The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


What Metro could be in 2100, if our priorities were different

Reader thisisbossi created a fantasy Metro map with a LOT of lines:

He writes,

Yes, this is an absolute pipedream... hence the [title "DC 2100"]. While I laid these out to be at least somewhat technically feasible, everything shown would still require immense amounts of funding, right-of-way, and political will.
That's true, though this map also brings to mind another heavy rail system that does exist:

Paris has more lines than even thisisbossi's map, and in a smaller space, too. It's just that there, the political will exists to build some of the best transit in the world in a nation's capital city, while here, at least a significant part of one major political party would spend absolutely nothing on transit or the capital city.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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I'm just trying to figure out how you'd get four lines to go through pentagon without limiting the capacity of the system.

It's a dream. Thanks for putting it together.

by Michael Perkins on Jan 23, 2011 10:39 am • linkreport

I think maybe go a bit further south on the now-pink and yellow lines, but otherwise, on board.

by Matthew on Jan 23, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

I like the idea of the yellow line heading up 29 in MD. Even it if only went to white oak so many less people would need to drive into silver spring which is very over crowded with cars.

by Matt R on Jan 23, 2011 10:51 am • linkreport

Extending the Red to Olney and the Yellow to Columbia are musts in any extension 90 years down the road. Both of those lines have to expand north given how much more those areas (and beyond) are going to grow post-ICC.

by JP Wallingford on Jan 23, 2011 11:03 am • linkreport

I don't believe the largest impediment to this plan is funding, right-of-way or political will. The largest impediment is that we currently have a system that is imploding on itself. We have failed to successfully develop a system that is effective and efficient at deploying resources. The current system is a funding black hole. Pension benefits and health care costs are sinking the system but we stick our head in the sand and pretend that the problem is not enough funding. Funding is not the problem. Reasonable cost controls are lacking. We move money from the capital budget to employee benefits which in turn results in a system that is not maintained like it should be and is decaying faster than we are rebuilding it. The WMATA system has huge problems that are not even being acknowledged let alone effectively addressed. If this was a business we would be trying to figure out how to make it smaller to minimize the problems rather than making it bigger which only enlarge the problems. With Sarles as the next GM, it is likely that we won't even get started in addressing the problems until he retires. It's nice to dream big but right now given the status of WMATA thinking about expanding Metro is more of a hallucination than a dream.

by Jim on Jan 23, 2011 11:06 am • linkreport

None of us are gonna be alive in 2100, so who gives a damn?

by Shadow Inc. on Jan 23, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

Metro could look like that in 20-30 years if we we're like China or Japan, they seem to build whole new lines every 5 years.

by Shadow Inc. on Jan 23, 2011 11:17 am • linkreport

Hopefully, none of us will use the line "well they do it like that in Paris" to argue our point to a Republican. Remember "freedom fries"?

by thump on Jan 23, 2011 11:25 am • linkreport

@Michael Perkins - I imagine that Pentagon would need to expand to a 4-track cross-platform interchange style station for it to work. At least that's how I've imagined my own fantasy Metro map.

by Herbie on Jan 23, 2011 11:26 am • linkreport

Unfortunately our priorities in DC apparently seem to be affordable housing rather than funding transit. Imagine if the large tract developments at SW Waterfront, Hilleast, Poplar Point, Northwest One, etc were instead asked to fund transit infrastructure improvements to metro or streetcar rather than large amounts of subsidized housing.

by Jason on Jan 23, 2011 11:49 am • linkreport

Anyone work out the three-letter station codes?

by Bob See on Jan 23, 2011 11:53 am • linkreport

You might want to avoid using the core section of the Red line as a trunk line (i.e. the Red/Teal complex north of Tenleytown). I think the Red below Grosvenor is already running at 90-second intervals during rush hour. If you add the Teal Line, some of those trains would have to divert away from downtown. Perhaps a really good interchange station at Tenleytown would get the job done; and extending the Teal to Chevy Chase Circle and Silver Springs would create a connection between NW and eastern MoCo.

If we want a connection between GTown and western MoCo, then we should extend the Purple Line all the way down the CCT, and then run it on to the K Street Transitway. j/k.. that was a joke.. that would never happen.

We should have a Dream Metro Map Exhibition. Who hasn't created those maps on slow days at the office?

Also (BTW) I'm not the "Steve" that GGW removed the other day.

by Steven on Jan 23, 2011 11:56 am • linkreport

A tiny bit disappointed that PG County got almost no love, but there's several reasons for that, though.

by Mike on Jan 23, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

This is not a future-dream map, this is a should-be-now map. The only thing that's missing is expansion further out. We should be connected to Fredericksburg, Manassas/Culpepper, Leesburg, Frederick/Hagerstown, Baltimore and Annapolis.

by Jasper on Jan 23, 2011 12:08 pm • linkreport

Trinidad to Georgetown?! Good luck with that. Georgetowners would block the route, saying it wrecks multi-generationalism or something like that.

by aaa on Jan 23, 2011 12:12 pm • linkreport

Not only does Paris have the "political will" to build more heavy rail, but Paris is willing to permit much higher population density than DC. The restrictions on lot occupancy and building height that we have in Washington makes Paris levels of density impossible and that, in turn, makes intensity rail building impractical.

by Matthew Yglesias on Jan 23, 2011 12:19 pm • linkreport


Don't include the federal height limit in your calculus. Central Paris' maximum height is around 66 feet (iirc), while ours averages out to about 90. If ever portion of the District were at that maximum height, we'd have a population around 7-8 million and be far more dense than central Paris.

by OctaviusIII on Jan 23, 2011 1:09 pm • linkreport


Pensions and OPEBs are a drain on the system, and I don't want to minimize the importance of better management. BUT I think WMATA is caught in a cycle: they don't have high-quality management in place, so we won't give them more money; but even excellent managers will need more money to run the system well.

