• MTA Purple Line Bethesda - New Carrollton Light Rail

  • Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.
Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.

Moderators: mtuandrew, therock, Robert Paniagua

  by SemperFiSep11
I figured this topic was good enough to generate many (very angry and passionate) webpages from people who tend to be less than informed on rail transit, so why shouldn't it be good enough for us to kick around?

The appeal of the Metro, in my opinion, is the unanimity of its' aesthetics and equipment as well as the ease of its' use. Taking a time tested success of heavy metro and trying to integrate some sort of politically charged light rail line will end up bringing about things such as the much fabled Silver Line in Boston (bus line mascarading as transit).

Currently the Metro has no grade crossings and complete interchangability of equipment. Bringing in one line that is different (and perhaps two with this Anacostia Line) will require entire new maintenance facilities as well as personell. Furthermore, as we have seen in my home state of New Jersey, often times light rail vehicles are placed second in order to cars at lighted grade crossings. I used to ride the Newark Subway once a week just for fun, but now I hate it. I can literally walk between the new end of the line and Franklin Avenue (old end of line) faster than the LRV goes due to some wonderfully timed grade crossings.

This problem we seem to be having with the routing through a country club brings about several good issues on both sides. The right of eminant domain is necessary for the public good, no doubt. However, we have seen this right abused by our government and, though we support rail to the fullest, we should be wary of any governmental seizure of property (even if it is from country clubbers).

Another little known fact (which my lovely wife pointed out after learning it from an operator of a Metro train) was that the Metro was designed so that any two points on the system were accessible through one transfer at the most. Putting in the Purple Line in any form will make that no longer true. I don't know if this really matters to a lot of people, but it remains a fact.

The unanimity of the Metro system has lead to its' mass appeal from both Americans (who desire transit) and foriegn visitors (who are used to effective transit). While any extension of rail is better than bus, why not do it right? Why not make the Purple Line a heavy line? The Metro is one of the few systems in the country that people are unafraid to transfer trains on. Let's not take a chance with light rail, in my opinion. We might just kill a good thing.

Off the topic but another good point concerning all mass transit is the issue of making money. I have heard on many of the forums here that mass transit cannot make money so stop asking. In my opinion, those poeple are wrong. The problem with mass transit is that it is not priced to make money. Is it $1.50 a ride now? Does anyone have any idea what the actual value of the trip into the government district in Washington is? Fuel, depreciation, time, parking? Stop this insanely low pricing of our services. Charge what the market will bear. Maybe a couple fewer people will ride it but then we can get rid of the argument about rail not making money. I'd pay $3.00 a ride to get to the Dpeartment of Agriculture at rush hour. Heck, I'd pay $4.00-$5.00! It beats sitting in traffic!
Last edited by Jeff Smith on Mon Jul 18, 2016 4:17 pm, edited 2 times in total. Reason: <BUMP>
  by CTAA-Rail
The views you express in this post are uninformed, reactionary, and, ultimately, incorrect. It seems like you have it out for light rail as opposed to heavy rail, which you implicitly claim as the hallmark of good rail transit.

First, you suggest that a system that includes other modes of transit beyond light rail causes a fragmented system. That is simply not true. Consider the oldest rail transit system in the nation: Boston. The light rail Green line is completely separated from the heavy rail lines of the Red, Blue and Orange lines. In fact, each of those heavy rail has its own rolling stock (and the Blue line is even overhead power), and I believe (but not absolutely sure) that there aren't connections between them. Despite this, Boston's rail system is well-used and efficient. There are multiple other cities where light-rail and heavy rail networks co-exist and more importantly complement each other, namely Baltimore, Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Toronto.

