Yesterday, DC Metro tried to placate Blue Line riders by stating that up to half of Blue Line trains during rush hour would be 8 cars. While this seems to indicate that Metro is starting to understand and respond to the drastic impact of their cuts on Blue Line riders, it will not be nearly enough to alleviate overcrowding. Importantly, even this response will not be enough to prevent the WMATA from violating their own operating standards related to overcrowding.
How many people does Metro say are acceptable to have on a rail car at a time? In their Metrorail Fleet Management Plan DC Metro says that for planning purposes expected peak loads are “Not to exceed 100 [Passengers Per Car] in the peak hour of service” (pg 5-4).
From the WMATA Vital Signs Reports, you can see that during the past 12 months the Blue Line has averaged a peak load of 89.8 passengers per car during the PM peak rush at Foggy Bottom (for comparison, the infamous “Orange Crush” of the Orange Line has averaged 86.6 passengers per car during the PM rush at the same station). The Blue Line currently has the most crowded PM average car load of any line in the system — but Metro wants to make it even more crowded by cutting service.
Right now DC Metro is running 7 six-car Blue trains per hour, so given current car loads there are 3,877 Blue Line passengers going through the station per hour during the PM rush. In order to get down to Metro’s stated standard of 100 people per car, they need at least 39 cars per hour. With the planned service cuts, the Blue line will have just 5 trains per hour, meaning that Metro needs to make at least 88% of Blue Line trains have 8 cars.
Under their current plan of having (up to) half of Blue trains having 8-cars, WMATA will only reduced the peak load to 111 passengers per car, meaning that unless there is a mass exodus of Blue Line riders they will be exceeding their stated operating standards.
Perhaps WMATA operating standards are flexible and they are adjusting them to meet current needs. But if long-standing plans are now flexible, maybe WMATA should also reconsider their plan to cut Blue Line service to just 5 trains per hour.
Take Action and tell WMATA not to cut Blue Line service again, and certainly not to do so without at least giving all Blue Line trains 8 cars.