Metro’s Rush Plus: help or hindrance?

Amy Freedman, wtop.com

Having lived in New York City, my immediate inclination would be to explain Metro’s new Rush Plus plan in the simplest terms: rush hour express trains. However, this is Metro we’re talking about and with WMATA nothing can be that simple.

For those of you not yet familiar with the plan, the basic idea is to increase train numbers on some of the busiest lines and have a couple of routes from Maryland to Virginia where passengers will not have to transfer trains.

The Franconia-Springfield Blue line station will now also be a yellow line station during rush. The yellow line will extend into Maryland to the previously Green- line-only station, Greenbelt. This means you can ride from Franconia-Springfield to Greenbelt without having to transfer. It also means you will get into the District faster from Virginia via the yellow line bridge.

The other major Rush Plus addition is more trains for the Orange line’s previously Blue-only Largo Town Center station. You’ll be able to ride the Orange line from Largo Town Center to Vienna without transferring. This change will bring more passengers to the Largo station and possibly ease congestion at the New Carrollton Orange station.

These changes sound reasonable and are projected to improve the ride for more than 110,000 metro passengers. The down side is that 16,000 passengers who travel the Blue line via Arlington Cemetery will have to endure longer wait times.

What about the fares and the already complicated fare system? According to Metro’s Philip Stewart: There will not be a new fare system or added fee associated with Rush Plus. He says, in fact, that as of July 1 Metro’s peak-of-the-peak fares will also be eliminated and going forward Metro will be operating on a simpler, two tier fare system. Customers will either pay peak or non peak. Whether or not customers benefit from or take advantage of Rush Plus will have no influence on the cost.

As with any major change there is sure to be a good deal of confusion when Rush Plus goes into effect on Monday, June 18. If Metro’s projected numbers hold true then it seems Rush Plus will help more than hinder and could eventually be a welcome improvement to the system.

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