Essential Architecture- Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C., Metro


Harry Weese, FAIA


Washington, DC








mass transit system

  Largo Town Center station, which opened December 18, 2004.

Metrorail, or simply Metro, is the rapid transit system of Washington, D.C., and neighboring communities in Maryland and Virginia, both inside and outside the Capital Beltway. In Maryland, service is provided in Prince George's County and Montgomery County; in Virginia, service extends to Fairfax County, Arlington County, and the city of Alexandria.


A Red Line train services Metro Center, the hub of the system.

The Metrorail (subway) system and the Metrobus (bus) network are owned and operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) — a multijurisdictional, quasi-governmental agency. WMATA also operates a paratransit service for the disabled called MetroAccess. However, the expression "Metro" usually refers to Metrorail exclusively.

Unlike the subway systems in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, Metrorail fare is zoned. This means it is not fixed; it varies based on the distance traveled and the time of day. Riders enter and exit the system using a stored-value card in the form of a paper magnetic stripe farecard or a proximity card known as SmarTrip. Both methods track the balance paid to Metro, as well as the rider's entry and exit points.

Since opening in 1976, the subway network has grown to five lines, consisting of 86 stations and 106.3 miles (171 km) of track. The original plan of 83 stations on 103 miles (165.5 km) was completed on January 13, 2001. There were 207.9 million trips, or 702,121 trips per weekday, on Metrorail in fiscal year 2007. [1] In July 2007, Metrorail set a new monthly ridership record with 19,281,809 trips, or 772,826 per weekday.[2] The system is the second busiest in the United States behind the New York City Subway.

Washington's Metrorail is well-known for its design by Chicago architect Harry Weese. Weese's design is an exemplar of late-20th century modern architecture. With its heavy use of concrete, and the repetitive nature of its design motifs, it displays aspects of Brutalism, which, in Washington, is also illustrated by the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover Building. Simultaneously, with its coffered groin and barrel vaults, it evokes Neoclassicism, arguably the closest thing to an "official" architectural style in Washington. Historic examples of Neoclassicism in Washington consist of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, by Robert Mills and others; the former U.S. Patent Office building (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum), also by Robert Mills and others; the White House, by James Hoban; and the Beaux-Arts Lincoln Memorial, by Henry Bacon.

In underground stations, light is provided via banks of fluorescent lights next to the station walls. Additional light is provided in center platform stations by lights in the crowns of the platform pylons. In side-platform stations, additional light is provided by a bank of fluorescent light bulbs between the tracks.

Metrorail network
The network was designed with a spoke-hub distribution paradigm, which makes the subway ideal for getting from a suburb to any part of the city, or vice versa, but unattractive for suburb-to-suburb travel; groups have proposed a Purple Line to remedy this. The system is also noteworthy as a system with a limited number of lines that nevertheless makes extensive use of interlining (running more than one line on the same track).

There are currently stations in the District of Columbia, Prince George's County and Montgomery County in Maryland, and Fairfax County, Arlington County, and city of Alexandria in Virginia. The Silver Line would add stations in Loudoun County, Virginia, once completed.

Half of the system, including most of the stations in the District of Columbia, is underground, but most suburban stations are on elevated rails or at grade. In the case of the western Orange Line, the tracks run in the median of Interstate 66. The deepest stations in the system are at the northeastern end of the Red Line, with Wheaton having the longest escalator in the western hemisphere at 230 feet (70 m) long, and Forest Glen being even deeper than that.[3] It is so deep, the only way to the surface is by elevator.[4]

The system is not centered on any single station, but Metro Center is considered the hub, because it is the busiest station, located at the intersection of the three busiest lines, and the Metro Information Center and Gift Shop are located there. Other notable transfer stations include Gallery Place/Chinatown, which is located by the Verizon Center; Stadium-Armory, which is located by RFK Stadium where the Washington Nationals and DC United play; and L'Enfant Plaza, the only station in the system with four lines and which provides easy access between downtown Washington and Virginia.

WMATA has a stated goal of integration of its rail and bus networks. In 2004, SmarTrip readers were installed on all buses, enabling paperless transfers between lines and with the rail system.[6] Metro also offers numerous connections to other transit systems and modes of transportation in Washington, D.C..