You then mention Metro's system features of uniform rolling stock and infrastructure. I agree that this is a beneficial component of the system. However, you then imply that a light-rail line cannot be built grade-separated. You are factually incorrect on this. In fact, most designs of the Inner Purple Line between Bethesda and Silver Spring will have no grade crossings, as the ROW is already nearly separated. You are also wrong about new personnel. While operators for light rail vehicles will need to be trained differently from subway operators, there's no reason why there needs to be a new personnel department or structure. And, although separate maintenance facilities will need to be built for light rail operations, it’s not like the existing heavy rail takes great advantage of "interchangeable yards." Most of the metro rail fleet is usually assigned to one line and its corresponding facilities. As for problems you're witnessed in New Jersey, I'll only reply that that state's rail design team is perhaps the most prone to poor judgment anywhere outside of Houston. Successful uses of signalized crossing pre-empts have been deployed in Portland, Sacramento, Dallas...and the list goes on. It’s unfortunate the systems you use haven't taken part in the fullest use of these technologies.

Your little take on the Chevy Chase C.C. situation continues in your trend of misconstructions of the facts. The folks at CCCC foolishly built their country club on both sides of a then functioning railroad. When CSX transferred the ROW to public ownership after it was abandoned for freight services, CCCC thought they would be entitled to the property. They were wrong. There won't be, as you state, the imposition of eminent domain, but rather the placing of rail and trail infrastructure on a publicly-owned right of way. Too bad for the golfers.

The one-transfer standard is utterly irrelevant to anyone aside from railfans. How many people in the metro region would even know or consider this fact when deciding how to travel? Preserving this obscure trivia factoid does not even come close to outweighing the benefits of the Purple Line.

The appeal of the Metro has been that it was a marvelous system in terms of design and function. Trains run frequently, quickly and more-or-less cheaply. None of that is decreased by adding the Purple Line. Now, in a utopian world, we could build both the outer (heavy rail) and inner (light rail) Purple lines, but pragmatism wins. The inner line is simply more affordable since it uses an existing right of way and doesn't incur the massive expense of heavy rail. Also, it better connects the bustling downtowns of Bethesda and Silver Spring and reduces travel times between the two legs of the Red Line. All these are the intended goals of such a line, and they would be achieved by the Inner Line.

You say "The Metro is one of the few systems in the country that people are unafraid to transfer trains on." HUH? You offer absolutely no warrants for that claim and I challenge you to produce any meaningful statistics to prove it beyond your own conjecture. I know you're dead wrong on this, only by the frequency transfers are made in Boston, NEW YORK (talk about transfers), Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, L.A. (ok, not so great), Toronto, and the list goes on.

As for your last rant about the profitability of transit, again the facts speak otherwise. One fact alone answers your claim: there is no passenger (read: not tourist) rail system ANYWHERE (in the world) since prior to the 1950s that makes dollar one. Point to one. All forms of passenger transportation require subsidy. It’s not an inherently money-making business. The public pays for highways, airports and the air travel industry, and ground transportation (bus and rail). The majority of the public, and community leaders have accepted this reality, and have demonstrated that acceptance though their voting for programs, policies and officials who/that implement transportation solutions.

Lastly, your view of bus transportation in the context of transit is nothing short of myopic. You term Boston's Silver Line BRT as a "bus line masquerading as transit." While I'm certainly no supporter of the Silver Line (which I won't articulate here), you are definitionally and attitudinally wrong with this view. First, bus systems are transit, by definition. Moreover, often they are the only feasible transportation option for the most communities in this nation. Where rail is an option, it needs to be supported and coordinated with a strong bus network. If you claim to be a rail advocate, it is simply irresponsible to segregate rail operations from the totality of transit and transportation networks. That is how rail began its spiral to near fatality in the 60's & 70's, by becoming irrelevant to the auto and air systems that had become the common mode of travel. The resurgence of rail has succeeded because those involved realize rail needs to be a fully integrated resource in communities; closely mirroring not only the transportation network (writ large), but also economic development efforts, employment and residential trends, the need for accessibility, and on a broader scale, a place in community and regional identity. Your view fails to consider this essential nature of rail. I sincerely hope that your perspective is never included in any efforts involving rail transportation. You effectively disregard all the substantive progress that so many have worked so passionately for over the last 35-40 years.

