Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

'Rush Plus' will be Metro's name for the Blue/Yellow line realignment

February 10, 2012 - 01:41 PM
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(Photo: Courtesy of WMATA)

WMATA has finally chosen a name for the long-planned Blue/Yellow line realignment happening this summer.

"In June, we'll implement 'Rush Plus,'" Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said at the Jan. 26 board meeting, "increased train service during peak travel times on the Blue, Yellow, Orange, and Green lines." 

"Rush Plus." What do you think of the name, D.C.? Metro has planned this train realignment for years to accommodate shifting ridership numbers and interviewed people in December to get a sense on how to shape their communications materials for the months ahead. WMATA already has a new logo for the Rush Plus service coming in June, visible above. Metro realized early on that "Blue/Yellow line realignment" wasn't a phrase that meant much to the system's riders and knew it needed to spin another.

"It really didn't capture the fact that there were four lines that benefited," said Dan Stessel, chief spokesperson for WMATA. He added that brainstorming for the name was "entirely internal — no ad agency required."

Metro has a long history of attention-grabbing names: Operation Cool Breeze, Metro Forward, the infamous Virtual Tunnel, Farragut Crossing, Metro Opens Doors, and so on. Now we can add "Rush Plus" to the mix. It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue but at least we have a sense of what Metro hopes to convey, right? A rider hears "Rush Plus" and they might somehow grasp that we're talking about rush hour and more service. Two words. Bam. I just wish "rush" and "plus" sounded better when you say them together. Seriously, just try saying the phrase five times fast if you don't believe me.

Chocolate strawberries
A new map will show changes to peak service.(Photo: WMATA)

As part of the alignment, WMATA will move a third of Blue Line trains over to the Yellow Line during rush hour — specifically, redirecting the Blue Line trains coming from Franconia-Springfield over to the Yellow Line bridge and joining the Yellow and Green line north-south stretch up to Greenbelt — and add three trains an hour to the Orange Line from West Falls Church to Largo Town Center, according to statements from last year. WMATA has estimated that nearly half of all riders (108,000 people) will benefit from this shift during rush hour. Much of the impetus comes from heavy crowding at the Rosslyn Metro station, which has operated at capacity throughout recent years, and anticipation of the future Silver Line.

The losers in the Rush Plus revolution will all ride the Blue Line — direct service to Rosslyn and west to Vienna will drop from 10 to seven trains an hour during rush hour, as will direct Blue Line service to western downtown stations like Foggy Bottom and McPherson Square. The former will affect about 3,300 riders and increase morning rush hour wait times from six minutes to nine minutes (with some wait time predicted as long as 12 minutes and a third of riders predicted to have longer waits) while the second downtown dimension will affect 9,000 riders ("23% of Blue/Yellow South entries," WMATA says). A little over one in 20 Metro riders will experience longer waits during rush hour ("up to a maximum of six minutes") while more than four in 10 will experience faster service, according to some of the most recent estimates last year.

Metro will likely begin rolling out elements of the Rush Plus next month and hopes to let riders know what changes are coming in a "targeted" way. The experience of a rider at Courthouse on the Orange Line will be different from someone at Gallery Place on the Green Line. During rush hour, you also now won't be able to rely on train color as easily when determining what direction you're going. An Orange Line train may well be the one terminating at Largo Town Center rather than Blue, even though much of the voyage is the same as on the Blue Line. Metro's new maps, with dashed lines to represent the rush hour service, will reflect the changes and be installed at the same time as these changes occur.

 "The destination sign becomes important," Stessel said. "By a 10 to one margin, it's a benefit for customers."

Start learning the name now, D.C. riders. Rush Plus will be coming to a station near you before you know it.

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