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Morning Poll: Metro’s Rush Plus Service

by ARLnow.com — June 25, 2012 at 9:24 am 3,499 55 Comments

Last Monday, Metro officially launched its Rush+ service.

Designed to reduce the rush hour “Orange crush” by adding three additional Orange Line trains per hour, Rush Plus accomplished the enhanced Orange Line service by directing three formerly Blue Line trains per hour over the Yellow Line bridge into the District.

Metro billed Rush+ as “rush hour reinvented,” promising to “reduce crowding and provide new transfer-free travel opportunities.” Has it lived up to expectations?”

Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA

  • Aaron

    I saw a slight improvement last week on the crowdedness of both the inbound and outbound Orange line at rush hour and no change on the normal Blue line. As a line agnostic (Rosslyn FTW!), the total frequency of trains seemed about the same.

  • that guy

    the plan is as about as good as can be expected, and probably does help the orange line riders… but this blue line rider up to Foggy Bottom from Pentagon City has seen a 5-10 minute increase.

  • JnA

    Last weekend’s new on-line activity was googling ‘streetcar accidents’. Most interesting and appalling was ‘streetcar accidents Toronto’.

    • john

      you really need to get out more

    • drax

      Big deal. Google “bus accidents” or “car accidents” for a real thrill.

    • John Fontain

      The videos show a bunch of pictures of accidents involving streetcars and automobiles. Your post implies that the streetcars are at fault, but provides no substantiation. Also, is the rate of streetcar-involved accidents higher than the rate of bus-involved accidents?

    • Avoid the Crush

      Having actually been on a streetcar in Toronto when a car inexplicably thought it was a wise idea to play bumper car with it, I can attest that at least on occasion the drivers in Canada would fit right in with those from Maryland ;oD

      • Arlingtonian Stuck in an Alexandrian Body

        Actually I was in a street car in TO two summers ago on the Spadina line. A car went through an intersection and tboned the car we were in.

        Streetcars on paper seem like a good solution, but human error will always play a factor in causing accidents…

  • ChrisS

    It should be 4:00 to 6:30 instead of 3:30 to 6:00.

    Orange line trains seem more crowded for some reason. And this is with the summer lull. Wait until mid-September.

  • CW

    I stopped riding metro a couple months ago when I went to full-time bike commuting, but it always seemed that the hangup was getting trains through the Rosslyn tunnel anyhow, so I’d wonder if this really would do anything. People not packed as tightly into trains, but trains still all sitting and waiting to go through. Though I guess there is some increase in efficiency with more trains being on the same tracks as opposed to having to take turns switching with Blue.

    Re: the “summer lull” – I am curious, does anyone know how ridership actually looks over the summer? It was always my feeling that, with the exception of on Fridays, the loss of ridership from folks who were out of town was always more than compensated for by the influx of tourists this time of year.

    • ChrisS

      One of the hangups caused by the Rosslyn configuration is the fixed time to operate the switch between the Vienna and Franconia destinations.

      But the weird thing about Rush+ is they seem to be running 3 Orange line trains in a row a lot of times. So the switch delay is not an issue in getting those trains through. But what is an issue is that they force the 3 trains to space themselves out and stay “on schedule”.

      So whereas you used to get trains more frequently in the DC stations (albeit “off schedule”), you now get trains more “on schedule”, which is actually farther apart then what people used to expect. That is, in my opinion, why trains are arriving at Rosslyn more crowded.

    • SomeGuy

      Page 3 of this doc appears to be a plot of monthly ridership data:
      http://wmata.com/about_metro/docs/Q2%20FA%20Report%20FINAL.pdf

      • CW

        Thanks!!!

        Looks to me like tourists and interns more than compensate for vacationers and college kids home on breaks.

        • ChrisS

          There is probably a measurable difference in rush hour numbers. I doubt most tourists are getting on the trains at 7:00 am. At least I notice the difference.

          • CW

            Morning, agreed, but afternoon, I feel like I always see a lot.

          • Parah Salin

            Whenever I see tourists on the Metro in the morning I always want to say to them “Why are you traveling during rush hour? You’re on vacation; sleep in and wait until after 9:30. Then it will be less crowded AND cheaper.”

          • Prefontaine

            I always want to say

            “Why the hell did you come to DC for your vacation?”