  by walt
The mere fact that the Purple Line may be built as a Light Rail Line rather than as a "Heavy Rail ( rapid transit) Line" will not be the determining factor in whether or not it is successful. If it is desired, it is as possible to build a completely grade separated Light Rail Line as it is to build a grade separated line as a "heavy rail "line. ( Note SEPTA's Route 100) Such things as ease of transfer can be built into a Light Rail Line as easily as a heavy rail line. Cross platform transferring, etc. can minimize the inconvenience of having to transfer from a heavy rail line to a light rail line. Plus, if the new line is not expected to carry the density of traffic that the current Metrorail system carries, it would be foolish to build a heavy rail line when a light rail line might be more than adequate.

One final note---- the Baltimore Central Light Rail Line has been eminently successful and it is rail lines in the light rail category that form the basis for the proposed Baltimore Rail System which, if it is ever built, will blanket that region with rail passenger service.
  by electricrollingmetro
I am new here but I had to post because there is a lot of misinformation and general disinterest in the railfan community about the "Purple Line".

1. The proposed Purple Line is an absolutely essential rail link. Those of you who are familiar with the geography of the Metro system understand this. Unlike what you see on the abstract Metro maps, the Red Line is shaped like a very narrow, pinched "U" -- like a shopping bag that has a baseball in it.

2. The proposed Purple Line would tie in DIRECTLY PARALLEL to the existing Silver Sping METRO station, where dozens of trains terminate every THREE MINUTES at rush hour.
Light rail trains -- trolleys, in effect -- would stop at a parallel station with NO in-system transfer.
Rush-hour headway would be TWELVE minutes.

3. The proposed line follows a narrow, heavily wooded rail-trail dating back to the Civil War. Extensive earthworks will be required to fit in the trail and avoid complete deforestation of the corridor--no matter what. Putting the trains UNDER the trail has already been proposed for one section of the line, sensibly.

You use Boston as an example -- well, this is something they did in Boston (Davis Square.)

4. The proposed "light" rail line which would dovetail precisely with the Silver Spring Metro will also be 100% SEPARATED GRADE (along the existing rail embankment with over-underpasses) throughout the initial segment. The proposed Chevy Chase Lake station (near the country club) would be an elevated station; Silver Spring West would be a surface station in a disused rail yard. Simply getting the train into Silver Spring will require a permanent single-track bottleneck using a disused 5th track on the 5-track viaduct over Colesville road which was supposed to be used by the rail-trail, which would have to be diverted entirely into the maw of a major 8-lane intersection with a huge grade differential (Silver Spring Station is elevated on a 5-track CSX embankment 2.5 stories above Colesville Road - 2 tracks WMATA, 2 tracks CSX/MARC and one disused - there is no room for additional tracks due to the MARC platform and adjacent hi-rises).

5. All of the proposed extensions to the line are 100% UNDERGROUND due to the terrain in Bethesda and Silver Spring. More likely they will simply be SCRAPPED if the line is built as a surface trolley.

The only "advantage" of building it as a trolley to begin with is if we assume there is NO NEED TO EXTEND IT since real estate lobbyists want it to basically be a shuttle service connecting downtown Bethesda to downtown Silver Spring.

All the NEW ridership is in poor, immigrant-heavy areas to the east, which are reachable by tunnel OR not at all!

You can imagine "not at all" is the preference of those who favor the bait-and-switch strategy of underfunding the initial segment by making it light rail.

Only advantage of grade-separated LRT is street-running and closeness of stops in urban areas, neither of which is possible here and has been ruled out where it IS possible. (The line would run UNDER the UM campus, for instance, and station spacing would be equal to that of Metro.)

Downgrading this line to light rail and (currently) to buses on surface streets is a scam that anyone familiar with the geography of the area can understand why it is a scam and who is to blame.

  by SemperFiSep11
Well...it has been a while since I was last on the site and returned to find my views on the Purple Line to be cited by someone a little too aggressive as uniformed, reactionary, and incorrect.

I don't see how, in any definition of the word "reactionary", my views could be considered as such.