No matter if you have Jeffrey Immelt or Jack Welsh or Warren Buffett running the system, they do need more money.

@Pretty Much Everybody Salivating Over the Map

It looks cool! But the costs of building a system like this are large. Mind boggling, shockingly large. At the margin, we do need to invest in our system. This might be going overboard.

And frankly, I'm not sure WMATA could handle the expansion. The COG-BOT report outlined chances in WMATA governance that have great potential. Rather than having our heads in the clouds, we should get behind concrete changes that will have lasting, positive effects and a realistic chance of happening in this universe. Maybe like a dedicated source of revenue from an increase in local gasoline taxes.

by WRD on Jan 23, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins-

Completely agreed w/ Pentagon & Pentagon City. I may try and think of how to rework that. To copy/paste a part of my write-up: both stations would need *major* reconstruction. Given that the Department of Defense owns one and the other is built into a major mall: both locations face some big problems.

I'd tried to avoid running anything directly under Arlington Cemetery, as I'd assume that even though it'd be far deeper than 6 ft under; it'd still likely face its own brand of political challenges.

@JP Wallingford-

I could be inclined to agree, especially since many of the lines already stretch out so far; but my fantasy light rail system quite thoroughly covers those reaches, as well.


Good point- I may see if I can rework it somehow to take off some pressure on the Red Line a bit earlier on & perhaps improve connectivity between NW and eastern MoCo.


PG got some more on the Green line in addition to the Pink and Cyan; along with a Silver connection. Not much extends too far past the Beltway simply because PG County's land use configurations outside the Beltway don't lend toward well toward heavy rail... I tried several alignments but couldn't get any to work. I instead have PG Co. quite thoroughly covered with light rail, but even then their land use patterns were tricky to work with... it's just too spread out & their dense areas are located in such a manner that it's exceedingly difficult to fit in transit lines (National Harbor being my biggest gripe).


Yep, I agree that would ignite quite a bit of vitriol :)

by Bossi on Jan 23, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

Don't include the federal height limit in your calculus.

The federal Height Act isn't the main issue (though there is La Défense and the Tour Montparnasse to consider), it's the fact that building heights are much more severely constrained in most of the residential portions of DC than they are in Paris. The point is that Paris has over 54,000 people per square mile. If we had 3.3 million people living in DC, then obviously we'd have the tax base to support a much more expensive physical infrastructure.

by Matthew Yglesias on Jan 23, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

My vision for DC in 2100 would entail making greater use of existing commuter rail lines around DC and build some light rail systems to feed the existing Metro & current and future commuter line systems.

I don't think it is fair or appropriate to compare DC to any other european city. The urban tissue here is completely different!

by Vincent Flament on Jan 23, 2011 1:20 pm • linkreport

Hopefully by 2100 there will be CaBi in Rosslyn.

Also, we'd need narrower lines on the map...

by Gavin on Jan 23, 2011 1:36 pm • linkreport

@Vincent Flament-

Here's a link to my Google Earth files showing fantasy light rail (kmz file) systems throughout MD... I haven't dabbled too much with it in DC or VA yet, but that's among the next things on my To Do list. That file is a tad old -- I've refined some more lines since then -- but the general idea for most of the lines is there. I still need to rework it to reflect the fantasy Metro lines in this article's map.

I also have a Google Earth file for fantasy Circulators (kmz file) ... my mind is often trapped in fantasy, it seems.


This was my first time using Illustrator: I narrowed the lines a bit from the original base map, but the whole thing could definitely stand to benefit from the talents of someone a bit more deft at graphic design.

by Bossi on Jan 23, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

Adding more lines feeding into the center, without adding extra capacity in the center, is a recipe for even more gridlock than we already have. I'd want to put in more capacity and redundancy on some of the routes we already have, such as adding an extra line of track in case there is a breakdown, tunnels between lines, etc.

by SJE on Jan 23, 2011 2:11 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins-

Wow, I hadn't seen that before... nice to know I'm not too far off my rocker; a lot of similar ideas. I've noticed a common trend among both WMATA's document as well as other fantasy maps out there of running the Blue Line between Thomas & Convention Center... personally I was a bigger fan of hitting Dupont and Logan; I felt Thomas was subsequently quite close to plenty of stations. ...Though I definitely would've preferred to hit Convention Center instead of Shaw.

Also, I'm not too familiar with the Virginia side of things... how critical is the Rosslyn-Cemetery connection? My plan nixed that completely... that's something else that's been on my mind quite a bit.

by Bossi on Jan 23, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

Main disappointment: no Yellow Line extension to Ft. Belvoir. Which is one of the more realistic Metrorail extensions out there right now.

by Froggie on Jan 23, 2011 3:24 pm • linkreport

For Jim (earlier poster): I'll bet Paris and other world systems manage to pay for their transit employees' pensions without a problem. The general tax-paying public in Europe manages to picks up the tab; newsflash to the John McCain anti-transit camp mentality: public transit will never be run "like a business" is one of the supposed benefits of having a government provide public services. The problem with our government is that it doesn't know how to balance it's own checkbook. And spends way too much on wars among other things, as well as letting the Wall Street housing debacle go unregulated all those years and bankrupt the country.

by Geoff on Jan 23, 2011 5:36 pm • linkreport

This is tiny, but Shady Grove's missing.