Top 10 Stations by Ridership
According to May 3, 2006, average weekday boarding data.[7]

Yellow Line extension
Beginning December 31, 2006, Metro extended its Yellow Line service past Mt Vernon Sq/7th St-Convention Center to Fort Totten during off-peak hours as part of an 18-month pilot program. This adds five stations to the existing Yellow Line route and increases off-peak service (non-rush hour) from one train every 12 minutes, to one train every six minutes. Metro installed over 5,000 signs throughout the system to reflect the extension. The $5.75 million cost of the expansion will be covered by the District of Columbia.[8]


Interior of a rehabilitated Breda car.

During the 1960s, there were plans for a massive freeway system in Washington. However, opposition to this freeway system grew. Harland Bartholomew who chaired the National Capital Planning Commission thought that a rail transit system would never be self-sufficient because of low density land uses and general transit ridership decline.[9] Finally, a mixed concept of a Capital Beltway system along with rail line radials was agreed upon. The Beltway received full funding; monies for the ambitious Inner Loop Freeway system were partially reallocated toward construction of the Metro system.[10]

In 1960, the federal government created the National Capital Transportation Agency to develop a rapid rail system. Then in 1966, a bill creating WMATA was passed by the federal government, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland,[11] with planning power for the system being transferred to it from the NCTA.[12] WMATA approved plans for a 98-mile (158 km) regional system in 1968,[12] and construction on the metro began in 1969, with groundbreaking on December 9. The system opened March 27, 1976, with 4.6 miles (7.4 km) available on the Red Line with five stations from Rhode Island Avenue to Farragut North, all in the District of Columbia. Arlington, Virginia, was linked to the system on July 1, 1976; Montgomery County, Maryland, on February 6, 1978; Prince George's County, Maryland, on November 20, 1978; and Fairfax County, Virginia, and Alexandria, Virginia, on December 17, 1983.[11]

The final 103 mile (166 km), 83 station system was completed with the opening of the Green Line segment to Branch Avenue on January 13, 2001. This did not mean the end of the growth of the system, however: a 3.22 mile (5.18 km) extension of the Blue Line to Largo Town Center and Morgan Boulevard stations opened on December 18, 2004. The first in-fill station (New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U on the Red Line between Union Station and Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood) opened November 20, 2004, and planning is underway for an extension to Dulles Airport.[11]

The highest ridership for a single day was June 9, 2004, with 850,636 trips, as thousands of people went to Washington to view the funeral procession of Ronald Reagan, and to the U.S. Capitol to view his body as it lay in state.[11] The previous recordholding day was January 20, 1993, President Bill Clinton's first inauguration.[11] June and July 2007 have broken records in terms of ridership, with four of the ten highest ridership days occurring in these months.[13] July 2007 also holds the single-month ridership record with 19,281,809 total riders[2] while June 2007 holds the record for highest average weekday ridership with 772,826 weekday trips.[1] In February 2006, Metro officials chose Randi Miller, a car dealership employee from Woodbridge, Virginia, to record new announcements after winning an open contest to replace the "doors opening," "doors closing," and "please stand clear of the doors, thank you" messages recorded by Sandy Carroll in 1996.[14]

Rolling stock

A train of Rohr cars arrives at Cheverly station.

Metro's rail fleet consists of 952 75-foot (23 m) rail cars, delivered in five shipments. All rail cars in the Metrorail system operate in married pairs (consecutively numbered even-odd), with systems shared across the pair.

The original order of 300 rail cars was manufactured by Rohr Industries, with delivery in 1976. These cars are numbered 1000-1299 and were rehabilitated in the mid-1990s by Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie and Metro at the Brentwood Shop in Washington. The second order, of 76 cars, was through Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie (Breda), with delivery in 1982. These cars are numbered 2000-2075, and were rehabilitated in 2003 and 2004 by Alstom in Hornell, New York. The third order consisted of 290 cars, also from Breda, with delivery in 1987. These cars are numbered 3000-3289 as originally delivered, and are currently undergoing rehabilitation by Alstom in Hornell, New York. The fourth order consisted of 100 cars from Breda, numbered 4000-4099. These cars were delivered in 1991. The fifth order consisted of 192 rail cars from a joint venture of Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) of Spain and AAI Corporation of Hunt Valley, Maryland. These cars are numbered 5000-5191, with delivery from 2001 through 2004. Most recently, Metro has ordered 184 rail cars from Alstom. Delivery began in late 2005, with initial service starting in October 2006. The new cars have their body shells built in Barcelona, and assembly is completed in Hornell, New York.[15]

Metrorail signaling and operation
During normal operation on revenue tracks (used for passenger services), trains are controlled by an automatic train operation system (ATO) which accelerates and brakes the train automatically without operator intervention. However, all trains are manned with train operators who close the doors (they can optionally be set to open automatically), make station announcements, and supervise their trains. The operator can switch a train into manual mode and operate the train manually as needed.