What I want, and I do believe what we all want, is the best possible solution for the growing transportation crisis in this country and in DC. My views on the design of the Purple Line are simple statements of my beliefs. I have spent countless hours researching the line, volunteering my time, and writing my congressional and senatorial representatives to attempt to move the project forward.

I believe that the best possible path for the Purple Line to follow is a continuation of what has proven so successful. The heavy rail system that we have funded and built is one of the great attractions of our Capitol, and is something we can point to whenever rail trasit detractors begin thier tyraids.

Had I come out and said that the Purple Line is the worst idea ever and anyone who supports it is an idiot (and I have met no one who is), then I would be a reactionary. Had I said it was a needless waste of taxpayer money which could better be spent funding special interests, then I would be a reactionary. However, to cite me as a reactionary is closed minded and wrong.

I partially concede the highly misinterpreted point about a "fragmented system". Boston is a fine example of an integrated system. NJ Transit, however, is not. Ask anyone from Jersey. The point, which was clear to me but apparently not to some others, was that the "need" for light rail is politically motivated. Many people have made the point that heavy rail/metro style systems are cost prohibitive. This has lead to a trend of "compromise" systems such as River LINE light rail and, I believe, the Purple Line.

I know here in the lovely Garden State that the situations where we have light rail coexisting with heavy rail the light rail has been built where heavy rail could not have been (NCS, Hudson-Bergen Line). The outcast system (River LINE) was built on a right of way that should have been heavy rail (the passenger estimates and actual numbers justify that) and we are now paying the price for it. The Purple Line Corridor has the room for heavy rail (metro style) and the ridership numbers to justify, so why use an option with lower capacity?

The routing of the line and the need for it is not a debate in my mind, it is needed. I feel (and perhaps this is uninformed or reactionary in the most juvenile definitions of the words) that this needs to be built right. I feel that if we settle for a light rail line, then the system will no longer have the allure of being uniform and hence, less intimidating to the uninitiated. I believe the idea of building the Purple Line to light rail standards is better than nothing, no question about it. However, if it is built as light rail, it is a political concession based purely on the raw construction numbers. Light rail is cheaper to build than heavy rail they say. I do not know this to be true or false. I do know my view to be informed, however.

As for the new personnel, which there will be, ask your local teamsters union what they think about NOT having a new department or different personnel. Mark my words, there will be new operators and differing training. In the real world, where many railfans I know are absent, there are interests beyond our desire for effective trasit.

Grade crossings are avoided by railroad designers for a reason. They are not as safe or time effiecient as grade seperation. I cite the millions (perhaps billions) that have been spent to this end around the world. When I rode the TGV and the ICE I saw no grade crossings. Maybe they are not taking proper advantage of modern signalling either. Or maybe, just maybe, there are some people who (despite being reactionary and uninformed) know something beyond our scope of knowledge.

Too bad for the golfers indeed. We agree on something.

I agree the benefits of the Purple Line outweigh the one transfer "trivia factoid". However, if I am to be labled as uninformed, then perhaps you should read up a little before typing:

Railfans aside, the STB, various DOTs, CBO, and a myriad of other federal, state, and local agencies all cite in every cost-benefit analysis of any transit system to be built (all varieties of passenger rail, busses etc.) the number of transfers required to complete a trip. The ridership numbers drop sharply after 1 transfer. Ask your local congress-person to set you up a call with someone from your state's DOT or perhaps to send you a sample cost-benefit analysis. This will INFORM you of how this peice of trivia comes into play and then you will not have to be uninformed, like me.

The "unafraid" line (referring to the appeal of the system) has no meaningful statistic aside from the people I speak to about it. It doesn't warrant a study, so I can produce no statistic. The system is cleaner and safer than any other in the nation and that appeals to the commuters who use it every day and our foreign visitors who breifly sample it. Poeple from South Africa, Russia, and Hungary (just to name a few) have all at least breifly hit upon the fact in conversation that the system is much less intimidating than New York's or Chicago's. I suppose I cannot rise to your challenge of a battle of statistics...

