport

The problem with "demand-related" charges (cars, Metro, etc.) is that it isn't very forward thinking. people shouldn't be penalized for riding transit, esp. if they already have to stand for the whole trip. people who live in cities shouldn't have services penalized for coming to them (e.g., trucks motoring in). Instead, we should be making it more directly expensive to live in a sprawlburg. Have congestion pricing for leaving the the beltway on major, hard to circumvent thoroughfares and use the money for inner ring road maintenance and Metro--50/50.

by Rich on May 1, 2010 11:38 am • linkreport

They should toll all the bridges during peak period to help fund 8 car trains and extra buses. NYC does not have a problem with doing it.

by mcs on May 1, 2010 2:10 pm • linkreport

I don't think it is fair for us to pay more to go through the core when they run late so often and get jammed up. I often end up adding at least 10 minutes to my commute because the metro trains are waiting for another one to move or they have a "schedule change" which means they are backed up and need to change things.

Seriously, they say we who go through the core are causing this, but they don't offer good service! Why should we pay more for crappy service and the metro is always running late!

by Dee on May 3, 2010 12:04 pm • linkreport

@Dee:
One of the reasons that trains get backed up so often in the core is because so many people are using the train at that time. If 10% of riders shifted their travel by 15 minutes to either side, the crowding would ease and delays would lessen.

Think about it this way. If you try and take the freeway at 5p, there's going to be traffic. Just like if you go to the deli right at 12 noon. If the freeway charged a little extra from 5-5:30, you might stick around and get coffee after work, and the congestion wouldn't be so bad for the people who didn't change their behavior.

by Matt Johnson on May 3, 2010 12:08 pm • linkreport

@Matt Johnson:

With the "peak peak" hours, I really wonder how many can avoid it. What are the hours of the Peak? I really wonder who can actually change their schedule that much. Why would I want to get to work at 9:30 and stay until 6pm? We leave early so we can actually have time in the afternoon. I just feel like we already pay for coming in from further our (Silver Spring) and I don't think the ridership will change much. Some of us don't have a choice. At this rate, it might be cheaper for me to drive in to work.

by Dee on May 3, 2010 12:18 pm • linkreport

@Dee:
Depending on how it's structured you could get to work at 8:45 and leave at 4:45. Then you'd get even more time in the afternoon.

The reason that Metro is looking at a peak-of-the-peak fare is because they need to raise money. The alternative is running fewer trains. Would you be happy with that alternative instead?

Since you live in Maryland (as I do), I would encourage you to contact Governor O'Malley. $29M would be all it would take to stop service cuts and keep any fare increase off the table.

I don't think the peak surcharge should be $0.50. 10-20 cents would be a good deterrent to get people to change their behavior and raise money.

by Matt Johnson on May 3, 2010 12:41 pm • linkreport

@Matt Johnson:

I understand how why they need to raise money. And thanks for the heads up on who to contact. Depending on these "peak of the peak" fare times. I just find that it will make a more annoying/difficult commute. We take the metro to make things easier. Times are hard, people are becoming more $ conscious. Yes, I agree, 10-20 cents is fine with me, but $.50 is too much.

by Dee on May 3, 2010 12:49 pm • linkreport

Excellent post. I love this approach because it relies on real usage data and not anyones feelings or vague scenarios.

I'm not sure I agree with the language 'congested core' since the system is designed so that the core can't be anything but congested. I'm also not sure that riders who are citizens of surrounding areas should be charged more as a usage fee when their taxes are already going to fund WMATA. Being nitpicky like that though broadens the field to the entire states, not all of whose citizens use WMATA services. You could argue that those citizens in outlying areas aren't paying enough for the infrastructure they occupy/consume so should pay heartily to support good city/urban infrastructure.

Anyway, I think if 'congested core' 'peak of the peak' charging is going to happen that it should be time, location, and direction of travel based. Don't charge the reverse commuters the markup but do charge the people traveling in the move congested direction at the time slots.

Thanks for a thoughtful post!

by James on May 3, 2010 2:02 pm • linkreport

All these problems could be fixed by just raising the entire fare. Its easier for people to understand and will effect all not just some.

