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Transit


Do you know the station? It's whichWMATA week 18

This week, it's time for a little something different on whichWMATA: Your entries. We picked the best five images from reader submissions. Can you guess the five stations these images depict?


Image 1. Photo by DC Transit Nerd.


Image 2. Photo by Sand Box John.


Image 3. Photo by DC Transit Nerd.


Image 4. Photo by Ben Schumin.


Image 5. Photo by DC Transit Nerd.

In the future, we'll have more reader submissions, so while you're riding Metro keep your eyes (and cameraphones) peeled for unique stations and architectural features.

We'll hide the comments so that the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

The answers will appear on Wednesday. Good luck!

Transit


DDOT's 5-point plan to improve 16th Street buses

DDOT isn't yet willing to install a bus lane on 16th Street, but the agency is moving forward on a host of other improvements, and will study a bus lane next year.


Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr.

The 16th Street bus line is bursting at the seams. It carries more than half of rush hour trips on 16th Street. But the buses are slow, and they're so full that riders in the city's close-in neighborhoods often can't board.

Advocates have been pressuring for bus improvements on 16th Street since 2010. ANC Commissioner (and District Council candidate) Kishan Putta has championed the cause. Now, DDOT has adopted a 5-point plan to fix 16th Street.

Here are the 5 points:

Already complete: Signal optimization pilot program: In July 2014, DDOT retimed 44 of the traffic signals along 16th Street to improve their efficiency. After a few weeks of results, it appears to have sped up traffic (including buses). DDOT will continue to evaluate the results the rest of this summer.

August 2014: More articulated buses: Metro will reshuffle its bus fleet, to provide more long "accordion" buses on 16th Street. WMATA will move the articulated buses currently running on the Y series in Maryland to the 70 line in DC, then move the articulated buses currently on the 70 line to 16th Street. The Y series will have shorter buses, but they'll come more often.

Fall 2014: Longer rush hour operations: DDOT is considering extending the hours of rush hour parking restrictions on 16th Street, to keep more travel lanes open up to an hour longer in each direction. That will keep two lanes open to moving traffic, including buses.

Mid 2015: Transit signal priority & full optimization: By mid 2015, DDOT will expand its signal optimization pilot program to the entire corridor, and install new software that instructs traffic signals to hold a green light a few seconds longer if a bus is about to pass through an intersection. That will speed up buses along the route, so they're less likely to have to stop at red lights.

2015-2016: Bus lane study: Beginning in 2015, DDOT will begin a comprehensive study of transit improvements along 16th Street, including the potential for bus lanes and other long-term construction projects. The study will take about a year to complete, meaning 2016 is the earliest DDOT could install bus lanes.

None of these 5 points are new. DDOT has been working on them all for some time. But it's good to have them listed all in one place.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Transit


Metro locks out an entire College Park neighborhood

Metro's aggressive rebuilding program sometimes means riders must use bus shuttles to travel to and from closed stations. But when Metro closes Greenbelt station, the work blocks access to the shuttles from an entire neighborhood.


Left: Walking path from Hollywood to Greenbelt on normal days. Right: When the station is closed. Maps by the author.

Greenbelt Metro station sits on the boundary between the cities of Greenbelt and College Park. On the Greenbelt side there's a bus loop and a massive parking lot. But few people live within a reasonable walk. On the College Park side is Hollywood, a neighborhood of single-family homes straddling Rhode Island Avenue. A pedestrian tunnel beneath the tracks links the two.

Right now, Metro is building a test track for new railcars between College Park and Greenbelt. This means construction most weekends, and sometimes Metro closes Greenbelt station for the work. So far in 2014, Greenbelt has been closed on 3 weekends. It will likely close again before the year is out.

As usual when Metro closes stations for weekend work, they provide bus shuttles to the nearest Green Line station that's open.

But there's a problem: When Metro closes Greenbelt station due to work, they lock the station gates. The pedestrian tunnel linking Hollywood is behind these gates. So when the station is closed, the tunnel closes too.

This means people who live in Hollywood can't even walk through the station to get to the shuttle buses substituting for trains. They also can't access regular buses going to places like New Carrollton, the University of Maryland, or Wheaton.

