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Metro's goal is 20 trains per hour at Farragut North. Here's what it actually averaged in May, June, and July.

Last year, I found that Metro was running fewer Red Line trains per hour than it had planned during rush hour. I'm counting again this year, and so far the numbers are a mixed bag.

Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

I counted Red Line trains running through Farragut North last year, so I went with the same location this year. I did switch to only doing in-person observations rather than relying on WMATA's next train arrival data, and to recording from 4:30-5:30 pm (last year, I recorded times in the morning).

The Red line clearly struggled in late May, with an average throughput of 14.6 trains/hour from May 23-27. This is nearly 30% below Metro's own service guideline of 20 trains/hour. On four of five days, train malfunctions and other problems affected service, though May 25th was quite bad even without any reported delays.

But since that time, service has rebounded and averaged around 17.25 trains/hour over the past two weeks. This is roughly in line with the number from last year's observation. There weren't any reported problems during this time, which surely has something to do with trains staying closer to their schedules.

A week's worth of Red Line throughput data from this month. Click to download a complete version of the data the author collected.

Do schedules need adjusting?

Despite the improvement, Metro only hit its service goal of 20 trains/hour on July 12th, with the trains headed toward Shady Grove. Headways varied significantly, with gaps ranging from two minutes to 10 minutes or more.

Train sequencing showed similar variation. While Metro's Trip Planner shows that train destinations should alternate (i.e. Glenmont, then Silver Spring, then Glenmont, etc.), it was not uncommon to see trains to the same destination arrive one after the other.

I asked Richard Jordan a WMATA spokesman, how often Metro re-evaluates schedules and whether the Trip Planner is updated to reflect these new times. His response was that "our current service pattern allows for 20 trains per hour on the Red Line. We monitor rail service daily and make adjustments as needed. The online Trip Planner is based on the current schedule."

Unfortunately, actual service doesn't match the Trip Planner. While trains should be arriving every three minutes at Farragut North during rush hour, that clearly hasn't been the case. And trains rarely arrive in the sequence listed online. Certainly neither of these issues is a critical problem, but they are worth addressing.

Why this matters

Metro's new general manager, Paul Wiedefeld, has said the agency needs to confront "hard truths" and be more transparent with the public. This honesty should extend to Metro's online schedules and service advisories. Obviously unexpected problems happen that cause delays, but Metro should strive to make sure service matches the online schedule, or vice versa.

Second, SafeTrack makes staying on schedule even more important. Service across all rail lines will be significantly cut at various times over the next 8 months, sometimes as much as 50% or more.

With trains set to only arrive every 10-18 minutes for multiple weeks, it's critical that they adhere to their modified schedules. Otherwise already lengthy delays around work zones could become unbearable and cause dangerous conditions on platforms and in railcars.

The good news: there are more 8-car trains

On a positive note, while I observed almost no 8-car trains last year (due to problems with the 4000 series), they are much more plentiful this year. And after a brief restriction, multiple new trains are once again traveling the Red line.


Traffic jams are up during SafeTrack

Getting from Point A to Point B by car has taken longer than usual during SafeTrack, and while people changed when they commute during some of the work surges, few changed their actual routes. Those are two of the key takeaways from an analysis of rush hour congestion during SafeTrack that came out on Monday.

Increases in travel times along roads in the Washington area during the morning and afternoon commutes during each of the four SafeTrack surges so far. All images from the TPB.

The report comes from the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, whose analysts looked at hour-by-hour data on traffic conditions both this year and last.

Now a month and a half into its 10-month plan to to perform major maintenance across the system, Metro's work has focused on four areas: there was single tracking between Ballston and East Falls Church in early June, a total shutdown between Eastern Market and both Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road later in the month and into July, and after that two shutdowns from National Airport, first to Braddock Road and then to Pentagon City.

You might not be surprised to see that freeway congestion, which the TPB measured by the percent increase in travel time, went up significantly during each surge. However, congestion increased much less outside on non-freeway arterials, which suggests that not very many people changed their routes to avoid the increased freeway traffic.

In addition, all four surges led to significant increases in travel times within downtown DC. These increases, even when Metro service in DC was not cut too significantly, are probably because more people drove to downtown offices.

While all four surges resulted in increased congestion, the increase was significantly larger for Surge 1 (single-tracking between Balston and East Falls Church) than for the other surges.

Change in freeway congestion for each surge, compared to the same dates in 2015.

