Changes could be in store for the three Metrorail lines that run through Virginia, the District, and Maryland. Metro says it plans to analyze “key issues and trends” along the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines in order to come up with service and infrastructure alternatives by fall 2020.
Why? Because “today, the Blue, Orange and Silver (BOS) lines all share a single set of tracks between the Rosslyn tunnel and the Anacostia River, creating a bottleneck that limits the number of trains that can cross between Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia,” Metro explained in a release Monday. “The limited capacity means that Metro cannot easily add more trains and has limited ability to work around service disruptions. With the current configuration, a disruption on one line can have a ripple effect on all three lines.” The study is expected to be followed by federal environmental review and design phases, Metro noted.
The goal is to improve reliability and meet anticipated ridership demand. Metro says it will conduct community outreach over the next two years and collect feedback for its ultimate recommendations. Headways, or wait-times between trains, can often be long on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines because of the bottleneck challenge. This in turn causes crowding.
Another reason Blue, Orange, and Silver line trains can be crowded: scheduled repair work. Four Blue Line stations in Virginia are currently shuttered for repairs through September 8. A 2018 report by the D.C. Policy Center, meanwhile, found significant decreases in Orange Line ridership between 2007 and 2017 largely due to station closures and unreliable service.