Safety and security

Design considerations

"Max the Metro Dog" safety campaign advertisement.Metro planners designed the system with customer safety and order maintenance as primary considerations. The open vaulted ceiling design of Metro stations and the limited obstructions on platforms allow few opportunities to conceal criminal activity. Station platforms are also built away from station walls, to limit vandalism and provide for diffused lighting of the station from recessed lights. Metro's attempts to reduce crime, combined with how the station environments were designed with crime prevention in mind,[16] has contributed to the fact that Metrorail is among the safest and cleanest subway systems in the United States.[17]

Metro Transit Police
Metro is patrolled by its own police force, which is charged with ensuring the safety of Metro customers and employees. Transit Police officers patrol the Metrorail system and Metrobuses, and they have jurisdiction and arrest powers throughout the 1,500-square-mile (3,885 km²) Metro service area for crimes that occur on or against transit authority facilities, or within 150 feet (45 m) of a Metrobus stop.[18]The Metro Transit Police Department is the only American police agency that has local police authority in three different "state"-level jurisdictions (Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia).[19]

Zero-tolerance policy

Each city and county in the Metro service area has similar ordinances that regulate or prohibit vending on Metro-owned property, and which prohibit riders from eating, drinking, or smoking in Metro trains, buses, and stations, and the Transit Police have a reputation for enforcing these laws rigorously. One widely publicized incident occurred in 2000 when police arrested a 12-year-old girl for eating french fries in the Tenleytown-AU station. In a 2004 opinion by John Roberts – now the Chief Justice of the United States – the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the girl's arrest. By then, however, WMATA had answered negative publicity by adopting a policy of first issuing warnings to juveniles, and arresting them only after three violations within a year.[20]

Metro's zero-tolerance policy on food, trash and other sources of disorder embodies the "broken windows" philosophy of crime reduction. This philosophy also extends to the use of station restroom facilities. Under a longstanding policy, Metro allowed only employees to use its restrooms in order to curb unlawful and unwanted activity.[17] Station managers could make exceptions for customers with small children, the elderly, or the disabled.[21] Today, Metro allows the use of restrooms by customers who gain a station manager's permission, except during periods of heightened terror alerts.[22]

On January 13, 1982, a train backed up and derailed at a malfunctioning interlocking between the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian stations. In attempting to restore the train to the rails, the supervisors backed it up, but they did not notice that another car had also derailed. In attempting to reverse the train, the other rail car slid off the track and slammed into a tunnel support, killing three people and injuring many others, becoming the worst accident that has ever occurred on the Metrorail system in over 30 years of operation. Coincidentally, this accident occurred at the same time as Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge during a major snowstorm, producing probably the worst transit situation in Washington history. The train accident was compounded by lack of availability of ambulances, which at the time were all trying to reach the 14th Street Bridge disaster.[11]

Final train positions in the January 6, 1996 accident at Shady Grove station.

On January 6, 1996, during the Blizzard of 1996, a train operator was killed when a train overran the Shady Grove station and struck a parked train. It was later determined that because operators tended to overuse braking systems and wear them down, only computer-controlled braking was allowed to be used by operators. This operator had asked to be permitted manual control over braking and was refused permission only a few minutes before the computer-controlled braking system failed to stop his train in time. An NTSB investigation found the following factors that contributed to the accident:

At the time of the accident, there was a policy then in effect that prohibited supervisors from granting employees permission to operate trains manually, even in inclement weather.
The parked train was located on the same track that was being used by inbound trains, instead of in a safer location.[23]