The smaller increase in congestion from the later surges may have been due to the fact that the number of commuters generally goes down during the summer, as well as the fact that commuters were more aware of the later surges. However, it will be interesting to see how Surge 5, starting this week, affects congestion, since it will be a repeat of Surge 1.

A comparison of freeway congestion during Surge 1 to congestion during the same dates in 2015.

It's worth noting the difference between changes in the intensity of the peak period congestion—which simply represents more cars on the road—and changes in the time distribution of congestion, which suggests that a significant number of drivers adjusted their trips to take into account the real or perceived effect of the Metro shutdowns and single-tracking.

Surges 1 and 4 mostly resulted in increased intensity of peak period congestion, while surges 2 and 3 seem to have resulted in more changes to commuters' schedules.

What else do you notice in the image and graphs?


SafeTrack returns to Ballston this week, and some work from last time still isn't finished

Between July 20th and 31st, Orange and Silver Line trains will share a single track between Ballston and East Falls Church and run less frequently. SafeTrack's first work surge was in the same place, and there are still a few loose ends to tie up.

The percent change in how many trains will run on the Silver and Orange lines during SafeTrack Surge 5. Image from WMATA.

Surge 1 work focused on the track typically used for inbound traffic (otherwise known as track "K1"). During Surge 2, Metro workers will hop over to track 2 (K2) and will do a lot of the same work. That likely means replacing rail ties, fasteners, insulators, grout pad, and power cables. In addition to this, workers will also need to finish up some deferred power maintenance that they didn't get done during Surge 1.

For all riders to the west of Ballston, this means that trains will come only every 18 minutes, 1/3 the number that typically come during a normal rush hour. They'll run more frequently east of Ballston, both because some Orange Line trains coming from New Carrollton will stop and turn around there and because the Blue Line will keep running its normal schedule from Rosslyn.

How to get around during the Surge

As with Surge 1, some westbound Orange line trains will stop at Ballston, and others will continue to Vienna. The ones that stop at Ballston will probably let people off on the regular outbound platform, turn around, reload passengers, and continue back to New Carrollton. Trains continuing to Vienna and Wiehle will enter Ballston on the "wrong" track, let people on/off there, and continue to their destination.

In other words, the shuffling that caused confused riders at Ballston's platforms will probably be back. It'll be possible for trains both heading into and away from DC to pick up and drop off passengers on either platform. So hopefully Metro again has employees in the station helping you out telling you where to pick up the train.

Metro has lots of alternative transportation info listed, including the bus shuttles around West Falls, East Falls, and Ballston, Metrobus routes with additional service, and info on traveling by bike rather than train. If you anticipate being affected by the work, check to see if there's a bus line, carpooling options, or other transport that might be a feasible alternative during the 12 days of single-tracking.

The FTA already found defects in the Surge 1 and 2 areas

The Federal Transit Administration recently released inspection data on the first two surges, showing that as of July 14th, inspectors found 109 "defects" in 27 inspections. The Surge 1 area from East Falls Church to Ballston had eight items that needed to be corrected, and there were 26 for the second SafeTrack area, near Stadium-Armory.

The term "defects" is vague, however: a defect could be anything from a burnt out lightbulb in a tunnel, to missing fasteners that could cause a derailment. The FTA defines a defect as "a documented non-conformance or deviation of WMATA's safety standards, [or] rules or procedure." So some of the issues the FTA found may be relatively small, but any noted deficiencies shows Metro still needs to work towards minding both the big and little rules when it comes to passenger and worker/employee safety.

Metro's Deputy General Manager of Operations, Andy Off, commented on the quality of the work done so far during SafeTrack, acknowledging that the agency needs to tighten up on some of the quality control being done. A new feature of SafeTrack is having quality control/assurance employees walking the tracks while work is being done, not just afterwards.

If this procedure change is more tightly integrated with the track work being done and Metro's new Chief Safety Officer continues to work on the agency's safety culture, then we should hopefully see these defect numbers diminish over the life of SafeTrack, and further on down the road.


If Metrobus asked me to redesign its info brochures, I'd make them look like this

I've lived in DC and used Metrobus here for 14 years. I'm also a designer, and I have a few ideas about how to make the bus timetable brochures clearer for people using them to understand the system.

Metrobus brochures could included a map like this to give riders a sense of where they are even if they've never heard of the specific places.

Some of the brochures' most important information, like where bus lines run and which bus stops have Metrorail stations nearby, isn't shown at all. And if you aren't familiar with the bus line numbers or street names, you won't have the context you need.

