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“This is a Yellow Line train to Stadium-Armory!”

February 12, 2012, 7:47 PM

Yes, you read that right. This weekend, Metro ran an unusual Yellow Line service due to the need to shut down the Fenwick Bridge over the Potomac River to do track maintenance. Because of this, the Yellow Line ran between Huntington and Stadium-Armory, following the Blue Line’s normal route through Arlington Cemetery and Metro Center. And the destination signs for northbound/eastbound trains appeared as such:

Yellow Line to Stadium-Armory

Thus going through the downtown area, you had three services running along the C and D Routes through downtown: Orange Line, Blue Line, and Yellow Line. There was no Yellow Line service along the E and F Routes in the downtown area (so it was Green only through there), and service was suspended entirely in both directions on the L Route (the bridge).

So my question is, with only two stations that are exclusively Yellow Line, why not just eliminate the Yellow Line entirely for those weekends when Metro shuts down the bridge? Without the bridge, there’s no real need to have a Yellow Line, since the key feature of the Yellow Line is the connection between the Green Line tunnel and Virginia.

I can sense the question: how do you service Eisenhower Avenue and Huntington if you’re not going to have a Yellow Line? What you do is you run trains to Huntington as Blue Line trains. I don’t consider a bifurcated Blue Line service in Alexandria to be unreasonable for a few reasons. First of all, whenever Metro does single tracking operations along the J Route, all Blue Line trains are sent to Huntington and a special shuttle train services King Street, Van Dorn Street, and Franconia-Springfield. Thus it is not unheard of to run Blue Line service to Huntington, and is in fact a somewhat regular occurrence. As for a bifurcated Blue Line service, this is what Metro is already planning to do with Yellow Line trains when the Silver Line opens, sending Yellow Line trains to both Huntington and Franconia-Springfield via the L Route. That move basically establishes that any services that use the bridge should be signed as Yellow Line trains, and that any trains that go through Arlington Cemetery should be Blue Line trains. This was also done for a number of years when Metro ran a special service pattern on July 4, where, even with the Virginia terminals switched, Blue went through Arlington Cemetery and Yellow went over the bridge. Thus it seems worthwhile to extend that logic here. Thus every other Blue Line train would go to Huntington instead of Franconia-Springfield. If ridership numbers don’t justify sending all of the trains from both terminals to Largo Town Center, then turn the Huntington trains at Stadium-Armory like they’re doing.

And then of course the Green Line tunnel seemed to do just fine without sharing with the Yellow Line for a weekend. Having no Yellow Line at Fort Totten and Gallery Place was a very good reminder that the bridge was out of service, and that I needed to make my transfer from the Red Line at Metro Center (I was going to Pentagon City). That’s also why I don’t see a compelling reason to have a Yellow Line when the bridge is out. Without the bridge, you’re running Green Line service in DC – thus just call it the Green Line. Likewise for Virginia, without the bridge, you’re running a Blue Line service, so just call it Blue Line.

So in short: I have no problems with the train movements as they existed this weekend. I do, however, take issue with what Metro is calling various trains.

Web site: WMATA press release about this weekend's track work

Song: A Yellow Line to Stadium-Armory arrives at Pentagon City station

Quote: By the way, if the lettered rail routes I'm discussing sound unfamiliar, here's a quick rundown:
A Route: Metro Center upper level to Shady Grove (Red Line)
B Route: Metro Center upper level to Glenmont (Red Line)
C Route: Metro Center lower level to Huntington via Arlington Cemetery (Orange, Blue, Yellow Lines)
D Route: Metro Center lower level to New Carrollton (Orange and Blue Lines)
E Route: Gallery Place lower level to Greenbelt (Green and Yellow Lines)
F Route: Gallery Place lower level to Branch Avenue (Green and Yellow Lines)
G Route: D&G junction east of Stadium-Armory to Largo Town Center (Blue Line)
J Route: C&J junction south of King Street to Franconia-Springfield (Blue Line)
K Route: C&K junction at Rosslyn to Vienna (Orange Line)
L Route: C&L junction at Pentagon to F&L junction at L'Enfant Plaza (Yellow Line)

Categories: WMATA