The November 3, 2004 accident at Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan station.
On November 3, 2004, an out-of-service train lost its brakes, rolled backwards into the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Station, and hit a revenue train servicing the station.[24] No one was killed, but 20 people were injured.[11] The 2004 accident reinforced the finding from the 1996 accident of the tendency of Metro rail cars built or rehabilitated prior to 2001 to telescope when involved in a head-on collision.[23] A 14-month investigation on the accident concluded that the train operator was most likely not alert as the train rolled backwards into the station, on the grounds that the train had rolled backwards for over 78 seconds and that the train operator was at the end of an overtime shift that had been preceded by a night of interrupted sleep. Safety officials estimated that had the train been full, at least 79 would have died. Since the findings of the investigation, the train operator was dismissed from Metro, and Metro officials plan to add rollback protection to 300 cars.[25]

On November 30, 2006, two Metro employees were struck from behind and killed on the Yellow Line near the Eisenhower Avenue Station while performing routine track maintenance. The operator of the train was found to be at fault in a preliminary investigation for not following appropriate emergency braking procedures. The accident was the third fatal accident involving a Metro employee in a little over a year. An investigation is currently being conducted by the NTSB, and WMATA has announced new maintenance procedures, including limiting track inspections between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. as well as lowering train speed to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) when within 600 feet (180 m) of inspectors.

CAF 5152 following the derailment.

Subway train derails in Washington, D.C.On January 7, 2007, a Green Line train derailed near downtown Washington, sending 16 people to the hospital and prompting the rescue of 60 people from a tunnel. The accident happened at about 3:45 p.m. near the underground Mount Vernon Square station. There were about 150 people on the train. At least one person had a serious but not life-threatening injury. The other injuries were mostly "bumps and bruises," and one of those with minor injuries was pregnant. Part of the six-car train, consisting of 5000-Series cars, had pulled into the station when the fifth car left the track and hit the tunnel wall.[26] About 60 people in the last two cars had to wait about 45 minutes for firefighters to reach them and escort them through the tunnel on a catwalk. Passengers in the first four cars were able to exit on their own through the front two cars, which were already at the station platform. There was no fire, and the cause of the derailment is being investigated. Inbound and outbound trains were sharing a single-track at the time while workers were installing communications cables. It appears that the switch used to route trains between the two tracks may have contributed to the accident. Witnesses said people started to panic when the six-car train began shaking, and some passengers began running to the back of the train. Service on the Green and Yellow lines was halted in both directions around the station, and a shuttle bus took passengers around the accident scene.

There have been several less-serious derailments of Metrorail trains, such as the January 20, 2003, derailment of a Blue Line train near Reagan National Airport.

Accountability and controversy
Other serious incidents included an electrical fire on March 18, 2004, during morning rush hour.[27] The fire occurred deep underground, on the Red Line between the Woodley Park-Zoo and Dupont Circle stations. This caused a major disruption in service that sent thousands of stranded passengers onto Connecticut Avenue, with no good plan by authorities to deal with the situation. Occurring just days after the Madrid train bombings, this incident highlighted Metro's shortcomings when it comes to emergency preparedness.

On July 27, 2004, rainstorms flooded a control room located at the Silver Spring station, damaging electronic equipment used for operating Red Line trains between the Takoma and Forest Glen stations. As a result, Red Line trains were manually operated for two weeks, reducing the speed of the trains through the affected area, causing significant delays for passengers.[28]

With aging infrastructure and rail cars, the Metrorail system has experienced numerous rail cracks that have required single-tracking (trains in both directions sharing the same track) during rush hour. Unlike the New York City Subway and other systems, the original design of the rail system provides just two rail tracks (one in each direction) throughout the entire system; the Metrorail system has no "sidings" for disabled trains to switch onto. Therefore, when an incident occurs, no matter how minor (such as a sick passenger), there is no way for subsequent trains to go around the affected train, causing trains to back up behind the affected train, resulting in quite significant delays. When this happens, trains are "single-tracked" (trains going in both directions sharing the track on the same side), which, again, results in significant delays. Another cause for delays is the frequent mechanical break-down of Metrorail trains while they are in service (because of the age of some of the rail cars and lack of repairs). This causes the entire train to be offloaded, with passengers attempting to reboard onto subsequent trains, which often become packed with the extra passengers.