And yeah, PG County needs work in the Development/Land Use department. Oh well. Inside the Beltway needs it most, and it got it. The link to BWI's nice too, so I don't have to pay the godawful $6 to get to the airport. (Usually take MARC anyway, same price, but faster.)

by Mike on Jan 23, 2011 6:22 pm • linkreport


Ahh crikey, thanks for spotting the missing Shady Grove... just an oversight on my part.

by Bossi on Jan 23, 2011 6:24 pm • linkreport

It should be "Potomac Yard". There is no "s". I only mention that because when I link to it, I will get that very same complaint.

by Kevin Beekman on Jan 23, 2011 6:48 pm • linkreport

@Kevin Beekman-

Thanks! I didn't know that; I'd always referred to it with as plural.

by Bossi on Jan 23, 2011 6:52 pm • linkreport

Re: PGC Lines - any chance you could run a line from Eisenhower Ave to National Harbor?

And how about a Green Line extension to Andrews?

by Shipsa01 on Jan 23, 2011 7:10 pm • linkreport


National Harbor is poorly located such that there's no feasible way that I could come up with to serve its main parcel with heavy rail. The Beltway parcel can be, but even when it eventually gets built up: there won't be much attraction there. Oxon Hill Farm simply isn't a huge draw, though the eventual PGA course might bring a bit more to offer. There's also not much else out there to justify running a line along the Beltway -- hence why my Brown Line tucks into SW instead of southern Prince George's.

As for Andrews:

I plotted a couple alignments to try and get to its gates, but the most feasible one seemed to necessitate some less-than-convenient changes to their railyard at Branch Ave. Given that AAFB has a pretty excellent shuttle service (ride the reverse commute between Waterfront & Branch Ave and it seems every single rider is with the Air Force), it was a bit tricky to justify the cost of the extension... but I do have it drawn up in case my mind changes someday.

by Bossi on Jan 23, 2011 7:45 pm • linkreport

Great Map! I've been meaning to play around with something like this too...
I notice that you have very little faith in the MTA - as the purple line apparently still won't exist 90 years from now. ;-)

by Joe in SS on Jan 23, 2011 7:49 pm • linkreport

@Joe in SS-

This just shows heavy rail; light rail is still only in my Google Earth files. Converting those into a light rail system map may be my next project now that I've learned a thing or two about how to use Illustrator. I may revise this heavy rail map to at least include transfer icons, using MTA's logo at relevant stations & perhaps making up some logos for eventual streetcar connections.

by Bossi on Jan 23, 2011 7:55 pm • linkreport

Yglesias says,

The federal Height Act isn't the main issue (though there is La Défense and the Tour Montparnasse to consider), it's the fact that building heights are much more severely constrained in most of the residential portions of DC than they are in Paris.

Is it? What are the constraints on building heights in most residential portions of DC and Paris? Do you even know?

I suspect that a major reason Paris is so much denser than Washington is because its streets are generally much narrower, its buildings are generally packed much more closely together, and its living and working spaces are generally much smaller -- smaller apartments, smaller stores, smaller offices, etc.

by johnson on Jan 23, 2011 8:18 pm • linkreport

@ Johnson, Yglesias: The main reason why Paris has so many more people is that people live much, much smaller than in the US. A friend of mine who had a decent job at an NGO there lived on 170 sq ft, with a shared bathroom out of her space. It was basically an old maid's room.

We're talking someone with a PhD, couple years after college. She acknowledged happily that living a block from the Seine cost her in space, but the lack of space was easily made up by the location. Me thinks that NYC is the only place in the US where people would accept such small living quarters.

Another friend has a slightly bigger place next to the Centre Pompidou. But he paid dearly for it. So much that he moved quickly a bit further out. He was 6'4" and could not stand the tiny 250 sq ft he had to live on and "paid" by living further out.

by Jasper on Jan 23, 2011 8:52 pm • linkreport

For a map for the year 2100, it is focused too much on the population density centers we have now and mostly inside the Beltway. Just how much has the DC metropolitan region grown since 1920, 90 years ago? Call it a 2050 or 2060 map because that that is about far out as anyone can even guess on long range planning.

The map should have a light or commuter rail or Metro line running along Rt. 7 to Sterling and all the way to Leesburg. The Silver Line gets extended further out by then too. Yellow Line should be extended further south.