Mockup from the author based on the original Metrobus brochure.

While many people have smartphones to get their information in other ways or know what apps to download, visitors to the city often don't. And many low income travelers either don't have a smart phone nor money for data plans.

Here's my new design:

I designed a new brochure that I think would help readers know where they are even if they don't understand the geography of the District.

Redesigned Metrobus brochure by the author.

In short, I think Metrobus brochures should give users a visual understanding of where they are rather than assume riders know street or neighborhood names and that they should provide further information on how they can connect with Metrorail.

Do you see any other ways to make my new brochure better? If you have ideas, post them in the comments!


Metro has too many employees and not enough riders, say its consultants

Metro has a budget deficit that's widening, and while the agency is employing more and more people, ridership is down. The consultants who started reviewing WMATA earlier this year recently presented their findings to Metro's finance committee, and suggested a couple of possible ways to start closing the gaps.

WMATA's operating deficit has grown, with costs outpacing revenue. Image from McKinsey/WMATA.

Metro's General Manager Paul Wiedefeld brought on McKinsey & Co early on in his tenure to review the agency's operations, and to suggest ways it could work better and save money. Thursday's presentation was a follow-up to an earlier McKinsey report, and allowed Metro's board of directors to discuss the company's findings and start mulling over what to do next.

In short, McKinsey restated that Metrorail security is ok relative to other US agencies but Metrobus security lags behind, that the agency spends more than most on rail car maintenance yet still has issues getting cars into service, and the agency is doing less with more employees.

The combination of all of these issues means ridership has gone down and is no higher now than it was in 2005, but costs have continued to increase. Given the hand it's been dealt, WMATA still has some time left to take the steps necessary to turn things around, but the window of opportunity won't be open forever.

Metro's financial problems aren't new by any stretch of the imagination. Metro's CFO presented a similar warning last year that expenses were continuing to increase while revenue stagnates. Also, federal funding for WMATA has been restricted since 2014, when the FTA performed a financial audit and found gaps in the agency's monetary controls.

The federal funding restrictions have meant it takes longer for Metro to receive funding even if it expects to ultimately get it, and that the agency has had to crack down in its finance office to make sure money is being used properly.

The FTA's report and late financial audits have made it harder for Metro to justify that it needs continuing and increased funding.

Employee headcount and expenses. Image from McKinsey/WMATA.

Two main factors were seen as contributing to the agency's financial woes: a rising number of full-time employees and decreasing ridership. The agency's full-time employee headcount has increased from 8,596 in fiscal year 2011 to 10,269 in FY 2015, which ended June 30th of 2015.

The report notes that 73% of these employees are in two main groups within WMATA: Metrobus, and Transit Infrastructure and Engineering Services (TIES), which is in charge of most if not all Metrorail maintenance, construction, and upkeep.

TIES and Rail Transportation (RTRA) have been growing at a rate of 7% since 2011, according to the report. Some of the increase is due to almost 500 positions filled for the opening of Phase I of the Silver Line, however that still means around 800 other employees were added as well. Wiedefeld has un-done some of this growth by recently announcing that he'll eliminate 500 positions, but some of those are vacant anyway.

Normalized for population, Metrorail carried 86% the number of riders in 2015 as it did in 2015. Image from McKinsey/WMATA.

Ridership is down

Yearly employment growth might be healthy if ridership on the system was keeping up, but that is not the case here. McKinsey's report notes that adjusted for population growth in the region, the system in 2015 carried only 86% than what it carried in 2005.

While all other systems that McKinsey looked at showed ridership growth between 2005 and 2015, Metro's growth increased up to around the financial crisis in 2008-2009 and has been decreasing ever since. Off-peak rides account for 48% of the ridership decline since 2011, continues the report.

While there may be no one thing that caused people to stop riding, there are certainly several circumstances that greatly contributed to it, including: drops in reliability; seemingly-constant weekend, weeknight, and mid-day trackwork reducing train frequency and increasing waits; fare increases; and high-profile safety/security events relating to the system.

McKinsey recommended a number of ideas for cutting costs, including moving the Metro headquarters, and selling off or contracting out the agency's parking garages.

Those ideas are great, but the real keys are increasing system reliability, decreasing rail car breakdowns and delays, and spurring growth around Metro stations to encourage continuing ridership. Paul Wiedefeld seems to understand what needs to be done to turn the tide, and has implemented the SafeTrack program and now also has a focus on fixing railcar maintenance.

Improvement won't be instant—few positive changes are—but hopefully it will show its head in the weeks, months, and years to come.