By instating a peak of peak fare only the low and the low and the middle of the middle class will be effected

Most upper class jobs offer the ability to choose your work schedule

All low class jobs are by the hour and require you to be there at a set time which you can not decide. Most low class jobs operating within business hours except for fast food and thus they would definitely be effected.

No lower class job gets transit subsides therefore they pay there fares out of pocket and are the most effected. Whether it be Fast food, Daycare (excluding corporate managed Daycares),Teaching,Cleaning,Retail etc none get any type of allowance for travel.

Middle class jobs depending on the employer, profession and job title you may or may not be able to pick your hours. You may be paid by hour or have a salary which is not based on how many hours you work.

by kk on May 3, 2010 7:25 pm • linkreport

Perceived problem, Metro is TOO successful in attracting ridership. Stupid solution, surcharge riders who are time constrained by employer work scheduling so some of them will drive. Actual problem, trains/platforms too short, cars don't have enough doors, station designs inhibit traffic flow. While in the short term operating cash may be the issue (MD, VA, Feds, each crying poor waiting for the others to blink) the real issue is raising capacity.
Chicago just finished lengthening the platforms on their Brown Line to increase trains from 6 to 8 cars.
SERVE YOUR MARKET!

by david vartanoff on May 6, 2010 1:54 pm • linkreport

@ david vartanoff

You just got me thinking up about the design problems dealing with WMATA.

1 Gallery Place - who the hell came up with the design for the station.

2 Placement of elevators through out the system - they took no thought into that issue just placed wherever at the last minute.

3 Interoperability of the system - It seems like the buses and trains are apart of separate companies due to the fare system no pass for both of them, the way bus routes are set up, transferring between the two.

by kk on May 6, 2010 7:05 pm • linkreport

@kk:
#1: Gallery Place has several design constraints which force it to be awkward.

The Green/Yellow Line is under 7th Street. The Red Line is under G Street but curves southeast immediately east of the station in order to cut diagonally through Judiciary Square so that it can approach Union Station from the southwest and be parallel to the tracks.

Now, the Green/Yellow mezzanine intersects the Red platforms underneath the intersection of 7th and G. The Red platforms can't be centered on this point because of the curve of the tracks. The Green/Yellow platforms can't be centered on the Red Line because they're under 7th Street.

It's not perfect, but that's why it's like that.

#2: Metro was not supposed to have elevators. The system was designed so that 100% of vertical movement would take place on escalators. Later, some escalator proposals were cut back into stairs to save money.

The system was well under construction when an injunction was put in place requiring elevators before a station could open.

That meant that all of the Red Line stations from Dupont Circle to Silver Spring, Blue Line stations from National Airport to Stadium-Armory, and Orange Line stations from Ballston to New Carrollton had to have elevators put in wherever they would fit.

At Silver Spring, for instance, one escalator was taken out to be replaced with an elevator (in design at least, I don't know than an escalator had already been installed). At McPherson Square, the elevator would only fit so that it exited into the corridor beyond the mezzanine.

You can find these sorts of examples throughout the oldest parts of the system.

#3Metro was not designed to be intermodal. Like BART, it was just a rapid rail authority. When DC Transit failed, somebody had to take it over, and it was decided Metro would be that agency.

But they never really took any steps to have real integration, at least beyond having bus routes feed and connect to Metro stations.

by Matt Johnson on May 6, 2010 7:15 pm • linkreport

@ Matt Johnson, Well, actually routes were changed to encourage Metro use--routes which had been expresses to downtown became feeder locals to Metro Stations. WMATA treats the buses as stepchildren. Montgy County invented RideOn because WMATA service was inadequate and over the years Metro bus routes have shriveled so Ride On has expanded. Of course there is NO fare integration.

As to the elevator stupidity, Given that BART had already been forced to put them in (opened first segment 4 years ahead of Metro) Metro was just stupid. I will grant that as Schrag pointed out rational engineering was often stomped by various art/architecture/park commissions, I remain a fan of shallow tunnels/stations. Much as I treasure the IND (still haven't needed to stretch the original platforms!), the IRT with a single flight to platform from street is both elegant and quick. BART in the Mission exemplifies overly deep stations with no discernible benefit to the riders.
'Course WMATA holds world records for deepest stations, longest escalators, no cheers.

by david vartanoff on May 7, 2010 11:29 pm • linkreport

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