What Blue Line riders should see on platform signs

Blue Line riders feel they’ve been dissed many ways for the sake of adding Silver Line service to Metro. During Monday’s online chat, some again questioned whether Metro was showing them the promised information on the platform signs that display the next train information.

PID at Rosslyn
Since last week’s cutback on the Blue Line, riders have complained about too many ORs and not enough BLs. (Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

Metro officials have been urging the Blue Line riders, who now have fewer trains, to consider taking the Yellow Line, which now has more trains, even if that means a transfer rather than a direct ride.

In response to their question of “How are we supposed to know whether to switch or wait?” Metro said it would modify the next train displays so they would get that critical, need-to-know information. On the platforms where they needed to know, the information signs would be adjusted so they always show the next Blue Line train, even if it isn’t among the next three arriving, which is what the signs normally would show.

Since that announcement, many Blue Line riders say they look up to see only Orange and Silver, not Blue. (Or in Metro shorthand, they see OR and SV, rather than BL.)

Metro said last week that there was indeed a problem with some signs getting the message, and they had been rebooted. Metro also asked to hear from riders if they continued to spot problems.

But to clarify where they should always see Blue, it’s during the peak period at certain stations where it could help them make travel decisions.

During the afternoon rush, they should always see the next Blue Line train listed on the information signs at these stations, and it will be for the Franconia-Springfield direction: Rosslyn, Foggy Bottom, Farragut West, McPherson Square, Metro Center, Federal Triangle and Smithsonian.

During the morning rush, they should see Blue on platform signs listing information for the Largo direction at these stations: Pentagon, Pentagon City, Crystal City, Reagan National Airport, Braddock Road, King Street and Van Dorn Street.

Elsewhere and at other times, most riders probably just want to see the times and train lengths for the next three arriving trains, just as they have been displayed since the signs were installed.

For example, when I was staked out in the inbound platform at Rosslyn during this morning’s rush, there were plenty of times when the signs displayed only OR and SV trains, no BL’s. But there’s no decision-making opportunity for the Blue Line riders here. It’s not like they’re going to be waiting for a D.C.-bound train at Rosslyn and thinking they might be better off back-tracking to Pentagon and catching a Yellow Line train to their destination.

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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