Further controversy surfaced in 2004, when it became known that employees of Penn Parking, the company contracted by Metro to collect parking fees at Metrorail stations, had stolen substantial amounts of cash. Metro terminated the contract with Penn Parking, and on June 28, 2004, implemented a cashless parking system, in which customers are required to pay for parking with SmarTrip cards.[29]

The parking lots typically fill up quickly on weekdays because of the appeal both for tourists and for commuters from outer suburbs to drive their cars to the outlying stations and take the train in. The cashless parking system created a problem because full, unmanned parking lots trapped drivers who were unable to park and leave without paying $10.00 - the minimum initial cost of a SmarTrip card via the SmarTrip vending machine ($5.00 for the card, and $5.00 initial value). The burden on tourists and single time parkers is highest, because the cost of the card itself is non-refundable and a single time user would be left with an unused balance of $1.50. If drivers plan to purchase the SmarTrip cards in the station, as the signs warn, they may not be able to park legally in order to do so. On January 2, 2006, Metro implemented a change in parking lot revenue hours, so that on weekday mornings, the exit gates from the parking lot would remain open until 10:30 AM.[30]

In 2005, General Manager Richard A. White led efforts to improve accountability and dialogue with customers. This included independent audits, town hall meetings, online chats with White and other management officials, and improved signage in stations. Despite these efforts, however, the Board of Directors announced White's dismissal on January 11, 2006. Dan Tangherlini replaced White as interim General Manager, effective February 16, 2006.[31] Tangherlini was considered a leading candidate for Metro's top job on a permanent basis before he resigned to work as City Administrator under Mayor Adrian Fenty. Tangherlini was replaced as interim general manager by Jack Requa, Metro's chief bus manager. On November 14, 2006, it was announced in The Washington Post that John B. Catoe Jr., the deputy chief executive of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and a Washington, D.C. native, had been selected as Metro's new permanent general manager.[32]

Fare structure
Metrorail fare is not fixed; it varies based on the distance traveled and the time of day. During regular hours (weekdays from opening until 9:30 am, 3-7 pm, and 2 a.m. to closing), fares can be anywhere from $1.35 to $3.90. During reduced fare hours (all other times), fares can be up to $2.35.[33] Fares can be paid using either farecards or SmarTrip cards. Under both methods, users need to use the cards both to enter and exit the stations. The fare is deducted from the balance of the card upon exit.[34]


The front face of a typical Metrorail farecard. The numbers indicate the amount of credit (in dollars) remaining on the card.
Commuters purchase farecards from a Passes/Farecards machine equipped with a SmarTrip target.Farecards, unlike the payment systems of many subway systems, must be used twice per trip; once upon entry and once per exit, which is used to compute the variable fare (a similar farecard system is used on the BART system in San Francisco). Farecards and SmarTrip cards can be used for multiple trips; farecards can hold up to $45 in value, although riders are prevented from entering the system if their farecard contains less than the minimum trip value.[35]

The value remaining on the farecard must meet or exceed the assessed fare, or the outgoing faregate will not allow the rider to exit. If the remaining value on a farecard is insufficient, "Exitfare" machines must be used to add to the farecard's value before the passenger can exit.[34]

There are three types of passes available to most riders: the "One Day Pass," the "7-Day Short Trip Pass," and the "7-Day Fast Pass." Seniors and the disabled may obtain "Senior-Disabled" farecards. Also, schoolchildren may use the "SmartStudent Pass." Passes are always issued in the form of paper farecards; a SmarTrip card cannot serve as a pass. These passes are sold in stations by the blue farecard vending machines, or at Metrorail sales facilities (such as at Metro Center).

The One Day Pass allows for unlimited travel on Metro from 9:30 A.m. to closing on weekdays, and all day on weekends and federal holidays. It may not be used during the morning rush period.

The 7-Day Short Trip Pass is valid for a week from first usage. The pass may be used during rush periods for rides that would normally cost $2.20 or less. Exitfare machines must be used to pay fare exceeding $2.20. Outside of rush periods, the pass may be used for any rail trip.

The 7-Day Fast Pass is also valid for a week from first usage but carries no fare restrictions; it may be used for unlimited Metrorail rides.

The SmartStudent Pass is available for use by students in Washington, D.C., elementary and secondary schools for unlimited travel on Metrorail and Metrobus for school-related purposes. It is not available in farecard machines but is available at Metro sales facilities and some schools within the District of Columbia.