Of course, well before 2100, we will have exhausted the world's oil supply and by 2100 will be on the final stages of depleting the last of the natural gas and coal reserves. Either the cars will be all electric and we have found ways to be able to generate a lot of electricity cost effectively w/o fossil fuels or people will need a lot more electrified light rail and street cars to get around by then. Of course, few of us in this forum are likely to be around too.

by AlanF on Jan 23, 2011 8:57 pm • linkreport

Um, I think the additional constraints Matt is referring to are things like the zoning which severely limits the height and lot coverage in most residential portions of the district. You couldn't build anything like the density they have in Paris in most of DC. And that's precisely the point. Sure DC has some density especially in and around downtown, but the city of Paris is 40 square miles nearly completely covered with 5-7 story buildings. Outside of downtown DC, the typical building is rarely more than 3 stories and very few cover their full lot.

by FredInRVA on Jan 23, 2011 9:01 pm • linkreport


That's what I thought. Every time I'm in Paris I'm struck by how small the private spaces are. Small hotel rooms, small bars, small restaurants. I imagine the apartments are very small too. I can't imagine most people in DC would want to live like that.

by jonhson on Jan 23, 2011 9:09 pm • linkreport

Outside of downtown DC, the typical building is rarely more than 3 stories and very few cover their full lot.

But are they legally restricted to 3 stories?

by johnson on Jan 23, 2011 9:12 pm • linkreport

The New York Avenue corridor to the east of the B&O MB Red Line would make sense for new Paris style development partially atop a deck atop a new WMATA line and underground I-66.

So would the Route 1 corrdiros in Virginia and Maryland with the WMATA for instance extended along Route 1.

by Douglas Willinger on Jan 23, 2011 9:12 pm • linkreport

Really great map! I really like some of the concepts here. The brown line is great. I think a slight diversion to include the Mark Center could really add efficiencies for people traveling in from 66.

The duplication with other lines for the teal and pink lines seems like overkill. Diverting the blue line into Georgetown seems like it would pick up most of the benefit from the teal line. Although the extra stops might push higher density development and might cut down on train changes for some travelers. Well thought out map! Let's get it done!

Personally, I really like the idea of connecting the silver line to DCA rather than going directly downtown, but that's perhaps not a great benefit to local folks. I've always thought an express metro train between airports would be cool though.

by OddNumber on Jan 23, 2011 10:10 pm • linkreport

What a farce. Heavy rail is not workable in this area. The new Silver Line is proving that. Total transit use in and out of Tysons Corner is projected to be 17% in 2030 - less than Bethesda and much less than Rosslyn-Ballston or Downtown D.C. Single Occupant Vehicles are the main transportation mode today and will be in the future, even after rail, increased bus service, mandatory paid parking and high-quality mixed use development. Source: Fairfax County DOT and Virginia DOT.

MWAA has recently admitted that toll increases will be insufficient to construct Phase II of the Silver Line. And the higher the tolls go, the more likely drivers are going to abandon the Dulles Toll Road and drive on other roads.

Fairfax County estimates that it will need at least $1.5 billion to fund road improvements - one more lane on the Beltway beyond the HOT lanes; 3-t0-5 more lanes on the Dulles Toll Road heading west; a wider Route 7; a wider Route 123 and a grid of streets. Moreover, once Tysons hits 84 million square feet, all of those roads reach failure every PM rush.

And to widen the Toll Road, there may need to be strip takings including from Wolf Trap National Park and incursion in eight Resource Protection Areas, the removal of more tree buffers and the construction of high flyovers and entrance/exit ramps.

This is not Sim City. This is reality. The Washington Area is essentially built out.

by tmtfairfax on Jan 23, 2011 10:34 pm • linkreport

"The Washington Area is essentially built out." That is the most absurd thing I've read today. The Washington area is barely built out, which is precisely why it is so auto dominated.

And @johnson, I don't know for sure, but my instinct tells me that yes, most of those low density (relative to Paris) are limited to 3 or so stories by zoning. They are also probably limited to something like 60%-70% lot coverage by zoning.

by FredInRVA on Jan 23, 2011 10:44 pm • linkreport

I think there are too many routes changing lines, some share a couple of stations before swapping to another line. Too many routes increase the risk of delays cascading throughout the network. To reduce the risk, line frequencies would be ridiculously low.

Here is my take on a new network. All lines that are not extensions of existing lines would be automated high frequency routes. Orbital routes would have smaller stations to reduce cost and reflect demand. Large underground stations cost huge sums of money. The Canada line in Vancouver only cost $2.1 billion for 12 miles (half underground).,-77.083511&spn=0.138921,0.338173&z=12

by Rational Plan on Jan 23, 2011 10:53 pm • linkreport

Circular rail lines are a waste of money. Just ask anyone who has spend a significant amount of time in London.

Rail needs to be linear not radial.

by movement on Jan 23, 2011 11:39 pm • linkreport

I think you mean that rail needs to be radial, not circumferential. Because radial lines (like what we have now) are linear.

A circular line would follow the circumference of the city, not a radius of it.

by Matt Johnson on Jan 23, 2011 11:50 pm • linkreport

Well, if you want these districts to be rezoned to allow taller buildings and more closely packed buildings you can make your case to the zoning commission. But I suspect you will not be successful.

by johnson on Jan 24, 2011 12:33 am • linkreport


You're now one of several people whom have referenced an express connection directly between IAD and DCA... is there something I'm missing as to why that would be needed? Other than the rare ultra-budget traveler who really knows what they're doing, I just can't see many people flying into one airport, taking a train between, then flying out of another.


Can't say I agree with you on that... NoMa, H St, Capitol Heights, Marc Center, White Flint, White Oak, Takoma/Langley, Rockville/Gaithersburg, Four Corners, Konterra, Hyattsville, Waterfront, Navy Yard, Potomac Yard, and more... all areas currently or in the very near future destined for some major development.

