Planning

Some verypromising language here in Metro’s Meeting Market Demand Core Capacity Study:

Using the above strategies and constraint parameters, the following actions are necessary to maximize the capacity limits of the Metrorail system, and in turn will meet passenger demand to 2020 for the Orange Line and 2025 for all others:

1. Eight-car Train Operation: The operation of 8-car trains at 135-second intervals must begin [in five years at the latest] in order to meet market demand. While longer, more frequent trains, will entail more rail cars, additional rolling stock is not the complete answer to meeting projected demand. Investment in Metro’s physical plant (rail car storage and maintenance facilities) and supporting infrastructure (such as power and train control systems) must be made to support 8-car train operations.

[…]

3. Station Enhancements: Sixty percent of all Metrorail’s patrons use 34% of the system’s stations. Many of these stations will face overcrowded conditions as ridership grows over time. Improvements will be needed to move passengers from the platform to the mezzanine area and to the street level in order to ensure that platforms are clear before the next train arrives. Platform widening and additional fare collection equipment also will have to be accomplished at six of the 29 downtown core stations. Finally, major passenger flow conflicts exist between the Red and Yellow/Green Lines at Gallery Place-Chinatown station … Passenger walkway connections are proposed…to help with the flow of passengers through major transfer points.

Wow, sounds good, right? Like Metro is finally taking steps to solve some serious service issues?

Well, they were certainly thinking about it when they conducted and released this study… in 2001.

Here’s a beautiful vision of a past/present/future that will seemingly never be:

In order to achieve the passenger capacity demands of the system (i.e. match system capacity at the same time demand requires) the Core Capacity Study recommendations are grouped into four specific implementation steps that must be accomplished within defined timeframes. These steps meet combined market demand and capacity supply milestones through 2025 (except for the Orange Line, which is through 2020). The four steps are further grouped into two phases: Phase 1, which programs investments through 2010 and includes the steps required to achieve 50% 8-car train operations (Steps 1-3); and Phase 2 (Step 4, 2011-2025 investments), which programs the remaining investments required to achieve full operation of 8-car trains and accommodate market demands to 2020 on the Orange Line and 2025 on all others. The following summarizes each step:

  • Step 1: By 2003, implement 6-car, peak-period train operations on all lines with full deployment of the 192 new rail cars currently being delivered to the Authority and implementation of associated actions.
  • Step 2: By 2006, reconfigure Blue and Orange line service patterns to maximize utilization of Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza portals and accomplish 25% implementation of 8-car train operations and associated actions.
  • Step 3: By 2010, complete 50% implementation of 8-car train operations, operate all Red Line trains between Shady Grove and Glenmont and implement associated actions.
  • Step 4: By 2014, complete 100% implementation of 8-car train operations and associated actions. 

Just 13 years is all it would have taken. 13 years. If we start now…

It is projected that in 2020 ridership growth will have surpassed the point for any additional capability of the system to carry the peak passenger loads required to maintain market share on the Orange Line and soon after on the remaining lines. Once the system reaches the maximum carrying capacity, the only strategy available to expand capacity and continue keeping pace with demand is construction of additional Metrorail lines.

2020? That’s a whole eight years away! No rush or anything, you guys.

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