  • BreakPause02

    They should have started this during the fall/winter/spring when it is busiest. Starting this during the beginning of summer, when people are on vacation makes it harder to measure any benefit.

    • Data say otherwise

      See link from SomeGuy above. The opposite of your assumption seems to be true. Based on the data in this report, they seem to have started Rush Plus during one of the busiest months of the year.

      [Page 3 of this doc appears to be a plot of monthly ridership data:
      http://wmata.com/about_metro/docs/Q2%20FA%20Report%20FINAL.pdf ]

      However, from a PR standpoint, your recommendation to start at another time might still have been a good one. If Rush Plus had started during a month with lower than average ridership, people would probably have had a better experience during the launch.

      • Does it really?

        Since “rush plus” only affects rush hour, don’t we need rush hour data to know whether the data says otherwise?

        • SomeGuy

          Yes. But from what I can see, Metro doesn’t cough up that data. In fact, they’re only coughing up their distillations of data, not the actual raw source data. Capital Bikeshare is the same way (from what I’ve seen), as are countless other entities. Open government has a long way to go.

          Please try a FOIA request and post what you find.

          • ChrisS

            I’m sure the people over at GGW will get their hands on the data needed to evaluate the rush hour changes. It’s out there, and they do a really good job of reporting on Metro.

          • Whoa

            I’m sure the people over at GGW will get their hands on the data needed … they do a really good job of reporting on Metro

            They do a good job reporting on data, I agree. But as for Metro, they’re not much less sycophantic than Dr. Gridlock.

  • ArlRes

    So far in commuting on the orange line, I’ve been able to get a seat heading downtown from Ballston every day around 9am. On this morning’s train my car had only 10 people. It was standing room only previously, with crowded platforms waiting to get on, so I’ve seen a noticeable improvement.

  • SB

    It was chaos last week. But today my Orange line train had seats open the entire way into the district, so I’d say that was improvement.

  • JohnB2

    So far my commute hasn’t changed, there’s still the delay between Courthouse and Rosslyn, then another between McPSq and Metro Center. The only improvement I saw over the course of last week was that the 8 minutes between orange line trains I saw Mon-Wed lessened back to the usual 3-6 mins by Thurs.

    I don’t think there’s a summer lull either, the tourists more than make up for anybody who is rare enough to have summers off and take the metro to work. And the tourists tend to clog things up. I’d be interested in seeing ridership trending stats.

  • WeiQiang

    i don’t take Metro. no effect on my commute. represent.

    • Southeast Jerome

      Driving yo’ lazy ass eight blocks.

      • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

        clearly you arent the real SEJ – who doesnt curse in their posts.

        • Socialist Kenyan

          Curse?

          • WeiQiang

            duh … you know: “cast a spell”

          • MexicanPolygamist

            Use bad language

          • drax

            “Ass” is in the Bible. Can’t be a bad word.

          • MexicanPolygamist

            I’m not agreeing with the characterization, just trying to help the Kenyan understand.

      • WeiQiang

        somone’s got a good memory

  • http://purple.com/purple.html Captain Pup McPuppo

    where’s the poll? prob a google chrome issue. sigh.

  • Juanita de Talmas

    I have a “reverse” commute; get on in Rosslyn towards Vienna. No difference in the morning in number of trains, but they seemed a bit more crowded. Afternoon trip home does seem a better with less time between trains.

  • METRO FTW

    I ride the orange line every day – I have never driven to work, not even once, and I love the Metro. 99% of the time it works flawlessly for me. There is no better way to commute as far as I am concerned. I can tell no difference with Rush Plus – but then I was happy before……..

  • Corey

    I live in DC but ride the blue from Pentagon City to Rosslyn a few times a week. I know that’s supposed to be the hardest-hit leg of Metro with the reduction in Blue Line trains, but to be honest, it hasn’t been so bad. (I think lots of people who would’ve taken the Blue from Franconia/Springfield to their jobs downtown or at the Pentagon are taking Yellow, instead, which reduces crowding).

    My commute from Adams Morgan to Rosslyn, however, is MUCH better; they added another bus line to Farragut Square, relieving almost all the crowding on that route and making it about 20% faster to boot. I was door-to-door in under 20 minutes this morning.