When Greenbelt station is closed, what's usually an easy 4 minute walk through the station becomes a daunting and impractical 1 hour 9 minute walk of 3.5 miles.

College Park station is different

College Park station, the next one down the Green Line, has a similar design, except for one crucial difference: the pedestrian tunnel under the tracks at College Park emerges outside the station gates, and so then tunnel can remain open even when the station is closed.

Greenbelt's tunnel isn't so lucky.


Tunnel at College Park. Photo by the author.

Can Greenbelt change?

Is there any way for WMATA to make sure riders who live in Hollywood still have reasonable access to buses, even when the station is closed? Ideally the agency could leave the station gates open at Greenbelt, and just block off the faregates with a barricade.

That might mean Metro has to have one more staff person at the station on work days, but locking out most of the people who live within walking distance of the station isn't a good option.

Transit


Ask GGW: Why no Silver Line lights?

Reader (and contributor) Bradley Heard wants to know why Silver Line trains don't have silver lights in their destination signs like other lines do. Why is that?


Sign on a 6000 series car. Photo by Ben Schumin.

Brad asks:

I noticed the Silver Line Metro trains don't have the silver light preceding the text of the line. Any idea when/if those are coming?
The short answer is that they don't have silver lights because they're not capable of showing that color. When the current cars were manufactured or rehabilitated, there were only 5 colored lines, and those are the colors the signs can show.

Right now, trains say "silver" on the front, though without the colored stripes. On the sides, they say either "Wiehle Reston" or "Largo," again without the colored stripe.

However, the 7000 series cars are indeed capable of displaying a color for silver. Those cars have white LEDs that will be used to show the color silver.


Sign on a 7000 series car. Photo by Ben Schumin.

But the 7000s won't go into service until this fall (and it will be a slow trickle over the next several years). The older cars, however, will also operate on the Silver Line, and many of them will be around for a while.

WMATA staff is currently looking into the possibility of retrofitting the older cars' signs, but they haven't yet decided whether or not that's going to happen.

The 1000s and 4000s will be retired in the next few years, so they probably won't have retrofitted or new signs. But the 2000s, 3000s, 5000s, and 6000s will be carrying passengers for many years to come, and it might be helpful for those trains to be able to show the silver color on signs. Whenever WMATA decides, we'll be sure to let you know.

Transit


Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 17

On Monday, we posted our seventeenth photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took photos of five Metro stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 15 guesses on this post. 3 people got all 5 correct. Congrats to Peter K, Mr. Johnson, and Ken Conaway. Great job!


Image 1: West Falls Church.

The first image shows a train standing on the center track at West Falls Church. Only 2 stations have three tracks like this. The other one, National Airport, has a mezzanine below the tracks, so it's not possible to get an image from this vantage point. 13 of you knew this one.


Image 2: Gallery Place.

This image is a picture of the stacked escalators at Gallery Place. This station is unique in this regard because of the mezzanine right under the cross-vault. The escalators from the lower (Green/Yellow) level and the escalators from the Verizon Center mezzanine meet on the middle (Red) level. 14 of you knew this one.


Image 3: Rosslyn.

The third image shows the new elevator-only entrance to Rosslyn station. It's unique in the system. An additional clue is the building reflected in the glass. 11 got this one right.


Image 4: Grosvenor.

The fourth image was a little harder. It shows the canopy at Grosvenor station. This station is very similar to the peaked roof style of stations that is very common in above-ground stations built from the 1980s onward. But the canopy at Grosvenor has a much larger "peak". So while it's similar to many other stations, it's also very distinctive. 5 guessed this one correctly.


Image 5: Friendship Heights.

The final image is a picture of the elevator at the northern entrance to Friendship Heights. The elevator is built into the facade of the Chevy Chase Pavillion on the east side of Wisconsin Avenue. The Metro "M" is set into an awning similar to all the other storefronts along the building face. 6 got this one.

Congratulations to the winners!

Next Monday, we'll have 5 more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!

