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Old Posted Jun 12, 2009, 6:46 PM
blockski blockski is offline
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: DC
Posts: 269
Well, given the long lead time to plan for these things, I think the time to start the process is now.

Long term, for Metro, I don't want to see the system extend much farther than it already has. I could see extending the Yellow line down Route 1 to Ft. Belvoir, but the other proposed extensions could (and should) all be served by a vastly improved commuter rail system.

For Metro, I think the long term goal ought to be to eliminate the areas where multiple lines share the same track. The first priority would be the new Blue line - this would not only add new route miles through DC, but it would also vastly increase the maximum capacity of the Blue and Orange lines through VA and MD.

The next priority would be far more difficult - separating the Yellow and Green lines through DC. I think the idea would be to have a new line travel through DC going up North Capitol or 1st St NW to serve the Hospital Center and the MacMillan site, then somehow cris-crossing with the Green line to travel up under Georgia Ave to Silver Spring.

Finally, I'd like to see the Yellow and Blue lines separated through Arlington - I'd propose that be done by making the Franconia-Springfield a spur of the Yellow line and having the new Blue line run out under Columbia Pike to Bailey's Crossroads, maybe even Annandale.

Planning for this would be with the idea of being a 25-35 year plan. That way, you'd have all the lines on their own tracks, thus adding redundancy to the system, as well as increasing the capacity of the tail ends of each line.

For Commuter Rail, I'd start with service upgrades. More frequent headways, easier boarding, weekend and late night service. I'd also look to expand the system - both in length (hitting Richmond, Charlottesville, etc) but also in new routes.

I'd want to beef up service so it's more like an S-Bahn system. With that analogy in mind, it's also important to improve the brand - bring MARC and VRe together under one brand - offer through service so you don't have to transfer at Union Station, and try to make it so that people don't just want Metro because that's what they know is good.

For Light Rail, I think the current plans are a good start. Many would be duplicated by the Metro extensions I've discussed, so I'd focus on cross-town routes that won't be duplicated first.

I'd also be curious about using light rail as more of an inter-urban kind of service. Specifically, I'm thinking about how to link both Baltimore and DC to Annapolis. Baltimore's light rail uses an old rail ROW to get to the airport, and the ROW continues all the way to Annapolis. The DC-Annapolis connection needs a ROW, but I'm curious as to the feasibility of using LRT over longer distances. Cutting that ROW just for commuter rail seems like a waste, but running a more commuter-oriented LRT line from Annapolis to New Carrolton somewhere along the Route 50 ROW is an intriguing idea - long term, with the hope that FRA guidelines might change - perhaps those LRT trains could then just slide on to the NE corridor tracks and roll right into Union Station, too. But that's probably just a pipe dream.
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