As for the rail system's unprofitability I give you the Seattle Monorail here in our country, multiple Japanese heavy (metro style) lines, the Moscow Subway, all as examples of transit systems that operate at a profit. One can INFORM oneself at a very notable light rail internet site as to the first system. One can also INFORM oneself by asking any Japanese or former Soviet trainmen about the latter. They will proudly tell you. Thier success has added fuel to the fire of anti transit people in this country.

The Silver Line in Boston was a political attempt to mask the government's inability to find funding for a new rail transit line. The Arborway Project in Boston was causing a black eye at the time so the local politicians cooked up this "Silver Line" and attempted to integrate it into a very successful system of light and heavy rail hoping no one would notice. Check the Boston Globe back issues. Many, many, reactionary and uninformed rants to be found there. Also, check more recent (June of this year, if I recall) articles concerning the abysmal ridership on this line. People aren't fooled as easily by the smoke and mirrors of political compromise as our leaders hope.

As for my views on rail tranist: You will find no greater voice for more rail (of any kind) on the ground than I. However, rail systems should be designed not out of politcal expediency, but rather out of need. They should be desinged to service as many people as possible at the least expense and maximum utility to the public. They should be designed by people who know about railroads and transit, not by a congressperson drawing a line on a map. They should be desinged to be profitiable or as close to it as possible.

In the adult world, a difference of opinion can be debated without namecalling. I think the Purple Line should be heavy rail, you do not. It is that simple. We are both working towards the same goal along differing paths. Namecalling and juvenile accusations will only divide the effort. When the Purple Line is built, maybe we can have a more mature discussion as to how to reactivate the WB&A. Until then, for the benefit of those of you with limited maturity and temperment, I will read even more than I do, write more letters, and ask more questions in an effort to become informed. Of course, that will only happen after my pshrink medicates away my reactionary tendancies.

In short, lighten up. We're all on the same side here.
  by CTAA-Rail
First, a couple responses to electricrollingmetro:

On your #2, you say that light rail would have no in-system transfer. That’s patently incorrect. The line would be designed as a Metro light rail line, with all the benefits of the Metro fare system, operating hours, etc. The Silver Spring and Bethesda stations would be arranged in the same fashion as a current Metro transfer station.

On your #3, I don’t understand what you’re saying. Is it that the Georgetown Branch shouldn’t be used? If so, dozens of state and county planners disagree, including co-location with the trail.

On your #4, yes the Silver Spring issue will be a challenge. As for the trail route, that has been planned for existing sidewalks and improved pedestrian/bike access in downtown Silver Spring.

On your #4, indeed tunneled extensions are necessary to continue in both directions. That’s still better than the costs of the outer line. Light rail performs just as well as heavy rail underground and even somewhat more affordable. Tunnels are not the exclusive domain of heavy rail. You also say that it would be scrapped? HUH? Why would they build something to unbuild it (there would be severe funding pay-back consequences, if so).

And are you saying that just because potential ridership is “poor” and “immigrant heavy”, it shouldn’t be considered? That’s absurd. To me, that’s all the more reason to build it there…they’re the folks that need it most!!!!!! If you’re really saying that, you’re ridiculous.

Now, for SemperFiSep11’s more sensible post (relative to his initial post, and electricrollingmetro's):

Aggressive…indeed. I don’t apologize for a full-throated argument. I use the term reactionary in the context of opposition to pragmatism. I believe your arguments don’t seek to advance a realistic solution, but rather a utopian one. I don’t deny you’re a passionate supporter of rail, but I do think the manner in which you frame your advocacy is fairly short-sighted when you oppose most bus and light-rail options. As Gandhi said, the perfect is not the enemy of the good.