Metro ran 2 red lights in 8 days. How much danger were passengers in?

Eight trains so far in 2016 have run past red signals on the Metrorail system. On July 5th, two trains ended up facing each other (though still a fair distance apart) on the same tracks, and on July 13th a train at National Airport stopped past the end of the center platform at the station. Nobody was injured in either incident, but the trend is troubling.

Red stop signal at the Silver Spring pocket track. Image from Wikipedia.

Near-collision near Glenmont

Around 7:15 pm on the 5th, a Red Line train leaving Glenmont and traveling towards Wheaton ran a red signal, went the wrong way over a switch, and ended up facing south on the same track that a train headed north toward Glenmont was on. The incident showed how the Automatic Train Control system can help prevent crashes, but also showed how human factors can still trump technology.

The incident train, train 121, was at Glenmont facing south toward downtown, and was waiting at a red signal to go the "wrong" direction on the outbound track to cross over and continue back to Wheaton. Train 125, which had departed Wheaton towards Glenmont, also on the outbound track, was set to approach the station and cross over from the outbound track to the inbound track, and berth on the inbound platform at Glenmont.

The operator of train 121 left Glenmont, bypassing a red signal, and without permission. Since the switches outside Glenmont were set for the incoming train 125 to cross over, the outgoing train (121) trailed one of the switches in the interlocking, meaning that the train went over the switch in the opposite direction that it was set. This can cause damage to the switch and sometimes requires repair, like what happened in February when an Orange line train ran a red signal and trailed a switch outside the Smithsonian station. I requested damage information from Metro regarding the Glenmont incident, but never received a reply.

When train 121 ran the red signal, it entered an Automatic Train Control (ATC) block which it didn't have permission to be in; this triggered an alarm at the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC), calling their attention to the train. The ATC system is designed to ensure that a safe distance is maintained between all trains at all times and because of this, it would have dropped speed commands (like a speed limit on the highway) to 00 (zero) for the block or blocks in front of train 121. Giving any train near train 121 zero speed commands would cause them to stop and help prevent, or at least minimize, chances of a collision.

So if the ATC system was giving trains in the area 00 speed commands—including train 121—why was it still able to move? The train was operating in manual mode (Mode 2), meaning that the train operator controlled the speed of the train with their hand on the Master Controller, sort of similar to a combined gas and brake pedal. The train was not in Automatic Train Operation (ATO) mode, in which the train would automatically speed up and slow down as necessary (in fact, no train currently is operating in ATO).

Since the train was in manual mode, it was allowed to travel at up to but not exceed 15 miles per hour, even after passing a red signal. When passing the signal the train's Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system would cause it to come to a complete stop, but the operator would be able to continue moving it at up to the 15 mph limit.

Being able to operate at up to 15 mph past a red signal isn't the typical operating procedure, but does happen from time to time on the rail system. This mode of operations, which essentially means that the ATC system is being ignored, is used when trains are given "absolute blocks." That's when the ROCC, like an old-school train dispatcher, manually gives trains permission to pass through a stretch of track at up to that 15 mph limit. This also means that only one train is allowed through that stretch at any given time, for safety.

Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld fired the operator of train 121 that ran the red due to the "blatant disregard for safety" and the risk they created for their coworkers.

Red signal violation at National Airport

The incident on July 13th occurred at the National Airport station, which is the north-most station of the "cut-off" portion of the Blue and Yellow lines during SafeTrack's Surge 4. All Blue and Yellow trains to and from Franconia and Huntington, respectively, berth at the station, unload and reload passengers, and leave on out. According to Metro, the Yellow Line train involved in the incident entered the center track of the station at a slow speed, and ended up about half a train car beyond the end of the platform, past a red signal.

The National Airport station includes one of the system's few "pocket tracks," a third track between the two main tracks in which a train can be re-routed or stored. On either end of the pocket track is a switch which can be aligned to send the train to either of the two main tracks. A train in the pocket track could turn out to either track leading to Huntington/Franconia on one end, or to either track leading to New Carrollton/Largo. The tracks give Metro a lot of flexibility, as they can be used during single-tracking to store trains or equipment, or to help turn trains around.

Since there are switches at either end of the pocket track leading to the two main tracks, there are also signals to tell train operators what they can do, which Matt' Johnson detailed after the Fort Totten crash. At a solid white lunar signal, the train operator can proceed straight through the switch down the track. At a flashing white lunar, the switch is set to cross the train over to another track. And at a red signal, the train operator cannot pass the signal (in this case, cannot pass through the switch) unless given permission by the ROCC.

