Update to the Paul J. Meissner produced integrated high capacity transit map for the Washington metropolitan area
Earlier this year, Paul Meissner, a transit and urbanism advocate, and more recently a member of the WMATA Rider's Advisory Council, worked with me to create two different transit maps. The point was to use them to discuss various transit issues, although I haven't written all the various intended posts at this point.
Washington area integrated rail transit map
The WMATA Metrorail map is probably the metropolitan area's most commonly understood graphic design product, but the problem is that it only shows the subway lines. This map would be more useful if it also included the regional railroad commuting services.
It is common in other cities with more frequent passenger rail service to have integrated map products showing railroad, subway, and light rail/tram services in one map or a set of companion maps. That it doesn't do so is in large part the result of the fact that the DC area's transit services are balkanized in terms of operation and planning.
In the DC area, Metrorail, MARC, and VRE each publish their own maps with limited depiction of the other services, although Maryland Transit Administration produces an integrated map for the Baltimore area.
So Paul produced an integrated rail transit map for the Washington metropolitan area, showing not just the Metrorail heavy rail system and its six lines, but also other railroad services--primary the MARC (Maryland and West Virginia) and VRE (Northern Virginia) systems, but also streetcar.
I used the map to illustrate these entries:
-- "The real question to ask isn't "What to do about WMATA?": The maps"
-- "The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authority association"
-- "Don't over focus on "fixing" the WMATA Compact. Instead create a new Regional Transit Compact, of which WMATA is one component"
That map didn't show the Purple Line light rail program for Montgomery and Prince George's Counties Maryland, which because of various controversies and legal actions, there was some doubt that the project would proceed.
Since the Courts recently gave the Federal Transit Administration the go ahead to proceed after having delayed the project in the face of a case filed against the project, and how subsequently Maryland and the US Department of Transportation signed a funding agreement, the Purple Line is moving forward and therefore should be included on the "current and under construction transit services" map.
As shown below, Paul has redone the map to include the Purple Line. The sections of lines that are under construction are shown in as hatch marked. Solid (black) blocks denote stations operating currently while white (empty) blocks show future stations.
Integrated rail transit map for the Washington DC Metropolitan area, including the Purple Line light rail routing, produced by Paul J. Meissner.
Washington/National Capital Region Map of Future (Potential) Rapid Transit Services
The second map Paul produced is a "fantasy" map, with other ideas for expanding the rail-based transit system in the region.
The basic idea was to shape the map with some general but also somewhat objective organizing principles. It wasn't just about drawing lines on a map, but aiming to serve high use destinations, which is necessary to justify the heavy public investment in this type of transportation infrastructure.
Second, the more recent proposal of the Metro Forward transit expansion program doesn't do all that much for DC, so we need a better plan for transit expansion that serves city interests. Arguably, that program's recommendations were "satisficed" to focus on those expansions that could win unanimous support.
Third, it was about trying to separate the blue and silver lines, and to some extent the yellow and green lines, to reduce "interlining" which ends up reducing capacity and decreasing reliability (see the discussion of this point here, "More on Redundancy, engineered resilience, and subway systems: Metrorail failures will increase without adding capacity in the core").
Fourth, at the same time using the separation of the lines to add capacity and service and intensification of land use by using the changes to bring about more high capacity service to more areas. And to intensify service by providing infill lines and stations. Some of this is by extending some of the lines outward, and some is by adding lines within the current system footprint.
In the original map, it would add 22 Metrorail stations to Northern Virginia, 27 stations in DC, and 21 new Metrorail stations in Maryland.
We must acknowledge that this map was mostly focused on heavy rail service extension and intensification. We didn't try to go at passenger rail service extension and expansion at the same level of detail, although it does add some train stations, and proposes a first step at merging MARC and VRE by starting with the MARC Penn Line and the VRE Fredericksburg Line ("A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines").
Ideas for expanding the railroad system start with a map that Dan Malouff of BeyondDC produced many years ago.
This is Dan's map.
But I'd more to this map now, such as a line from DC to Southern Maryland, especially Charles County, and a line between Baltimore and Frederick.
And concurrently with Paul's mapmaking, Maryland announced plans to work with Delaware to provide "commuter rail" service connections between the end of the MARC line in Perryville, Maryland to either Newark or Wilmington, Delaware, where it would connect with SEPTA-provided commuter rail service.
And at the April Virginia Association of Rail Patrons meeting, VARP board member Rafi Guroian presented interesting ideas about expanding and intensifying the intra-Virginia railroad passenger service program that ought to be incorporated as well.
For Paul it was about using recommendations from adopted plans, as well as some key vision points, the likelihood of happening
It was something of a push-pull effort working out the "final map." Paul had his own ideas too, so the final product is kind of a negotiation. It didn't include some elements that I wanted, such as a Purple Line extension to the Tysons district of Fairfax County, hypothesized in the original map of the Purple Line, because light rail at such a distance is very slow. It would need to be given a separate right of way/tunnelized to be fast enough to motivate people to take it.
I have written about the fantasy map in three different pieces:
-- "Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success: Part 2 | proposed parallel improvements across the transit network," although I didn't use the map to illustrate this piece, the concept of a program of wide ranging and wide reaching transit improvements influenced the concepts outlined within
-- "A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines"
-- "Using the Silver Line as the priming event, what would a transit network improvement program look like for NoVA?"
But I still haven't written about it in terms of DC specifically, or Maryland, which I need to do.
Extension of the blue and/or yellow lines to Woodbridge
Something that came up in a conversation in the last week is something we hadn't discussed in the original mapmaking process, whether or not Metrorail service should be extended to Woodbridge in Prince William County.
It makes sense to consider because it is a major population center, and in the context of "corridor management" of transportation in the I-95 corridor.
It's also a good time to bring it up in the context of Virginia's current long range transportation planning process which has been holding meetings across the state and Virginia's ongoing Atlantic Gateway corridor management program for this corridor.
On the other hand, VRE service is a part of service in this corridor already, and it seemed "duplicative" to include both VRE and Metrorail service. That's why we didn't include it in the original mapmaking development process.
Metrorail, like BART in San Francisco, is a hybrid transit service, providing both long distance "commuter rail" like service but via "heavy rail" not railroad passenger service, and intra-metropolitan transit service over short and longer distances. In the core of the area, Metrorail functions as a subway, while on the outer reaches of the system it functions more like commuter rail.
Metrorail service would allow the development of a more intensified intra-area and bi-directional transit program, whereas the VRE railroad passenger service is one dimensional--to DC in the morning and back to Virginia from DC in the evening.
Thinking about transit service at different scales ("Metropolitan Mass Transit Planning: Towards a Hierarchical and Conceptual Framework") is why it may make sense to have both longer distance railroad services complemented by shorter distance heavy rail service, even though the ultimate destination of each service would be the same place.
The Fantasy map proposes an extension of the Yellow Line to Fort Belvoir, adding four stations in the US 1 corridor. The fantasy map extends the Yellow Line by about 11 miles. With a Yellow Line extension, it would be another 9 miles to Woodbridge. By contrast, to extend the Blue Line from Franconia-Springfield Metrorail Station would be just over 12 miles.