That's only within the next 5-10 years, and there's a lot of space in DC that's still far beneath the height limit; and a lot of space in the suburbs that're still ripe for increased development as many of the suburbs become cities of their own.

I'd hazard a guess that a large proportion of people who follow GGW have only arrived within the last several years, arriving as part of the population growth which the city hasn't been seen in decades.

And as the suburbs continue to grow and place more strain on the roads & as fuel prices rise & environmental awareness expands: it is likely that there will be a greater modal shift to transit from cars beyond simple population-based growth.

So there's plenty of need... we're just grappling with justification. And apart from the roads built on top of horse trails and cattlepaths, most transportation alignments -- especially transit lines -- began as someone's "SimCity idea".


There's nothing that says one particular configuration can and cannot work; it's a function of demand. If the demand is there: it works. I've spent time in London and know plenty of people who have actively used the Circle. Moscow's Koltsevaya Line and Tokyo's Ōedo Line were also quite handy during my time in those places. Even Christchurch's tramway was pretty handy despite being a short loop entirely within the central core. Not every trip is destined for the core, and even lines within the core can help to disperse traffic throughout the network rather than concentrated into specific hubs.

by Bossi on Jan 24, 2011 1:17 am • linkreport

Looks pretty good except that it misses the same problem all other maps do; everyone is not going to down-town DC and many are travelling east-west routes not just north south.

Number one fix before anything separate all existing lines and build no lines which share tracks.

1 Have all lines connect to each other at some point.
2 A line across the Wilson Bridge
3 A line across Rock Creek Park north of Adams Morgan
4 A line across the red line spans.
5 The pink, teal and golden brown routes should be switched in northern DC.
6 The brown line should not go into downtown but around it and it should cross the Anacostia.
7 Yellow line should be a mirror image of the green line sending it into Potomac and Great Falls.
8 Pink line should go to Briggs Chaney where yellow lines goes on map to separate all lines.

What happen to the Purple line?
Why did Southern PG get almost no changes?

What about these areas
Eastover, National Harbour, Montgomery Mall, Andrews AFB, Lanham, Bowie, Waldorf, Ft. Belvoir, Route 1 in VA, Potomac,central Arligton County, Upper Marbolo, Six Flags,

by kk on Jan 24, 2011 2:08 am • linkreport

I agree that WMATA does need more funding and I for one would love to have additional massive buildout of the Metro system. My point was that we should not give metro a dime more until it negotiates reasonable contracts with the union and puts other cost control policies in place. Otherwise, you might as well just put the money down the garbage disposal since it will have no impact whatsoever in improving the system going forward.

by Jim on Jan 24, 2011 9:19 am • linkreport

Circumferential lines do have many uses. True, it is difficult to keep a true circle line on time, because of the lack of recovery time in the schedule. The trick is to have several different overlapping lines.

For a true metropolitan system you need to service all your major centres of activity. So Tysons needs more than one rapid transit line. One should be orbital linking the Red Lines to Tysons, another should cross suburban Fairfax and head for other activity centres, such as Alexandria.

Light Metro systems would suit many suburban routes.

by Rational Plan on Jan 24, 2011 9:21 am • linkreport


I am disappointed in your total disregard for George Washington University, the largest university in DC, the number one private employer and the second largest land-owner in the District. You removed the reference to the university from the Foggy Bottom station and renamed it "Washington Circle," despite the fact that the station is on the GW campus, unlike any other station referencing a college in its name. And the new station you have proposed on the Blue & Pink lines is called "Foggy Bottom" but with no mention of GW. You ignore George Washington University, yet other stations are named for Georgetown, American and George Mason universities. In your plan, the "Washington Circle" station should be named "George Washington University" and the new Foggy Bottom stop on the Blue/Pink lines should GW added to its name as well.

by GWalum on Jan 24, 2011 10:15 am • linkreport

One thought regarding the Rosslyn-Arlington Cemetery connection: by severing the connection, you push a lot of the people living in the relatively high density Rosslyn-Ballston corridor to have to go into DC and then come back out or have to go all the way out to Dunn Loring to get to high density employment areas such as Crystal City and MARC center as well as DCA airport. By utilizing the existing track (relatively short at that) between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery, you help ease that.

by SJ on Jan 24, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

When you all put these maps together - is there a way you could lay them over a Google Map or something like that so we could see how the lines would actually look? Is that even feasible?

by Shipsa01 on Jan 24, 2011 10:32 am • linkreport

Thanks for the feedback- I may retool things a bit to try and preserve that connection.

Yep- these actually all come from a Google Earth file originally, just like the light rail & Circulator links in one of my earlier comments. I haven't updated the shared heavy rail file too recently; I'll try and remember to do that when I get a chance & provide a link.

by Bossi on Jan 24, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

What a bold map! Quite impressive and well thought out.

