Planning chief to discuss Metro’s long-range goals


The look of the future: Metro’s next generation of rail cars will overhaul the interior design. (Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

Metro’s chief planner, Shyam Kannan, is scheduled to join me at noon for an online discussion in which he will take your questions about the transit agency’s long-range goals contained in the plan called Momentum.

You can submit questions now and then return to the chat at noon using this link.

Here’s a refresher about key goals for 2025 and beyond as outlined earlier this year in the Momentum program.

Shyam Kannan
Metro planning director Shyam Kannan. (Metro photo)

Metro 2025
Kannan has estimated it would cost $6 billion in 2012 dollars to increase the capacity of the existing system and improve the effectiveness of the rail and bus networks by 2025.

Here’s what that round of investment would buy:

  • Full eight-car train service at a cost of $2 billion. That would increase capacity at peak hours in the peak direction by 35 percent. But there are consequences. For example, unloading eight-car train after eight-car train at Gallery Place-Chinatown would further worsen crowding on the Red Line platform — something that also would need to be dealt with by 2025.
  • Complete the Metrobus Priority Corridor Network for $600 million. Rapid-transit bus service along 24 corridors, sometimes along bus-only lanes, could add 100,000 riders to the regional bus system and reduce traffic.
  • Improve capacity and train movement in Metrorail’s core for $1 billion. Pedestrian tunnels connecting Metro Center to Gallery Place and Farragut North to Farragut West would reduce train-to-train transfers.
  • Improve trip-planning information in the region for $400 million. Make Metro a completely “self-service system,” Kannan said.
  • Add switches and side tracks for $500 million. These would increase Metro’s flexibility in moving around trains and easing crowding.
  • Prepare for bus-service growth in emerging corridors for $500 million. This would add about 400 buses and a garage.
  • Increase rail service between Pentagon and Rosslyn for $1 billion. This could be done by redesigning track connections or building a separate station in Rosslyn.

Transit 2040
All that isn’t enough to meet the region’s mid-century need, Metro officials said. The 2025 programs should be followed by more extensive plans. Metro could lead some efforts and work with local jurisdictions, or play a supporting role on others. The Momentum program identifies these major concepts, likely to combine for a cost at least three times the 2025 investment:

  • Add rail lines in the region’s center. Rail service passing through Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza eventually maxes out, even with the 2025 improvements. So the program envisions a new north-south tunnel under 10th Street SW/NW, heading west at Thomas Circle so the Green and Yellow lines could operate in separate tunnels. A second tunnel through Rosslyn to Georgetown and along M Street to Thomas Circle would add east-west capacity.
  • Build links among lines at Pentagon. The program would expand on the 2025 concept for Rosslyn. Orange and Silver line riders could gain a connection via Pentagon to what’s now the Yellow Line bridge, possibly with a second station at Pentagon.
  • With capacity enhanced in the region’s core, planners could consider extending the Orange Line to Centreville and Bowie and the Blue Line to Potomac Mills. That service also could be provided by fast buses or light rail.
  • Metro could help local jurisdictions figure out how to create light-rail or rapid-bus connections along heavily traveled corridors, such as New Carrollton-King Street and North Bethesda-Tysons.
  • Metro could support efforts to connect the District and Virginia via streetcars, and to link the MARC and VRE commuter rail services.
Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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