Blue Line Changes Get Metro Committee Approval

photoA Metro committee has approved major Blue and Yellow Line service changes to make room for increased Orange Line service and to prepare for eventual Silver Line service to Tysons Corner, Reston and Dulles Airport.

The Metro Board of Directors’ Customer Service and Operations Committee today gave its approval to the plan, which would realign Blue Line service in mid-2012.  It’s intended to improve service for more than 108,000 customers on the Green, Yellow, Blue and Orange lines. The realignment will provide additional capacity where it is needed most, provide more transfer-free rides and make room for trains that will operate on the new Silver Line.

During peak periods, more than 46,000 Orange Line customers will benefit from six additional trains per hour —  three in each direction – resulting in 18 percent more capacity on the line, or approximately 2,600 seats per hour. The new trains will operate between West Falls Church and Largo Town Center.

The Orange Line is Metro’s second busiest, carrying approximately 180,000 passenger trips on a typical weekday. In a phenomenon known as Orange Crush, peak trains on the Orange Line between Courthouse and Rosslyn carry more passengers per car than anywhere else on the system.

During peak periods, the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom is at capacity, with 26 trains per hour in each direction. The additional “slots” in the schedule will be made possible by routing three Blue Line trains in each direction over the Yellow Line bridge each peak hour. Trains following this service pattern will travel between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt and will be considered Yellow Line trains.

For 33,500 Blue and Yellow Line customers in Virginia, the realignment will mean more trains providing faster access to downtown via the Yellow Line bridge. A smaller number (about 16,000) weekday peak-period customers who travel on Blue Line trains via Arlington Cemetery will experience a maximum of six-minutes additional waiting time for a train.

In addition, stations on the northern segments of the Green/Yellow lines will see additional trains during weekday peak periods. Stations from Shaw-Howard to Greenbelt will benefit from six additional Yellow Line trains each peak hour  three in each direction  between Greenbelt and Franconia-Springfield. For the first time, a customer can travel from Greenbelt to Franconia-Springfield without transferring. More than 28,000 customers will benefit from the change.

During each peak hour under the new service alignment:

  • Six additional Orange Line trains  three in each direction  will operate between West Falls Church and Largo Town Center.
  • Six former Blue Line trains  three in each direction  will operate between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt via the Yellow Line bridge. These trains will be identified as Yellow Line trains.

Benefits of the new service alignment during peak periods:

  • Orange Line customers will have more frequent service in both directions, with about 2,600 additional seats per hour during peak periods. Customers traveling to/from Blue Line stations east of Stadium-Armory will have new transfer-free trip opportunities to/from Orange Line stations in Virginia.
  • Blue Line customers in Virginia will have faster, more direct service via the Yellow Line bridge to the downtown core (e.g. Gallery Place) and new transfer-free trip opportunities to stations along the Green Line north of Mt. Vernon Square.
  • Nine stations will be served by six more trains per hour  three in each direction. The stations are: Shaw-Howard, U Street, Columbia Heights, Georgia Avenue, Fort Totten, West Hyattsville, Prince George’s Plaza, College Park and Greenbelt.
  • Green Line customers boarding north of Mt. Vernon Square will have a transfer free trip to Blue Line stations in Virginia from Pentagon to Franconia-Springfield.

Off-peak service will not change.

New Metrorail Map Unveiled

Metro Board members today were presented with a new transitional Metrorail map that will be used to show the new service patterns during peak periods. The map was designed by Lance Wyman, one of the original designers of the Metrorail map, with several rounds of customer input through focus groups and online surveys.

The new service pattern between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt is depicted by extending the Yellow Linewith dashed lines to indicate “rush-hour only”to both new endpoints. Regular Yellow Line service between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Sq/Fort Totten is reflected with a solid Yellow Line.

Similarly, a dashed extension Orange Line has been added to the map between Stadium-Armory and Largo Town Center to reflect the six trains per peak hour (three in each direction) that will operate between West Falls Church and Largo Town Center.

Responding to customer feedback, the future Dulles extension will be known as the Silver Line. During construction, the extension will be depicted on the map as a spur. Upon completion, the Silver Line will be shown on the map between Wiehle Avenue and Stadium-Armory.

More than 23,000 customers were surveyed or provided feedback as part of the research process.

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About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.