Things are pretty crowded on Metrorail these days, with record numbers of passenger trips (more than 600,000 a day). I recently asked you to rank the Metro lines from the most crowded to the least. Lots of entries. Couldn't find anyone who guessed right. I thought you'd like to know how the lines compare.

Metro last measured crowding conditions in the spring at the most congested stations during evening rush hours. Here are Metro's figures of the most crowded lines:

* Green Line (103 passengers per car).

* Orange Line and Yellow Line, (96 passengers per car, each).

* Red Line (91 passengers per car).

* Blue Line (86 passengers per car).

I suspect each of you figured your line was worst. Metro is adding new cars starting this fall. Lines with four-car trains will be the first to receive them. Once every line has six-car trains, new cars will be added to turn some into some eight-car trains. When all 184 of the new cars are added, two-thirds of the fleet will have six-car trains and the rest will have eight-car trains. That should bring relief.

Meaning of Police Lights

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As I drove along Loughboro Road, I became aware of a D.C. squad car following behind me that had two flashing strobe lights on the ends of the rooftop light bars. The red and blue lights were not on. He followed me with no sense of urgency.

When I turned into Foxhall Road, the squad car continued by me. Do these strobe lights serve any function?

David A. Ditmars


I guess you could call it a public relations action. For the past year or so, D.C. police have illuminated the strobe lights on the tops of their marked cars to "let the community and citizens know we are there," according to Officer Junis Fletcher, a spokesman for the department.

They are mounted on all marked cars and are supposed to be on. Motorists don't have to pull over unless they see the red and blue lights flashing.

Have Questions? I'll Travel!

I have finished this round of speaking engagements and am ready to book some more between Sept. 15 and the end of the year.

Most of my appearances so far have been at Kiwanis, Rotary, village and newcomer groups, from Manassas to St. Mary's County. I find that they have concerns about area transportation and are not shy about speaking up with questions and observations.

What works best are groups of 35 to 75 people weekdays at lunchtime. I'll travel anywhere in our metropolitan area. There is no charge. These are mostly question-and-answer sessions rather than speechifying.

To request a Dr. Gridlock appearance, contact Please be sure to estimate the number of guests.

Wilson Bridge's Ripple Effect

In case you are unaware, it bears repeating that major construction delays around the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project will extend through 5 a.m. tomorrow.

You know it's serious when officials warn of 90-minute delays and 15-mile backups. What they are doing is temporarily narrowing the Capital Beltway approach to the bridge in Virginia, creating the most intrusive impact yet on traffic.

Motorists should avoid northbound Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia and the roads that feed into it, the Beltway between the Springfield interchange and the Wilson Bridge, the Beltway in Maryland near the bridge, and the roads that feed into it.

"Stay away," said John Undeland, spokesman for the bridge project. That's probably good advice.

Online Forum

Dr. Gridlock will resume taking your questions and comments in an online forum tomorrow at

I'll start collecting questions at noon and then take more and post responses between 1 and 2 p.m.

I would especially like to hear whether the Wilson Bridge affected your weekend travel.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails at or faxes at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.