There are two major motives behind Rush Plus: Clear some room in the Rosslyn tunnel for the eventual arrival of Silver Line trains, and relieve crowding. In brochures, public announcements and newspaper ads, Metro says the overall effect will be to improve service for about 110,000 riders.
Metro’s customers don’t care about the overall effect. All they know is that the transit authority is messing with their rides. So let’s go beyond the brochures and look at how the changes will affect each line on June 18.
(And in the coming days, look for more Rush Plus information on the Web at www.washingtonpost.com and on your mobile device at mobile.washingtonpost.com.)
There will be bigger gaps between Blue Line trains. Metro will withdraw some trains from the traffic jam at the Rosslyn tunnel by eliminating every third Blue Line train on the route between Franconia-Springfield in Virginia and Largo Town Center in Maryland.
This Monday morning, Blue Line trains are scheduled to arrive as usual to King Street station at 6:34, 6:40, 6:46. When Rush Plus begins the following Monday, they’re scheduled to arrive at 6:39, 6:45 and 6:57.
If you reach the platform just as the doors are closing on that 6:45 train, you won’t see another Blue Line train for 12 minutes because of the missing train.
This new gap at the Virginia stations is what worries Blue Line riders most, especially if their destinations are Rosslyn, via Arlington Cemetery, and on through the tunnel under the Potomac River to the west side of the District. But Metro also is adding trains to the Yellow Line, which serves some of those same Blue Linestations in Virginia before crossing the Potomac to L’Enfant Plaza. This should ease some of that angst among Blue Line riders, add service in the middle of the District, and make the whole ride more confusing.
Metro is creating a new version of the Yellow Line to run between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt. Franconia-Springfield is normally a terminal for the Blue Line only and Greenbelt is normally a terminal for the Green Line only. The regular rush-hour service on the Yellow Line between Huntington and Mount Vernon Square will continue.
Transit officials have been working since 2008 on a plan to better serve the north-south corridor through the center of the District. “That’s where the cranes are,” Metro planner Jim Hughes would say in discussing the construction boom that has created more jobs and housing in that zone.