Do We Really Want An Aqua Line?
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
As someone who doesn't really have a dog in the fight regarding the proposed Metrorail Blue Line rush-hour train diversion, the one point I wanted to make is that Metro needs to consider how to identify and explain the new train pattern to visitors and infrequent riders, as well as commuters.
Ideally, I'd say the new train pattern should get an entirely new color: Blue + green = aqua, maybe? I'm guessing this will be difficult for Metro to deal with, but given the clear and simple nature of most of the maps on Metrorail, it would be a shame if they mess it up now.
Maybe it is finally time for Metro to grow up and stop using line colors as the primary route designation and move to numbers or letters or both, like more complex subway systems the world over.
As someone who grew up getting lost on New York's numbered and lettered subways, I say: Keep the colors.
Metro's proposal to alter the destination of some Blue Line trains would add needed capacity to the rail system without an expensive new bridge or tunnel. But the rerouting would challenge Metro's customer communications.
"For the first time, I'm getting on a train where the destination point is on a different line," Metro board member Peter Benjamin said during the board's first look at the proposal on Feb. 14. Unless much attention is paid to how the trains are designated, he said, the Blue Line split could end in "a lot of very confused customers going to the wrong places."
Some rush-period trains from Franconia-Springfield would follow the traditional route through the Rosslyn tunnel and head east to Largo, and others would cross the Potomac via the Yellow Line bridge and wind up in Greenbelt. This would address growing demand at stations on the east side of downtown while allowing more trains from the western suburbs to get through the Rosslyn tunnel.
But there's more: To avoid a reduction in service for Largo passengers, some Orange Line trains from Vienna that normally head for New Carrollton would wind up in Largo.
You don't need to memorize this. Metro is going to spend months gathering public reaction before refining the proposal.