Sep 26, 2023 - News

Metro is mapping out its future with new stations and signs

A map showing the new Blue Line loop envisioned

A blue Beltway? One concept envisions a Blue Line loop. Rendering courtesy WMATA

The Metro of the future is being conceived now — with visions for new Metro stations, new signs for train and bus lines, and plans to solve the Rosslyn tunnel bottleneck all underway.

Why it matters: Even with Metro's current challenging finances, the agency needs to plan ahead for a region that is projected to grow in population.

What's happening: Looking decades out, Metro is taking feedback until Saturday on six options for the future of the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.

  • Alternative 4, for example, would create a Blue Line loop that adds stations in Georgetown, Buzzard Point, St. Elizabeths, and National Harbor.
  • It would create 180,000 new weekday transit trips and generate $154 million in revenue.
  • In a survey of Prince George's County residents, 87% said they support extending the Blue Line to National Harbor, according to pro-smart growth nonprofit Fort Washington Forward, NBC4 reports.
  • Yes, but: That expansion would cost $30 billion-$35 billion to build.

Other alternatives would extend the Silver Line to Georgetown and east to Fort Lincoln.

  • One big problem is the Rosslyn tunnel bottleneck. The tunnel accommodates 26 trains per hour across the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines, and crowding is expected to become a major squeeze on the system by 2040, DCist reported.
  • The Metro board is expected to make a decision later this year on a future expansion.

State of play: A more immediate change could involve labels for entrances and exits so that riders don't get lost inside stations. Metro's digital maps and displays may see upgrades as well.

  • Another option is numbering rail lines.
  • The colors for rail lines are not going away, Metro general manager Randy Clarke recently told NBC4, but he said adding a number inside the color could be valuable for navigation.

Another ongoing survey called "Better Bus, Better Names" asks the public to help rename bus routes.

Reality check: Metro is asking regional leaders to help come up with $750 million in additional funding by July 2024 to avert devastating cuts.

The bottom line: "All the stuff that people want, you can't do well if you are in a cycle of up-and-down funding," Clarke told NBC4. "We need consistency — just like you would for a business or your home or whatever."

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