  • brodies

    I take a bus to Rosslyn where I catch the Blue Line to Cyrstal City. My commute has become worse. The biggest thing is that it’s made the slight unpredictability of my commute more frustrating. Before, if my bus was running a couple minutes late I might have a 6 minute wait for a train. Last week, though, I stood on the platform for a full 15 minutes, in the process watching three nearly empty Orange Line trains pass on their way to Vienna.

    • Jane-Dallas

      I used to have that same commute, but my office moved. It was bad before. I can only imagine the ridiculous wait times you’ll have under “Rush Minus”.

    • drax

      Blue liners are feeling more of the pain, and Orangies less. It’s equalizing.

    • Arlingtonian Stuck in an Alexandrian Body

      I feel your pain. I used to take a bus from Edsall Road to Van Dorn Metro, then take metro to Rosslyn. I gave up because of metro’s lousy service, abnormal wait times at 5PM waiting for a blue line train in Rosslyn, and metro keep pushing its prices up…

      I know drive to Rosslyn every day. It’s cheaper and faster and a lot less stressful (my employer pays for parking), which goes against the reason for mass transit’s existence!

  • Oranger

    Out of 8 trips last week, I waited for 8-11min 4 times. The other times, all afternoon, the trains were jammed and ended up waiting for 1-2 to pass. And I work pretty far into DC. The long delays between Orange, then a bunch in a row with empty cars by the end of the last train, sucks.

  • Blue Rider

    It’s been terrible. I ride the Blue line. I used to wait 5 minutes max for a train and got a seat 90% of the time. Now I wait 10-15 minutes and the trains are packed in like sardines. The Blue line is now what the Orange line used to be. Just traded one set of problems for another.

    • Orange Rider

      Yeah, but now they are your problems, not mine.

      • Red Rider

        Can’t we all just get along?

  • Mike

    I ride Orange from Ballston into DC. I had expected Rush+ to make my commute a little bit better, but it has actualy been significantly worse. Last week, all week, it seemed like the time between trains was longer and the trains were much more crowded.
    I can’t understand it — adding trains to the Orange Line should reduce the crowding, but it didn’t.
    This morning my commute was better, but after 5 days of chaos last week, I am not inclined to think that today shows that everything is ok.
    And as for the Blue Line riders, I’m sympathetic to their situation – I can only imagine how bad it must be to have service actually reduced from its already poor level.
    Somehow Metro found a way to make things worse for everyone.

  • LuvDusty

    I ride every day on orange from Clarendon to Farr. West and back during Rush+.

    Last week I experienced no improvements, actually my waiting time for trains was a bit longer and the trains did not seem any less full.

    Today in the AM rush, I waited a bit less for a train than usual and it was a bit less crowded (not much). So it’s really a wash.

    And until they fix the problem at Rosslyn and start using 10 car trains, this is prob. all they can do.

    • LuvDusty

      Update: This AM’s commute (Tues) was horrible! Super packed, like 10x more than pre-Rush+.

      And to top it off, on my way into the station I saw the sign for fare hikes in July….

      Lovely…

  • A_Waste_of_Time

    I ride the orange line to WFC then, take a bus to work in Reston. The Rush+ has caused the train I take to be 2 minutes earlier, which can make a big difference in my connection TO Rosslyn. Then, at WFC, if I take the later train, (7 minutes), I miss my bus to Reston. This has affected at least 7 others that ride my bus, as we stand in the heat for 30 minutes waiting for the next bus to take us to work. I wonder how long Metro reviewed this study before they came up with the Rush+ idea?

  • T Xoxy

    This is just metro grandstanding — lots of hoopla to give the appearance that Metro management is doing something to fix its sorry operations. The same thing could have been accomplished by simply adding cars to overcrowded trains. Metro has no business running short trains during rush hours. Of course running more 8-car trains would not attract the attention of the media. The stations are long enough to accommodate 10-car trains. Why not do that? We would get more capacity and there would be less opportunity for delays at the usual bottlenecks.

    • JohnB2

      The stations cannot take 10 car trains. I usually try to sit in the last car of 8 car trains and they take up the full platform.

      Metro also does not have enough cars to run a full fleet of 8-car trains during rush hour.

  • b0rk

    Metro is nearing maximum capacity. Too many high-rises being built on the Orange corridor. Silver is just going to break it completely.

  • Brian

    The “orange crush” has just become the “blue crush”. What’s the point? As a blue line rider, there is a distinct degradation in service.

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