A safety feature that Metro has installed at almost all pocket tracks is a derail, a device that can intentionally cause a train's wheels to come off of the track, in order to keep it from entering another track. In February 2010, one of these derails kept a Red Line train from exiting the pocket track near Farragut North when it had a red signal. At National Airport, the derail device sits at the north end of the pocket track on the right rail, just before the switch that the signal on the north end governs.

In this photo, the derail is shown in yellow on the left side of the right rail, near the rectangular box (a switch control box) on the right side of the rail:

When engaged, a train's wheel will roll up the derail, and off the side of the track, disabling the train. However at National Airport, since a red signal would have been displayed for all three tracks and no trains were being allowed north into the SafeTrack area, the derailer was not engaged. While this meant the train didn't need to be re-railed, it also means that if the train were to have continued onto one of the two mainline tracks and another train were to run a red signal on that main track (very remote odds that both of these happen at the same time, I know), a collision could have happened.

Just like a car shouldn't enter an intersection at a red signal and a plane shouldn't enter a runway without permission, a train shouldn't run a red signal without permission. There's been research into why operators continue to run the signals, and the Federal Transit Administration is collecting data from rail systems across the US to better understand how common the occurrence is, but the number of times it happens should never be higher than zero.


It's your last chance to submit ideas for MetroGreater!

The time to submit ideas to MetroGreater is almost up. If you have an idea for a small way to improve Metro (rail, bus, or paratransit), submit it by Friday night!

Image from Patrick R.'s submission.

We've gotten over 1,300 ideas (wow!) And while 1,200 of them are all suggesting putting "walk left, stand right" signs on the escalators (kidding—that was only submitted 33 times), we've got a great diversity of ideas, from involving street artists to beautify stations to wayfinding signs on the ground to announcements about moving to the back on buses. And that's just from the last few days.

After submission ends, Greater Greater Washington, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and WMATA will filter the ideas to identify those that meet the contest criteria, including:

  • doable in 6 months or less
  • cost less than $100,000
  • not cost much on an ongoing basis
  • not affect operations, safety, or violate any rules
A jury will then pick ten finalists, and you'll all be able to vote in August on the winner. If your idea is a winner, finalist, or honorable mention, you'll get bragging rights and cool prizes.

Besides submitting ideas, you can help us better evaluate them by adding comments on ideas you think are great, terrible, or anywhere in between.

For ideas that don't meet the criteria or don't get selected for some reason, we'll also try to do some posts here talking about why they couldn't make the cut. (Maybe they're great ideas that cost too much or take too long, and perhaps Metro will even try to do them one day!)

So get those ideas and then check back here on Greater Greater Washington (and/or follow @metrogreater on Twitter) for updates of the next phases of the contest. Thanks for all your great ideas so far!


Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 87

On Tuesday, we posted our eighty-seventh challenge to see how well you knew Metro. We featured photos of five Metro stations taken by Peter K. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

This week, we got 34 guesses. Sixteen got all five. Great work, Matt D, JamesDCane, RyanS, Justin..., Josh, Gregory Koch, dpod, Transport., DavidDuck, Alex C, Stephen C, J-Train-21, Solomon, Ampersand, Chris H, and We Will Crush Peter K!

Image 1: NoMa

The first image was fairly straight-forward, showing the perspective looking south in the mezzanine at NoMa station. The "M St" sign was a major clue, since only four stations are located on or near M Street. Mount Vernon Square has an entrance at 7th & M NW, Navy Yard has entrances at New Jersey & M SE and Half & M SE, and Waterfront has an entrance on 4th Street SW just north of M.

However, those stations don't fit the bill because they're all underground stations, and this picture shows a stop with the platform above (note the escalators on the left side going up). The styling is also indicative of the three 2004 stations. That makes this NoMa, which 32 of you figured out.

Image 2: West Hyattsville

The second image shows the Metro guideway just south of West Hyattsville, viewed from the Northwest Branch Trail, which crosses under the Green Line here. This trail hosts the East Coast Greenway, a trail running from Florida to Maine. The Greenway crosses under Metro just south of National Airport and at the Fourteenth Street Bridge (on the Mount Vernon Trail), at NoMa (along M Street), and at West Hyattsville. However, only the setting at West Hyattsville fits.