Senior/Disabled farecards and passes may also be purchased at Metrorail sales locations. They function identically to normal passes and farecards, but cost one-half of the standard price; a Medicare card and photo ID must be presented to purchase them. WMATA issues one-month temporary ID cards for those without a Medicare card, obtained in person at WMATA headquarters.[35]

Passengers who enter the Metrorail system may transfer between trains for free, so long as they do not exit through the faregates.

Metro offers a discounted rate to passengers transferring from Metrorail to Metrobus of 35¢ on regular routes and $2.10 on express routes. Rail passengers with SmarTrip are automatically charged the reduced transfer fare. Riders paying with farecards must obtain a transfer ticket from dedicated machines inside their origin Metrorail station to obtain the discounted fare.[36]

Riders can use SmarTrip—a rechargeable, contactless stored-value smart card issued by WMATA—for electronic payment of fares on Metrorail, Metrobus, and the DC Circulator bus system. SmarTrip cards are required to park at a Metro-operated parking garage, as of June 28, 2004. To use the card, riders touch it to "SmarTrip targets" placed on faregates and fare machines. Up to $300 in value can be stored on SmarTrip at any given time.

The SmarTrip card costs five dollars. Riders can buy empty SmarTrip cards at Metrorail sales facilities. Vending machine at some Metrorail stations (major transfer stations; stations with parking facilities) also dispense SmarTrip cards for $10, which includes a $5 initial fare value.[37]

Metrorail's "Exitfare" machines predate the introduction of the SmarTrip system; rather than upgrade all Exitfare machines, Metro allows riders bearing a SmarTrip card to leave the system if their card's balance is insufficient to cover the assessed fare. However, the card must be brought back to a positive balance before it can be used to enter again.[37] This does not apply to Metro parking garages; the card must contain sufficient positive value to pay the full fee in order to exit.[38]

While fares and advertising provide some revenue for Metro, significant funding is contributed by each jurisdiction that it serves, as well as by the states of Maryland and Virginia. Fares and other revenue fund 57.6% of daily operations while state and local governments fund the remaining 42.4%.[3] Metrorail is unusual among major public transportation systems in having no dedicated source of funding. Instead, each year WMATA must ask each local jurisdiction to contribute funding, which is determined by a formula that equally considers three factors: (1) population density, as of the 2000 Census; (2) average weekday ridership; (3) number of stations in each jurisdiction. Under this formula, the District of Columbia contributes the greatest amount (34%), followed by Montgomery County (18.7%), Prince George's County (17.9%), Fairfax County (14.3%), Arlington County (9.9%), the City of Alexandria (4.7%), the City of Falls Church (0.3%), and the City of Fairfax (0.3%).[39]

It is often argued that this formula places disproportionate burden on District of Columbia taxpayers. WMATA and District officials have pleaded that the Federal government should contribute more funding, reflecting that a substantial portion of the Federal workforce use Metro to commute from the suburbs. Tourists also comprise a significant portion of ridership, and Metro provides an instrumental role in transporting people during special events, such as presidential inaugurations. Several stations located in the District serve these purposes rather than serving local residents.

In 2005, Representative Tom Davis of Virginia introduced bill H.R. 3496, which offered WMATA a ten-year federal funding infusion worth $1.5 billion. The offer was contingent upon WMATA implementing more accountability measures, providing the federal government two seats on its board of directors, and on enactment of legislation by the District of Columbia and the states of Maryland and Virginia to permanently provide WMATA with dedicated sources of revenue worth $150 million per year. The bill passed in the House of Representatives 242-120, but died in the Senate after being referred to a committee until its expiration at the end of the congressional session.[40][41] It is unclear whether the bill will be reintroduced in the 110th Congress.

Future expansion

Silver Line
Rumors have abounded for years about transit service to Dulles International Airport and points west, either by Metro or other systems. There was even a study in the early 1990s that proposed a series of civil tiltrotor stations as a possible commuting option from places such as Reston, Manassas, Leesburg, Columbia, and other points in the greater Washington area.[42] Like many other plans, this stopped at the initial assessment stage for fiscal and political reasons.[citation needed] Light rail systems and express bus lines have also been suggested as a possibility within the District or Northern Virginia. A test station was built at the airport around 1970 and was located some 28 feet (8.5 m) below the parking lot area.[43]

