Friday, May 21, 2004

COMMUTING: Red Line Jealousy

The Red Line, which has seen 42 new rail cars in recent weeks, appears to be on its way to having the system's most frequent service. But that is making people who represent other jurisdictions on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's board seeing red.

From Lyndsey Layton's report in this morning's Washington Post:
Chris Zimmerman, who represents Arlington, said the Red Line was greedy. "The Red Line has to get everything it can," he said.

The Red Line's defenders argue that the line, which is the busiest in the system, needs the pressure valve released. But both the Orange and the Green lines see massive overcrowding on a daily basis during rush hour.

... Under the new plan, "if you ride on the Green Line, you have to wait twice as long for a train and have a train that is 15 percent more crowded" than on the Red Line, said D.C. Council member David A. Catania, who represents the city on the board.

Could there be some underlying class politics here? Red Line commuters in the District can be very arrogant about their commute and wouldn't imagine moving across the river and having to use the Orange or Blue lines. One colleague calls the Red Line, the "smarty pants" line, partly because that Cleveland Park, Woodley Park and Dupont Circle commuters are more likely to be reading substantive daily newspapers or magazines than the free commuter daily Express.

Basic translation of the griping: Now the rich and smart commuters in Upper Northwest and Bethesda are getting more frequent trains. But if you have to transfer to the Green Line, prepare to wait 15 minutes for a train. (Hey WMATA, please put more benches on the Green/Yellow Line platform at Gallery Place-Chinatown.)


At 10:22 PM, Blogger Mats Lematos said...

The red line gets double frequency because it doesn't have to share track with any other line. When you see the orange and blue departing every 12 minutes, for example, it's woven so that a train gets to Roslyn (and serves downtown) every 6 minutes. Since there are no issues with the red sharing track, you get service every 6 minutes, with the trains alternating between full route and Grosvenor-Silver Spring. And, while it is true that red line cars may have slightly fewer riders, keep in mind that red line riders also pay the highest average fare, since the line goes so far out into the suburbs.


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