The wooden obelisk that the sign is mounted on is actually an Anacostia Tributary Trail System trail marker used by the Prince George's County Parks Department, which may have also helped you narrow this down. Additionally, we featured a very similar perspective in week 47.

27 got it right.

Image 3: Pentagon

The third image was taken at Pentagon, but shh! Don't tell anyone! This station was probably pretty easy to identify, since it's the only station in the system where photography is prohibited. Other clues include the next-gen faregate and the shape of the vault here, which is indicative of the taller trainroom needed for the dual train levels.

31 properly classified the answer.

Image 4: Morgan Boulevard

Morgan Boulevard may have taken some googling to get to the right conclusion. When the station was constructed in 2004, a childcare center was included on site to make it easier for parents to commute. This is one of two on-site daycare centers in the system, with the other being located at Shady Grove.

The center at Shady Grove is different because it was constructed after the station was built, whereas at Morgan Boulevard the daycare was built with the station. Signage and the setting at Shady Grove are different, and it appears that most of you figured it out despite the similarities.

25 got it correct.

Image 5: Franconia-Springfield

The final station is Franconia-Springfield. A quick search of the WMATA website turns up the four stations with multi-day parking. Three of the four stations have decks, so you can eliminate Greenbelt off the bat.

Of the remaining three, the website gives the definitive answer by indicating that at Franconia, the multi-day parking is in row J, which is labeled in the picture.

21 were able to figure this one out.

Great work, everyone. We'll be back in two weeks with another quiz!

Thanks again to Peter K for letting us use his pictures for whichWMATA.

Information about contest rules, submission guidelines, and a leaderboard is available at


Want your idea to be considered for the MetroGreater grand prize? Submit it by Friday night!

So far, people across the region have submitted almost 1,200 ideas to the MetroGreater contest. If you want the jury to consider making your idea one of the 10 finalists, enter it at this week. You can't win if you don't submit an idea!

Photo by Chris Wieland on Flickr.

Metropocalypse on MetroGreater

Greater Greater Washington is launching a crowd sourced idea contest for small, quick fixes to improve Metro for riding. Check out the latest episode of WAMU's podcast Metropocalypse to hear David Alpert and Martin DiCaro talk about the contest, why we're launching it, and how it fits into greater Metro efforts to make a safer, more reliable transit system.

What happens next?

This is the last week to submit your brilliant idea for making a quick, small improvement to Metrorail, Metrobus, or MetroAccess. Starting next week, Greater Greater Washington and Coalition for Smarter Growth will work with WMATA to vet the submitted ideas and eliminate those that would likely cost more than $100,000 or take more than six months to implement.

After that, a jury of transit leaders, experts, advocates, and representatives of WMATA will come together to review the eligible ideas and identify up to 10 finalists. We'll feature each of the finalist ideas on the blog and give you the opportunity to vote for your favorite. The idea with the most votes will be the winner and WMATA will make it happen it in the following next six months.

The winning ideas

Thanks to Metro and their business partners, owners of the winning idea and runners up will not only get bragging rights, but will walk (or ride!) away with a bounty of goodies made possible by WMATA and their business partners.

To commemorate the overlap with SafeTrack, the grand prize winner will receive a receive a paper weight made from a piece of historic Metro rail removed during SafeTrack. In addition, they will get a personalized $100 SmarTrip card, a pair of tickets to watch the Washington football team, and a Reston Package with tickets to a performance of your choice at CENTER STAGE and a Founding Farmers gift certificate.

Photo by m01229 on Flickr.

The finalists will receive a $25 SmarTrip card, food voucher for the Union Station food court, and one of the following:

  • Pair of Washington Wizards tickets
  • Family four-pack of tickets to the Spy Museum
  • National Building Museum exhibit tickets and merchandise for Icebergs
  • Union Station package including station history book, food court voucher, Big Bus tour tickets and a Swatch Watch
  • Pike + Rose package, including a $50 gift card to Summer House restaurant in North Bethesda
  • Crystal City package, including tickets to Sip and Salsa, Pups and Pilsners, the Synetic Theater, and a $50 gift card to Highline R&R
WMATA will also hold a few extra prizes in case the jury decides there are ideas that weren't selected as a finalist, but still deserve recognition.

What about the other ideas?

With almost 1,200 ideas and counting, there will be good ideas that don't make the finalist cut. Some of them will take too long or be too expensive. We hope to be able to highlight some examples of these on the blog and explain why a seemingly simple idea was too complex to implement.

That still leaves a lot of good ideas on the table.

What do you want WMATA to do with the other promising ideas?

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