I think we need to make a clarification of the term “Purple Line.” I concede that either the light rail (inner) and heavy rail (outer) options could be termed the Purple Line if constructed. In an ideal world, we could build both and we wouldn’t need to have this discussion. However, from all accounts, there is neither the funding nor the political will available to do both. Thus, we must make a decision. It is not at all prudent to construct a heavy rail Purple Line in to Silver Spring-Bethesda Georgetown Branch right of way, for reasons of cost, community disruption and sheer physics. Check the studies if you’re uncertain. So, what we’re really talking about is whether we should build the inner or outer Purple Line.

You do not present a compelling case why light rail (inner) could not be presented in such a way to be part of the Metro system (which I believe we both acknowledge is a great system). If it is presented as the Purple Line, with the same fare system, operating hours, etc as the heavy rail lines, I don’t see how that isn’t consistent with the positive aspects of Metro or have the same potential for success.

I’m not sure how I feel on the River Line yet, but you don’t present any reasons why the Purple Line would duplicate the errors of that line other than light rail is bad. The Purple Line would have exclusive use of the rails (which the River Line does not), be significantly more double tracked and, most importantly, serve a far higher population and travel density corridor than the River Line. Yes, the inner/light rail Purple Line would be a compromise over building both or even building only the outer line. See pragmatism above.

The opinion of the teamsters on this would be irrelevant, since the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) would be the pertinent labor organization. Yes, of course there would be new operators and different training. You need not mark your words. I fail to see how labor would be upset by the prospects for expanded jobs. Additionally, they would likely be even more approving of a different arm of the maintenance department since consolidations could be made less easily.

I agree that grade separation is preferable. Again, check the designs for the inner/light rail option. Separation is possible (even 100% separation for the inner line is tens of millions cheaper than the outer line). Even if its not, I’d still prefer the one or two the inner line would have over nothing. Your European high-speed rail examples are irrelevant to urban transit service.

Again, I agree that reducing transfers is good. I don’t deny transportation officials try to accomplish that whenever possible. This isn’t inherently more the case for the inner/light rail model than the outer/heavy rail version, unless you’re talking about routing the outer line onto the Red Line to create a loop. If that’s the case, we’re no longer talking about a Purple Line (a loop ultimately connecting all the spokes of the current lines), but rather a Red Line Loop. Also, think about the true usability of the one-transfer advantage. I present you this hypothetical trip on the current system: Start at Franconia-Springfield on the Blue Line. Say you needed to go anywhere south of L’Enfant Plaza on the Green Line. How would you get there? I would take the Blue Line to some point between King Street and Pentagon, transfer to the Yellow, and then transfer to the Green at L’Enfant. That’s two transfers. That would be significantly shorter than staying on the Blue Line through Arlington, Roslyn, and Metro Center until L’Enfant. My point is the one-transfer benefit is not 100% in the status quo. The deterrent effect caused by multiple transfers to the inner/light rail Purple Line would be a negligible effect on ridership, at best.

I agree that visitors think the Metro is unintimidating and that appeals to local riders and visitors alike. That wouldn’t change with either Purple Line option. Light rail, as part of Metro as I describe above, would be no more unsafe, unclean or confusing than any current line.

I defined profitability in terms of transit systems, not tourist/novelty operations. The Seattle Monorail would certainly fall under the later category. The future monorail is not projected to make profit, as it will operate as regular transit. I would very much like to see official stats on the profitability of the Moscow and Japanese heavy rail systems, as I don’t have very good access to train personnel of Japan or Moscow.

It is indeed, unfortunate, that officials in Boston weren’t able to line-up adequate funding. I agreed in my original post that the Silver Line was none too good. That’s, again, not a reason why light rail in a Metro format would fail.

In terms of general theory, as I described above, it seems as if you only argue for heavy rail systems. I disagree. Heavy rail systems are great. There should be more. But they’re expensive and invasive. That’s why they need to be implemented for the highest density routes and mixed with other, more adaptable and feasible options. I think light rail and bus route achieve that when designed appropriately. You, apparently, do not. Profitability for mass transit is an illusion. And I’ve very infrequently seen congresspersons being involved to the extent of drawing lines on maps. Except for CA State Senator Jim Mills, father of the San Diego Trolley, and Earl Blumenauer in Portland with Tri-Met and the Streetcar. And the WB&A was a branch of the former B&O Baltimore-Washington line south to Annapolis. It had no relationship with Silver Spring and Bethesda. But I am perpetually curious about prospects to restore rail service to Annapolis. Sadly, though, that doesn’t seem very likely.

