We all know that the wait times for DC blue line service is bad compared to the rest of the lines in DC and that it is getting worse. But how does it compare to that seen at other subway systems around the country?
I went through the posted schedules for 12 of the subway systems with the largest ridership in the country (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, Baltimore, San Juan, San Francisco, Atlanta, and LA, and of course Washington DC) and determined their average wait times during rush hour. For systems with staggered schedules, like the DC blue line before the additional service cuts, I counted the number of trains during rush hour to get an average across the staggering. Recognizing that some estimating was involved, results are averaged to the nearest half-minute.
The results are below and largely speak for themselves.
There are 72 rail lines across these 12 cities. After DC Metro’s planned service cuts, the blue line will come in tied for 67th. Contrast that with the other DC lines which all are near the top, including the red line which is the most frequent rush hour subway train in the country.
What about those 4 lines that are worse than or tied with the blue. The LA expo line which is tied with blue. That’s a new line that is easing-in to Rush Hour service. Assuming things go as planned and they have the expected demand, they may improve service to every 6 minutes, which would drop the blue line to 68th out of 72.
The only lines with worse wait times than the Blue Line are all San Francisco BART lines. Even they have an advantage over the Blue, however, since unlike on the DC Metro, BART offers their riders a fixed time schedule during rush hour. As a result, riders know when to show up at the platform so they can cut their commute times. Apparently these time-points are pretty accurate since BART was disappointed when the on-time performance fell to 93.7%. It would be great to show up at the Metro platform and know that almost 94% of the time the train will be arriving almost right when you get there.
Washington DC has one of the best metro systems in the country, so let’s not let the blue line be one of the worst.