We did the new test to follow up on complaints from Blue Line riders that the new pattern, which removed three Blue Line trains per hour at the peak period, put them at a disadvantage without offering a clear alternative.
Recapping the June 20 test: The two of us traveled from King Street to Farragut West. One took the Blue Line, the other boarded a Yellow Line train to L’Enfant Plaza and transferred to reach the same destination. We wanted to see how crowded the trains and platforms were, while also testing whether some Blue Line riders might be better off taking the Yellow Line, as Metro suggested.
In June, Robert Thomson, who took the Yellow Line and transferred trains at L’Enfant, had seats available on both trains, and arrived at Farragut West after 24 minutes. Mark Berman’s 27-minute trip on a very crowded Blue Line train got him to Farragut West eight minutes after Thomson despite a 10 minute later departure from the King Street station.
Here’s what happened on Thursday, Oct. 18, when we took the same rides.
Thomson’s transfer trip
7:22 a.m. Since the boards can display only three upcoming trains, it’s difficult to spot that big scheduled gap between the Blue Line trains.
And it strikes me that a new rider — someone who wasn’t around for all the springtime publicity about Rush Plus — might not know about the train pattern, and the option of taking different routes. The rider would not have discovered it by using Metro’s online Trip Planner, which showed only the Blue Line options.
8:17 a.m. We could have left much earlier, but I’ve been studying the next-train board waiting for an appropriate gap to duplicate the June test. Now, the board shows these three upcoming trains: A Yellow Line in one minute, another in two minutes and a Blue Line in nine minutes.
8:18 a.m. I take that next Yellow Line train, a six-car, non-Rush Plus one to Mount Vernon Square. Many seats are open.
8:35 a.m. I get off at L’Enfant Plaza and head for the lower level, waiting about a minute for an Orange Line train toward Vienna. It’s crowded, but not packed.
8:49 a.m. At Federal Triangle, the train holds for the fourth time. A train ahead of us has a door problem, the operator says.
8:58 a.m. We reach Farragut West aboard the now-packed train. Trip time: 40 minutes.
Berman’s direct route
8:27 a.m. I board an eight-car Blue Line train heading to Largo. Plenty of people get on with me, but some still wait for another Yellow Line train coming in two minutes, which would mean four such trains in 11 minutes. On my train, a few seats are open, and there’s plenty of standing room.