Blue Line cutbacks? It’s a long story.


Metro has spent more than a decade planning to accommodate the Silver Line through Rosslyn and send more trains over the Yellow Line bridge into central Washington. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Does this sound familiar?

Metro is also working on a plan to ease the crunch at the Potomac River tunnel by diverting every other rush-hour Blue Line train to the Potomac River bridge that carries the Yellow Line between Northern Virginia and the District. The rerouted trains would skip some Blue Line stations, inconveniencing passengers waiting at those stops while making the trip faster for others. Most significantly, however, the diversion would free up critical tunnel capacity for Orange Line demands.

If it does sound familiar, you’ve got a terrific memory. It’s from a Post story by Peter Whoriskey published Oct. 7, 2004, under the headline, Crush Time on the Orange Line.

It’s the oldest reference I can find in The Post archives to the Metrorail service realignment now taking effect, nearly a decade later.

In the 2004 story, there’s talk about all of today’s crowding problems. But there’s only an if/when reference to the westward extension that eventually would become known as the Silver Line. (Estimated price: $4 billion.) The service change that in 2012 became known as Rush Plus is described as a splitting of the Blue Line, rather than as turning some Blue Line trains into Yellow Line trains, another idea that came along much later, even though the impact on riders was basically the same.

Careful readers might have noted an even older reference to a potential Blue Line split, in a story published Sept. 28, 2001. The story by Katherine Shaver touches on a remarkable number of crowding issues and potential solutions that today’s riders would recognize. For example, crowding at the Rosslyn tunnel was a Metro concern. But the story, which appeared on The Post’s front page, is a sweeping discussion of Metrorail’s problems and doesn’t contain the same alarm bell for Blue Line riders as did the 2004 story. (No link available to the 2001 story.)

Here are a few more stories in the timeline that led to this month’s changes:

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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Robert Thomson | July 20