A couple complaints from the peanut gallery:

1) Western Red Line is going to have capacity problems very soon, so unless you are four-tracking it, I can't see how Teal Line trains fit in.
1a) Speaking of the teal line, I think Richard Layman or someone else envisioned a different alignment that instead crosses Rock Creek Park to serve NE.
2) The commute from the Orange Line part of Arlington to Pentagon just got less pleasant.
3) No Yellow Line to Ft. Belvoir.
4) Periodically people mention extending the eastern Red Line all the way to Olney; is there just not enough development potential in that area?

by EJ on Jan 24, 2011 10:40 am • linkreport

Thanks Bossi - looking forward to seeing that. Also, I second or third the suggestion that David should hold a Fantasy Metro Map (or transportation map) contest or happy hour one day. With the ultimate goal of creating GGW-recommended maps for 2025, 2050 and 2100.

by Shipsa01 on Jan 24, 2011 10:44 am • linkreport

I see your point, for example my naming of American Univ. instead of Ward Circle. Then again, GWU wasn't the only one left out; I also nixed Catholic Univ. I mandated myself to have no more than two words in a name (with a few numerical & acronym exceptions), making it tricky to satisfy everyone near a station... hence my tendency to, in the absence of a single major generator, to defer to neighborhood names or major geographical landmarks.

The names themselves really aren't too critical; I wouldn't focus much on those... those can be changed far more easily, for better or for worse (hence our current lenghty station names). Besides, the stations will be named Pepsi soon enough, anyway :)

by Bossi on Jan 24, 2011 10:44 am • linkreport

I had a realization after reading the Jan. 18 entry about running a streetcar on MLK Avenue in Anacostia.

Streetcars are much cheaper than Metro lines, and have some advantages. The MLK Avenue post convinced me that streetcars can be compatible with traffic, such as along Georgia Ave.

The problem is that funding for even streetcars is likely to dry up given the political environment for the foreseeable future.

The same thing may be achievable on the cheap with bus rapid transit. If the major arterials had bus rapid transit with stations at bumpouts and tickets bought before boarding, it would vastly improve transit without unduly affecting traffic.

With BRT, more lines could be built more cheaply, spreading the benefits of transit more broadly to more communities. Perhaps existing buses could be adapted for BRT, reducing the need for new BRT buses. The BRT infrastructure could be designed so that it could be converted to light rail when the funding materialized and when the neighborhood development spurred by better transit spurs demand for even more improved transit.

This would be a much better use of limited funds than dreaming about new budget-suck Metro lines.

by Steve on Jan 24, 2011 11:11 am • linkreport

@movement: One of the most heavily used rail lines in Tokyo is the Yamanote Line. The radial-only mindset is one of Metrorail's biggest planning failings. Yeah, it unclogged commuter road routes at first, but subsequent development completely negated that. And, they still act as if it's solely a commuter system rather than an intracity one as well; look at the new car series layouts with the same godawful transverse seating for example. Metrorail needs to be a net rather than trying to funnel everyone along a few single paths. But this is all a pipe dream. They're stuck with it, as are we.

by Bob See on Jan 24, 2011 11:14 am • linkreport

WRD said:
"It looks cool! But the costs of building a system like this are large. Mind boggling, shockingly large."

Yes. But let's look at some real mind-boggling numbers. All of these are hypothetical, back-of-the-envelope. So don't quibble with the details; I'm making a larger point.

The DC area has about 5.3 million people and I estimate about 3.5 million cars. For ease of argument, I'm assuming population and cars growth is zero.

- If each car is worth $10k on average, that's $35 billion in personal rolling stock.
- Operating costs are, say, 25 cents/mile on the low end up to 75 cents on the high. At the low end, that's about $6 billion/year operating costs. Over 90 years that would be $720 billion dollars ($2 trillion on the high end).
- Say 8% of cars are replaced each year at a cost of $20k per. That's $5.5 billion per year for car replacement; $500 billion by 2100.
- Donald Stroup says there are 8 parking spaces for every car in US. If we assume a very low $1000 per space, that's $28 billion current value of parking. If we assume a high $20k per space, that's $560 billion. The real value is likely between these two. Given land values in DC, it's probably closer to the higher number.

So we're talking trillions of dollars essentially locked into our automobiles. I didn't even count the opportunity cost of the land the roads and highways sit on, costs of maintenance and repair to that infrastructure, and didn't even begin to consider externalities.

So you don't have to shift a lot of that money to be able to fund a pretty impressive system. That's essentially what Paris does, I have to presume. Car ownership is lower, so people are able to invest that money into their shared transportation systems rather than their personal ones.

We hear a lot about the $2.1 billion the Silver Line costs. That's about what Washington area drivers spend just on gasoline in 8-9 months.

So if you want to talk mind boggling, just look at what we have now. That's the real mind-boggling system.

by Steve O on Jan 24, 2011 11:21 am • linkreport

Bossi, how dare you leave out the name of a university in a fantasy map that's completely nonbinding and wholly imaginative for something we'll never see! Good day sir! I SAID GOOD DAY!

by Steve D on Jan 24, 2011 11:38 am • linkreport

Bossi: Ok, two words: George Washington.

by GWalum on Jan 24, 2011 12:10 pm • linkreport

That's a short hop from:
George Washington (Circle)

In either case, read it as you wish; it's really not a critical piece of the puzzle. I agree with where you're coming from, but it's not something I'm going to put too much thought into at this time.

by Bossi on Jan 24, 2011 12:13 pm • linkreport

Many of the new routes don't work from a cost-effectiveness standpoint, given the density constraints in place. Cyan, for instance, takes a circuitous route through miles of new tunnels under townhouse sections of the District -- many of which have historic-district protections. It misses today's downtown and even just skirts anything which could be construed as future downtown (NoMA and Hill East). There just isn't the upside potential there for heavy rail.