I engaged in no name-calling, but rather characterizations of your arguments. I think you’re already divided the effort by resisting any options that aren’t heavy rail. I explain why I think that vision of rail advocacy is myopic and is what got the rail industry into trouble in the first place (failing to consider the role and importance of other modes). Rail needs to be responsive, adaptable, intermodial, and most importantly, reasonable to survive.
  by skm
(I'm apologizing in advance if this topic is placed in the wrong forum.)

In Sunday's Post (6/29/08), there was an informative overview on the Purple Line. I didn't realize until the very end of the article that line isn't part of the Metro. I was surprised to read that the proposed line would operate at street level crossing Marc and Metro stations. Is this similar to the proposed (?) SVM in the Philly area? Is this project needed? The article listed pro's and con's. Any thoughts?
  by realtype
The Purple Line will be Light Rail (or BRT, which is unlikely), instead of Heavy Rail like Metro, and has nothing to do with the WMATA. The project is definitely needed. The ridership projections alone (higher than the Silver Line), taken months before the insane gas prices, warrant its construction. The project should have no problems gaining state and federal funding. The biggest obstacles to the project are currently the NIMBY's (Not In MY Back Yard) and the Columbia Country Club.
  by octr202
Who is proposed to build/operate this line if not WMATA? (I'll admit that I haven't been following this news, but would they not be the operator?)
  by skm
According to the article, the Purple line would not be a "Metro Line, but would be intergrated with Metrorail." The source of the information is the Maryland Transit Admin. The article doesn't specifically name an operator. I'm not sure of the distinction between Metro and Metrorail.
  by realtype
The Maryland MTA, which is overseeing the project, would definitely be able to operate the line, especially since they have experience with the Baltimore Light Rail. The Purple Line is entirely located within Maryland, would not use Metro tracks, and would be a totally different system (light vs heavy rail). While the WMATA may be asked to operate the system, I definitely wouldn't consider it to be likely. The Silver Line in VA was only recently (last year) put under the jurisdiction of the WMATA, and that line will use the same type of equipment as Metro, use Metro tracks/stations, and actually enters DC. Also, note that the Silver Line temporarily lost Federal funding this past spring, because it was to be operated by the WMATA.

Just because it has a 'color' name doesn't mean its automatically associated with Metro. The Purple Line was actually originally called the "Bi-County Transitway," until the current name became the official title, because it was used by most non-officials.

BTW Metrorail is the 'rail' division of Metro (which also includes Metrobus).
  by Sand Box John
I didn't realize until the very end of the article that line isn't part of the Metro.

The metrorail option was eliminated very early on in the study process. (2001-2002)

The Purple Line will be Light Rail (or BRT, which is unlikelly), instead of Heavy Rail like Metro, and has nothing to do with the WMATA. The project is definitely needed. The ridership projections alone (higher than the Silver Line), taken months before the insane gas prices, warrant its construction.

WMATA has been one of the sponsoring agencies of the Purple line sense the idea of building a fixed guideway cross county transit line was first proposed in 1999 in the Capital Beltway Corridor Transportation Study.

WMATA's own Transit Service Expansion Plan dated 04 1999 had the Purple line in it.

The Capital Beltway Corridor Transportation Study projected 40,100 boardings. The present Bi-County Transitway study is projecting 59,300 to 68,100. The projected boardings from the DEIS for the Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit Project were 71,900 first year 86,900 by 2025. Projected boardings in the FEIS of the Dulles Corridor metrorail Project are 62,800 (phase I) to Wiehle Avenue and 91,200 Ashburn (both phase I and phase II) by 2025.

Who is proposed to build/operate this line if not WMATA? (I'll admit that I haven't been following this news, but would they not be the operator?)

