Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Metro finally allows riders to upload money to SmarTrip cards online

September 22, 2011 - 02:29 PM
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(Photo: WMATA)

Metro is releasing announcements left and right amid today's board meeting, social media, and press releases. What should you know and expect from Jackson Graham and what changes will you see immediately? Here's a few:

• Start uploading money onto your SmarTrip card online! You can do so any time now. Metro has been testing this feature for a couple months now and has finally made it widely available. Go here and do it. Do you feel 21st century yet?

Crazy facts: The Metro pilot program apparently involved 150,000 people. That's a whole lot of testing! But diligence pays — literally — when you're talking about money, so I suppose this is a good thing. Also, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles has a great little soundbite in Metro's press release: "Customers can now go online rather than getting in line." How terrific is that sound bite? Bam. You go, Metro.

• The second of the brand-new Foggy Bottom Metro station escalators is working!

Here's a photo. Work on the third Foggy Bottom escalator begins Monday. WMATA replaced the first earlier this summer and also plans to add a staircase and a canopy.

• No more fare discounts for certain Anacostia Metrobus lines.

• Last night Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn alluded to a "reconfiguration" of the Gallery Place Metro station that we would be hearing about before long. Well, riders, some news is in — Metro is in the middle of its Gallery Place Station Access and Capacity Improvement study, according to its Office of Long Range Planning. The Chinatown station, we learn, is rather extraordinarily busy. The station had on average 26,000 daily passenger boardings in May of 2011. What we know now isn't much aside from the fact that the study will "provide simulations of the projected pedestrian environment on the platform at key milestone years, and will measure the effectiveness of the proposed capacity improvements."

An Office of Long Range Planning blog post provides some context about how congested the station gets, with its bottlenecks and chokepoints, and looks at factors like the width of the Red Line platform. Congestion there truly is terrible, and this study is wise, especially given how crowded the system has grown over recent years. Expect potential changes to Gallery Place once this study concludes. There's also this nifty graph that shows how much more crowded the Gallery Place station has gotten over time:

Chocolate strawberries
(Photo: WMATA)
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