Orbital/circumferential routes are often misunderstood; plenty of people see them elsewhere and think "cool" without understanding why they exist. Most of the ones I've seen (Buenos Aires, London, Moscow, Paris, and Tokyo) distribute passengers through sprawling downtowns from multiple commuter rail terminals that, due to imperial dictate, were located outside the CBD. That situation doesn't apply here. Similarly, many usually aren't run as actual full rings -- doing so invites delays to cascade through the system -- but rather with a radial route deflecting around the ring, then continuing on another radial route.

by Payton on Jan 24, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

Steve O

According to the most recent data from the National Transit Database, for 2008, the cost the WMATA was more than 90 cents per passenger mile (this is just direct costs; it doesn't include negative externalities). This is much higher than the cost of cars.

by johnson on Jan 24, 2011 12:21 pm • linkreport

I LOVE the idea of an inner loop. That's something metro should consider immediately. Even without all your other suggestions, a loop would majorly help with the daily downtown bottleneck.

I also love this map because it would make my life at the Potomac Ave metro stop pretty awesome!

by mj on Jan 24, 2011 12:38 pm • linkreport

WRT EJ's comment, the idea for a brown line was actually M.V. Jantzen's (he produces photo features on GGW) which he sent to me. His orignal concept mostly paralleled the red line eastern leg (and then continued southward into PG County and then west across the Potomac into Virginia), I suggested that it start in Georgetown go up Wisconsin and cut over east and then provide service along N. Capitol (to Washington Hospital Center), and southward as he originally depicted.

David Alpert was kind and did a map version of this for me in 2008:

It shows the Purple Line light rail as well as the use of the Silver Line to drive forward the creation of the separated blue line in DC (rendered in Silver). (Which I first wrote about in 2006:

David Murphy came up with a separated yellow line proposal that at first I was dismissive of because of lack of population density in the upper NW area which it would serve, but I realized that I was thinking too short term, that in terms of density and transit you are planning for 30 to 60 year periods.

E.g., it was not until 25 years later that you could begin to see significantly see impact from WMATA within DC outside of the downtown core. Similarly it was about that amount of time to really see the impact of WMATA along the Wilson Blvd.

-- Dave Murphy's concept separated yellow line:

I would be happy to incorporate Dave Murphy's yellow line idea into my own preferred transit concept map. Granted these lines focus on DC for the most part, and I can't claim to possess enough of a fine grained appreciation for the entire region to take it on as thisisbossi did.

Note that separately for about 6-7 years I have advocated a light rail/streetcar line on Rte. 1. I first suggested it during the streetcar studies, emanating from RI Station, however, a guy on the board of the Gateway CDC made an excellent suggestion that such a line should start at Dupont Circle. It could even start from Wisconsin Ave. down Massachusetts Ave.


As far as some of the further out projections in the above map, I have been very much influenced by Dan M./BeyondDC's conceptualization of a more Paris (or Montreal or London or Greater NYC or SEPTA regional rail or METRA) like railroad passenger service for the region, complementing other fixed rail transit services.

- (Dan's map)

It doesn't have Southern Maryland service pictured because at the time he was doing the map, there was a plan underway to consider light rail service south through PG and Charles Counties.

In any case, I think this kind of conceptualization is important, just that it needs to be considered at a variety of scales, with a variety of appropriate modes depending on the demand, service profile, need for redundancy, etc.


by Richard Layman on Jan 24, 2011 12:46 pm • linkreport

No National Harbor connection and two transfers to get from Rosslyn to the Pentagon (a trip which currently takes about 8 minutes)?

by Catherine on Jan 24, 2011 3:00 pm • linkreport

DC and Paris have nothing in common other than the fact that the 2 are are both very beautiful cities! Instead I would look at Brussels instead (Planning on writing an article about that soon)

by Vincent Flament on Jan 24, 2011 3:09 pm • linkreport

Maybe I'm twisted, but I think it would be funny to print out a few of these to replace the maps in the Metro cars. The regular commuters would get a kick out of it, and the tourists would be confused as hell. Ok, just do it the next time Glenn Beck holds a rally in town.

by Mark P on Jan 24, 2011 3:17 pm • linkreport

This should not only include the Purple Line, but should extend it down through southern Prince George's County to the National Harbor and the Wilson Bridge, to meet up with the Yellow Line on the other side. THAT would be the first step to establishing a "ring line." Although I love the brown line you put in here.

by Patrick Wojahn on Jan 24, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

I wonder if it is feasible to build a metro stop at, say, the corner of 20th St and Columbia Rd to serve as the Adams Morgan stop. Right now there is more than 1 mile between Dupont Circle and Woodley Park, which is a huge distance.

by Scoot on Jan 24, 2011 6:05 pm • linkreport

I've never understood why these fantasy maps don't link IAD and DCA. If I were drawing a fantasy map, the silver line would go to Huntington (actually to Ft. Belvoir) via Rosslyn and Pentagon. The blue line would go from Franconia-Springfield into Maryland somewhere (the way the alternate blue line runs). If you're going to sever the blue line link from Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, you might as well at least keep Alexandria, Arlington, and Tysons connected.

by movement on Jan 24, 2011 8:33 pm • linkreport


To copy/paste from above: you're now one of several people whom have referenced a connection directly between IAD and DCA... is there something I'm missing as to why that would be needed? Other than the rare ultra-budget traveler who really knows what they're doing, I just can't see many people flying into one airport, taking a train between, then flying out of another.