The Maryland MTA, which is overseeing the project, would definitely be able to operate the line, especially since they have experience with the Baltimore Light Rail. The Purple Line is entirely located within Maryland, would not use Metro tracks, and would be a totally different system (light vs heavy rail). While the WMATA
may be asked to operate the system, I definitely wouldn't consider it to be likely. The Silver Line in VA was only recently (last year) put under the jurisdiction of the WMATA, and that line will use the same type of equipment as Metro, use Metro tracks/stations, and actually enters DC. Also, note that the Silver Line temporarily lost Federal funding this past spring, because it was to be operated by the WMATA.

The Maryland Transit Administration is the state sponsoring agency. Just like they were the state sponsoring agency for the G Route Blue line extension to Largo. WMATA will be the operating agency of the rail transit line because it will be built within the territory of the jurisdiction of the WMATA compact. WMATA may or may not be given the responsibility of do the final engineering, design and contract awarding. It more likely that the Maryland Transit Administration will draw up a set of specification and award a design build contract.

All of the proposed light rail lines in DC will be operated by WMATA. The propose Columbia Pike light rail line will be operated by WMATA.

The Silver line was always planed to be operated by WMATA. WMATA has never been in the picture as far as planing, engineering, designing and awarding of construction contracts on this project. The Silver line is a product of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. It is being built under the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act. The consortium of the Bechtel Corporation and the Washington Group (Dulles Transit Partners) was awarded the contract to design and build the line, stations and support facilities on the Silver Line. WMATA provided Dulles Transit Partners the basic design specification need to design the route.

WMATA is in no position to do any kind of engineering, design or construction contracting work on the scale of the Silver line. WMATA reduced their engineering staff in budget cuts back in the late 1990s. WMATA is not unfamiliar with the concept of design build construction contracting. The last segment of the 103 mile system (Congress Heights to Branch Avenue) was built under a design build construction contract. The G Route Blue line extension to Largo was a design build construction contract.

The issue concerning federal funding for the Silver line was not lost because WMATA was to operate the line, The issue was about the it's escalating costs. Sense the time WMATA approve the Local Preferred Alternative costs have gone up nearly a third. A side issue the Federal Transit Administration had with WMATA was the agencies inability to fund the maintain it's existing facilities.

Just because it has a 'color' name doesn't mean its automatically associated with Metro. The Purple Line was actually originally called the "Bi-County Transitway," until the current name became the official title, because it was used by most non-officials.

The Purple Lines origin can be traced back to the Capital Beltway Corridor Transportation Study mentioned above. The name "Purple line" was first coined by former County Executive of Montgomery County Douglas M. Duncan back in the late 1990s when he proposed building a light rail line between Bethesda and Silver Spring.

BTW Metrorail is the 'rail' division of Metro (which also includes Metrobus).

Technically speaking, Metrorail is the rail division of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority just as Metrobus is the bus division of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
  by walt
The Maryland Transit Administration ( formerly The Mass Transit Administration) is a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation. It began as the local transit operator in the Baltimore Region ( as the Baltimore counterpart to WMATA), but has always had the authority to provide transit services anywhere in the State of Maryland. In practice, it confines its actual operation of transit lines to Baltimore, operating both the Central Light Rail Line and the Baltimore Bus system. It provides a number of commuter bus services from Maryland counties outside the immediate Baltimore region ( Columbia- DC, Columbia- Baltimore and similar services north of Baltimore) but contracts with several private (tour) bus companies to operate these services. Under this scenareo, it is most likely that WMATA would ultimately operate the Purple Line-- if funding issues can be worked out.
  by realtype
MARC commuter rail is also part of the MTA, and operates throughout MD, WV, and DC under contract with CSX and Amtrak.
  by Sand Box John
Besides running the public trains properties in the region around Baltimore The Maryland Transit Administration is the funding conduit from state government for capital and operating subsidies for all of the public transit properties in the State of Maryland. That includes WMATA.
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