Transit


If the new Metro map used thin lines and a more contemporary design, this is what it might look like

Designer Cameron Booth won our 2011 contest to redesign the Metro map. Now, he's revised that design to show the Silver Line opened and reflect station name changes since then.


Map reposted with permission from Cameron Booth.

Metro didn't adopt Booth's design, but jury members (which included WMATA's Barbara Richardson as well as people from outside the agency) did like the way he replaced the old "boxy Volvo" parking symbols with a P (though Metro's new map uses a different P icon). And Booth put 90-degree turns on the southern Green Line, which the real map now sports as well.

You can view a large version on Flickr here.

Transit


Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 17

It's time for the seventeenth installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of 5 stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?


Image 1


Image 2


Image 3


Image 4


Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

The answers will appear on Wednesday. Good luck!

Public Spaces


Map: A half-mile walk to Metro

PlanItMetro made this cool map showing what's within a 1/2-mile walk from each Metro station. It's easy to see how the street network affects where you can walk.


Map by PlanItMetro.

As contributor Dan Reed points out, the walkshed is bigger in areas with a street grid and short blocks. On the other hand, barriers like highways, rail lines, and superblocks reduce the area you can walk to.

What patterns do you see?

Be sure to check out the full region map for stations outside the core.

Transit


A silver lining in the whichWMATA answers

On Monday, we posted our sixteenth photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took photos of the five new Silver Line stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 46 guesses on this post, and a whopping 43 of you got all five correct. Great work, everyone!


Image 1: Wiehle-Reston East.

The first image is, of course, a view of the Wiehle station from the mezzanine above the tracks. While it has the same superstructure as Tysons Corner and Greensboro stations, this one is unique for being located in the median of the Dulles Toll Road.


Image 2: Tysons Corner.

The second image shows Tysons Corner station. While it has the same roof design as Greensboro and Wiehle, Tysons is distinctive because it's the only one of those stations that has anything below the platform.


Image 3: Spring Hill.

From this view, the station itself could be either McLean or Spring Hill, since those stations are nearly identical. But the context, including the new residential tower to the left, narrows it down to Spring Hill station.


Image 4: Greensboro.

Image 4 is a picture from the platform at Greensboro. There's not much context in this photo. But since the 3 other Tysons stations are high above the streets, and Wiehle Avenue is in the middle of a freeway, this can only be Greensboro. The entrance structure and the pattern on the wall make it clear that it is one of the Silver Line stations.


Image 5: McLean.

The final image was intended to be a little trickier, but it didn't fool you. There's also not much context in this photo, but the windscreen around the exitfare machine makes it clear this is a Silver Line station. And there's a reflection in the screen of a baseball field, which neighbors McLean station.

Congratulations to the winners!

Next Monday, we'll have five more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!

Transit


Ask GGW: Why is there a Metro tunnel in Tysons?

Several years ago, as the Silver line was being planned, there was a debate about whether to build the line underground through Tysons Corner. Eventually, the elevated option was selected, but there's still a tunnel. Reader Dennis McGarry wants to know why.


The tunnel portal. Photo by Dan Malouff.
Why is there a short tunnel on the Silver Line with no underground stops? Why not just build the entire track above ground? It seems like such a huge undertaking with little payback.
There are two short tunnels in Tysons (one for each track). They run about 1700 feet between Tysons Corner station and Greensboro station. The reason they exist is to cut through the highest point in Fairfax County, at 520 feet above sea level.

The tracks through Tysons are already high above the streets, and the climb between McLean and Tysons Corner is noticeable, especially from the front of a westbound train. Because trains are limited in the grade they can ascend, crossing this hill with an elevated viaduct would make the stations at Tysons Corner and McLean obscenely high.

In addition to the engineering and aesthetic challenges that a super-high viaduct would have caused, trying to keep the line elevated would have probably been much more expensive. So it was probably cheaper for the contractor to build these short tunnels than it would have been to keep the line elevated over the hill.

As a result, riders at McLean get a soaring view of the Tysons skyline (and in fact, you can see Bethesda, too), but a few minutes later, they find themselves riding underground, ever so briefly.

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