In 2002, plans were formalized to bring a 23-mile (37 km) extension to the Orange Line from near the West Falls Church station to Route 772 in Loudoun County, Virginia. This would mean a mass transit connection from Washington proper to the business centers of Herndon, Reston, and Tysons Corner, and provide a link to Dulles Airport. On June 10, 2004, the Federal Transit Administration approved the first phase of the project to begin. It is scheduled to reach Wiehle Avenue in Reston in 2011 and Virginia Route 772, beyond Dulles Airport, in 2015.[44]

Purple Line
Controversy has attended proposals to build a Purple Line, linking Bethesda and Silver Spring, Maryland, thereby connecting the two branches of the Red Line to the north of Washington by rail. It would later be possibly extended to New Carrollton, Maryland, thus also connecting branches of the Green and Orange lines, and eventually around the entire Capital Beltway, linking all the Metro endpoints together, as seen in a proposal from the Sierra Club.[45] This line has been conceived as a light rail line traveling along a private right-of-way for at least some portion of its length, as an elevated monorail, and also as a rapid bus line. The proposal has met fierce opposition from some of the residents along the certain areas of the line. Others have noted difficulties in obtaining the funds to build it.[46]

Blue Line extension
An extension to Fort Belvoir had been studied in 1999, either as a light rail extension or Metrorail. With the ongoing BRAC realignment expected to move 18,000 jobs to Ft. Belvoir by 2012, new interest has been placed on this possible extension. In 2005, it was estimated to cost $700 million to $800 million.[47]

Columbia Pike streetcar
In conjunction with Arlington and Fairfax counties, Metro has proposed to build a streetcar line on Columbia Pike in Arlington.[48]

Corridor Cities Transitway

A map of the officially proposed CCT route (orange), with an alternate alignment proposed by the Action Committee for Transit (blue).Main article: Corridor Cities Transitway
A proposed light rail or bus rapid transit line that would run from the Shady Grove Metro station in Gaithersburg, Maryland northwest to Clarksburg, Maryland.

District streetcars
Metro broke ground on a light rail line in the Anacostia area on November 13, 2004. The project is a demonstration to examine the usefulness of building a light rail line that would help people who live too far away from subway stations by ferrying them to the main Metro network. The line consists of 2.7 miles (4.3 km) of track and six stations. Service was expected to begin in autumn 2006.[49] However, in April 2005, District transportation officials put the project on hold to negotiate with CSX Transportation, the owners of the 2.7 mile railroad right-of-way they had originally planned to run the light rail on. District officials had agreed to pay CSX $16 million for the right of way, but city officials discovered that CSX does not own all of the right of way - in fact, the District is among the property owners - raising concerns about what the city was paying for and what it was getting. As a result of this incident, the District has begun to plan an alternate 2.2 mile (3.5 km) route to run on city streets. No work has been done since, and no operations start date has been defined.[50] The new plan has been met with neighborhood opposition.[51] Additionally, the District is planning to expand its network with additional streetcar lines throughout the rest of the city. On January 20, 2006, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation announced that it would begin building a streetcar line on H Street, NE, from Union Station to Benning Road as part of its Great Streets initiative. This is the same route established by the Columbia Railway Company in 1870.

Green Line extension
Maryland has proposed extending the Green line from the current northern terminus in Greenbelt to connect with Baltimore-Washington International Airport via Fort Meade, home of the National Security Agency. The link would be built in the next two decades to accommodate some of the growth expected in the Howard and Anne Arundel County regions as jobs move in with the recent military reorganization.[52]

M Street subway
To increase travel capacity through downtown DC, a proposal was presented in the early 2000s to reroute the Blue line between Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory, so that it would no longer share tracks with the Orange line. Instead, from Rosslyn, it would pass through a new station in Georgetown, cross the Red line at Dupont Circle and again at Union Station, then rejoin its existing eastward branch at Stadium-Armory.[53] The proposal was eventually rejected for being too expensive.[54]

Southern Maryland transitway
A light rail system for the southern Maryland counties of Charles and St. Mary's is being discussed, growing out of the southern terminus of the Green Line (Branch Avenue) and connecting to the rapidly growing area of Waldorf and other towns along MD Route 5.[55]

Mobile phone service
Verizon Wireless is presently the only wireless phone company (initially under the corporate name Bell Atlantic) to provide service in the underground sections of the system, since 1997. There are negotiations under way to open this underground service to other wireless carriers.[56][57]


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