Keeping the Rosslyn-Cemetery segment is something I'll definitely be revisiting.

by Bossi on Jan 24, 2011 8:39 pm • linkreport

Bossi, thanks for asking. There are a number of reasons.

The main reason is that it establishes a clear NOVA business corridor from Ft. Belvoir to the edge of Loudon County along the rail line. If you are coming into town on business, you can get from one end of the corridor to the other easily, flying into our out of whichever airport makes more sense. (Under the conventional wisdom Silver Line into DC, getting from Tysons to Crystal City or Alexandria is awkward, with your model even more so.) Being able to make multiple appointments in a trip without needing to rent a car is quite nice. For longer trips, you can spend the night wherever you want and can easily get to your morning meeting.

The secondary reason is that Rosslyn is such a choke point today that anything to alleviate the choke point is helpful. I guess this is why you diverted the blue line in the first place, but I don't think it is the best way.

A tertiary reason that goes along with your budget traveler anecdote is that linking the two airports simplifies emergency management. For example, today during weather emergencies it really sucks to get diverted to IAD when you were expecting to land at DCA.

by movement on Jan 24, 2011 11:27 pm • linkreport


Thanks! I tried restoring the Rosslyn-Cemetery connection, but then I overloaded Rosslyn *and* the two Pentagons... er, overloaded them even more. I wonder how sentimental Arlington Cemetery is; it'd be so nice to bore underneath that and run the blue & pink straight through (cue the opposition).

by Bossi on Jan 24, 2011 11:36 pm • linkreport

Due to popular demand...

- w/ Purple Line (as well as fixing Shady Grove & Potomac Yard)

- w/ additional LRT systems, showing basic light rail connections on the Maryland side (there's a lot that isn't shown). I haven't retooled it much yet for many areas inside the Beltway nor in DC/VA.

by Bossi on Jan 25, 2011 2:01 am • linkreport

I don't think there is any future with your new blue line (GMU) sharing track with the existing blue/yellow at the Pentagons. Instead of crossing the Potomac at Lincoln Memorial, it could cross further east then link with Union Station from the south rather than the west. Eliminate the pointless outer ring and the problem is solved.

by movement on Jan 25, 2011 8:19 am • linkreport

If the think the NIMBY's are angry at Georgetown U. now, watch them when the Teal Line connects M Street, the university, Glover Park, and the Cathedral, right up 37th Street...

by Box on Jan 25, 2011 2:23 pm • linkreport


I hope you're being a bit extreme with your 'not-a-dime-more' attitude. I do agree with you that pensions and OPEBs are huge problems. I do NOT (and this would be bold, if I knew how to do that) think a scorched Earth, no-more-money-no-matter-what approach is the right way. Metro cannot wave a magic wand and solve this problem. Frankly, I'm not sure the state and local governments overseeing Metro have the answer either-they have their own pension problems.

I don't have an answer, either, only (hopefully) constructive questions and suggestions. If I was temporary God of the issue, I would trade higher cash compensation for defined-contribution pensions. I would also trade even higher cash compensation for a rationalized hire-fire agreement. While I'm at it, local jurisdictions should also throw in a dedicated revenue source, preferably a small ad valorem tax (1-5%) on gasoline in signatory jurisdictions.

I'm not God (thankfully!), but I do think blaming The Unions is missing an important part of the story. Management--not just the Board and GM, but also middle managers--need to be held just as accountable as do the line workers and bus drivers. Actually, more accountable than their employees. But would you want a Metro middle-manager as your boss? Would you want him or her to have more power to fire you? No, of course not, and that is part of the problem right there. To re-emphasize, a "NO MONEY UNTIL PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED" approach will get us nowhere. I think it would be counter-productive. Can you imagine General Electric's CEO Jeffrey Immelt taking that approach with one of his divisions? I certainly can't. It reeks of that old Dilbert cartoon: "The beatings will continue until morale improves!"

So I guess I showed why I disagree with your approach, but I didn't really put forward a viable alternative. Sorry, this isn't the forum. Actually that's a cop-out: I just don't have a solution, only a few ideas. This is a tricky issue, one the education system struggles with every day.

@Steve O

Ignore sunk costs! We've spent that money on cars and cannot change it. Prospectively, what should we do? Most of the spending you mention is private spending, not funded by government. That means we're comparing apples and oranges: private spending on cars to government spending on transit.

A separate issue is government subsidization of parking, driving, etc. I think that should all stop at the margin, as should anti-free market density restrictions (Height Act). Perhaps if drivers paid the cost of their driving, we might see more willingness to undertake Metro expansion.

by WRD on Jan 25, 2011 10:40 pm • linkreport

@ Bossi - I have myself changed airports for connecting flights, but not in the US. Heathrow and Gatwick in London have a large bus system that carries travelers between airports for connecting flights. Unfortunately it isn't cheap and at times can result in really long delays. A metro-like connection would have been much better.

The US travel industry might not have the desire for a similar model here, but eliminating duplicative routes at DCA and IAD would allow for more direct destinations without increasing airport capacity. Mainly I just think this would be cool and doesn't compare to the other priorities in regional transit. Although I would personally be much more likely to use Metro when traveling out of IAD if there was an express train from either Roslyn or DCA.

by OddNumber on Jan 26, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

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