How DC Metro can save riders thousands of hours per year

Previously, we’ve outlined how Metro cuts will cost the average Blue Line rider 15 hours per year waiting for trains. But what are the alternatives? Turns out it’s possible to:

  • Work within the limited capacity in the Rosslyn tunnel
  • Make room for the Silver Line
  • AND save Metro riders almost a hundred-thousand hours each year 

They key is more efficient allocation of trains through the tunnel.

PlanItMetro offered some ridership data last year, which we’ve incorporated with DC Metro’s projections for Silver Line ridership to see how slightly changing the tunnel space allocations can impact overall waits for metro riders.

The current WMATA plan calls for 26 trains during rush hour – 11 Orange, 10 Silver, and 5 Blue. With a relatively minor shift to train allocations through the Rosslyn Tunnel, WMATA could save DC and Northern Virginia commuters 89,000 hours per year waiting for trains.  

Here’s the details:

SPOILER ALERT: 10 Orange, 9 Silver, 7 Blue

If WMATA moved one morning train from Silver to Blue, it would add an average of 20 seconds to the morning commute for the 17,500 riders coming from/going to the new Silver stations and it would add an average of 4.3 seconds to the morning commute for the 18,000 riders to/from the Orange/Silver overlap stations between Court House and West Falls Church. However, the time savings for Blue Line riders would be much greater. The 10,000 morning commuters who take the Blue Line into DC and the 3,000 who take the Blue Line to an Orange Line station would save between 55 seconds and 1 minute per trip. Combining all of these effects, restoring just one Blue train per hour in the Morning rush hour (11 Orange, 9 Silver, 6 Blue) would result in a net savings of 23,800 hours for DC commuters on their morning commutes. If they preserved the 7th Blue Line train that currently operates (10 Orange, 9 Silver, 7 Blue), the net savings would grow to 39,300 hours.

The potential afternoon savings are similar, but slightly higher since Blue Line ridership is greater.  If they fully restore the current (but already reduced) Blue Line service by sacrificing one Silver Line Train and one Orange Line train it would shift the allocation to 10 Orange, 9 Silver, and 7 Blue. For the Evening rush hour, this would result in a net savings of 49,800 hours for DC commuters on their evening commutes.

Combining the 39,300 hours of savings from the morning commute and 49,800 hours from the afternoon commute, these changes to the train allocations through the Rosslyn Tunnel WMATA add up to just over 89,000 hours per year of extra time for Metro riders. The decrease in service to potential future Silver Line riders will only minimally impact them, but the overall benefits gained by riders in the system on the whole would be enormous. Metro should enact these changes now, before the Silver Line even launches.

Take action or sign the petition telling WMATA that you support the Blue Line and that they shouldn’t cut its service even more.

Posted in Data, Wait times
2 comments on “How DC Metro can save riders thousands of hours per year
  1. Jeremiah says:

    Why not to be fair to all metro riders instead of picking and choosing. Do 8 Orange Line trains, 8 Blue Line Trains, and 8 Silver Line Trains per hour. Also each train should have 8 cars instead of 6. In addition, put the seats against the walls of the train versus having aisles in order to increase capacity.

  2. Martin says:

    Agree with the above comment. Pretty terrible planning if you ask anyone. Guess none of the big boys n girls at metro or the Feds take the Blue Line. Has anyone seen the Blue Line now during rush hour say at Rossyln or in DC? Not fun. I’ll be pushing to work at home more. Thanks Metro

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