Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Washington Metro is the public transportation system of Washington, D.C., and neighboring regions in Maryland and Virginia, both inside and outside the Beltway. It is owned and operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), a multijurisdictional agency funded by the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.
Since opening in 1976, the subway has grown to five lines. It was designed with a spoke-hub distribution paradigm, which makes the subway ideal for getting from a suburb to any part of the city, or vice versa, but unattractive for suburb-to-suburb travel. It is also noteworthy as a system with a limited number of lines that nevertheless makes extensive use of interlining (running more than one line on the same track).
There are five lines:
- Red Line - From Montgomery County, Maryland, through downtown Washington, and back out into Montgomery County.
- Orange Line - From Fairfax County, Virginia into Arlington County, Virginia, through central Washington, and out into Prince George's County, Maryland.
- Blue Line - From Fairfax County, through Alexandria, Virginia and Arlington, following the Orange Line through Washington, and out into Prince George's County.
- Yellow Line - The same as the Blue Line, except at The Pentagon, it crosses the Potomac River and ends in downtown Washington.
- Green Line - From Prince George's County through eastern Washington and back out into Prince George's County.
During the 1960s, there were plans for a massive freeway system in Washington. However, opposition to this freeway system grew and the funds to construct it were reallocated toward construction of the Metro system.
Construction on the subway began in 1969, with groundbreaking on December 9. The system opened March 27, 1976 with 4.2 miles available on the Red Line with five stations from Rhode Island Ave to Farragut North. The final 103-mile, 83 station system was completed with the opening of the Green Line segment to Branch Ave on January 13, 2001. This does not mean the end of the growth of the system, however: a 3.22-mile extension of the Blue Line to Largo Town Center and Morgan Boulevard stations opened on December 18, 2004, the first in-fill station (New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U on the Red Line between Union Station and Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood) opened November 20, 2004, and plans are being discussed for an Orange Line extention to Dulles Airport. There is also consistent talk of a possible Georgetown stop; however, nothing has come of this up to this point.
The system began in the District of Columbia, with Arlington, Virginia being linked to the system on July 1, 1976; Montgomery County, Maryland on February 6, 1978; Prince George's County, Maryland on November 20, 1978; and Fairfax County, Virginia and Alexandria, Virginia on December 17, 1983.
The highest ridership for a day was June 9, 2004, with 850,636 trips. Thousands of people went to Washington to view the funeral procession of Ronald Reagan, and to the U.S. Capitol to view his body as it lay in state. Also, since many streets in Washington were closed that day, many people may have felt it wiser to use Metro just to get around. The previous recordholding days were January 20, 1993 (the inauguration of Bill Clinton) and October 16, 1995 (the Million Man March).
In 2002, plans were formalized to bring a 23-mile extension to the Orange Line from the West Falls Church station to Route 772 in Loudoun County. This would mean a mass transit connection from Washington proper to the important business centers of Reston and Tysons Corner, and most importantly, provide a link to Dulles Airport. On June 10, 2004, the Federal Transit Administration approved the first phase of the project to begin. See DCRTP.
There have been only three collisions reported on the Metrorail system since its opening. On January 13, 1982, 3 persons were killed and many more were injured when a train backed up and derailed at an interlocking near the Smithsonian Station. Coincidentally, this accident occurred on the same day as Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge during a snowstorm. On January 5, 1996, a train operator was killed when a train overran the Shady Grove Station and crashed into a parked train. On November 3, 2004, an out-of-service train lost its brakes, rolled backwards into the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Station, and hit a revenue train servicing the station. No one was killed, but 20 persons were injured.
The system is not immune from fire or passenger suicide. The most recent accident occurred on February 5, 2005, when a woman jumped in front of a Red Line train at Brookland-CUA and was killed instantly, closing the station for a few hours.
A number of people have attempted suicide on the Metro system. One instance was 18-year-old Victor Zoubak, who lay on the trackbed of the Orange Line in Metro Center in 2004 until a train came, which struck and killed him. According to Zoubak's sister, the young man would lose consciousness and would be dazed and disoriented when he returned to his normal state of mind. Officials later determined that he did not know what he was doing at the time. There have been other deaths in Union Station and Brookland.
In December 2001 Metro initiated a relationship with Flexcar, a private company which operates car sharing networks in several North American cities. A competitor, ZipCar, began service in the region contemporaneously. With either service, cars are parked at major Metrorail stations and made available for rental on an hourly basis, with the goal of reducing car dependency and increasing transit ridership.
Metrorail connects with both commuter rail and intercity rail systems.
- Connections to Amtrak are offered at Union Station in Washington, at New Carrollton Station in Prince George's County, at Rockville in Montgomery County, and at King Street Station in Alexandria.
- Virginia Railway Express trains terminate at Union Station in Washington. They also share stations with Metro at L'Enfant Plaza, Crystal City, King Street, and Franconia-Springfield.
- All three lines of Maryland's MARC train system begin at Union Station in Washington; service is also provided to New Carrollton, College Park - University of Maryland and Greenbelt stations in Prince George's County; and Silver Spring and Rockville stations in Montgomery County.
Metrorail's Yellow and Blue Lines serve Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Express bus service from L'Enfant Plaza and Rosslyn is provided to Washington Dulles International Airport. Baltimore-Washington International Airport is served by express bus from Greenbelt, and by rail from Union Station by MARC and Amtrak.
Additionally, several Metrorail stations offer connections to HomeRide , a bus service which connects Virginia Tech, Radford, JMU, and the University of Virginia to the northern Virginia area. Many students at these schools are originally from the northern Virginia area, and especially for freshmen and other students without cars, HomeRide offers an attractive method for getting home on weekends.
The original ARS (Adopted Regional System) was completed in 2001, even though it was scheduled to open in 1990. Since then, the WMATA had made plans of expanding their system. In 2000, plans were made to create a fill-in station, New York Avenue, which opened in November 2004. Plans were also made to create an blue line extension, creating two more stations, Morgan Boulevard (also known as Summerfield) and Largo Town Center, known to residents simply as Largo, which opened on December 18, 2004. WMATA has also recently again begun seriously considering an extension of the Orange Line to Dulles International Airport, which may have to be funded through a moderate rate hike on all lines.
Rumors have abounded for years about transit service out to Dulles and points west either by Metro or other systems. There was even a study in the early 1990s that proposed a series of civil tiltrotor stations as a possible commuting option from places such as Reston, Manassas, Leesburg, Columbia, and other points in the greater Washington area. Like many other plans, this stopped at the initial assessment stage for fiscal and political reasons. Light rail systems and express bus lines have also been floated as a possibility within the District or Northern Virginia. Plans to extend Metrorail to Dulles have been in the works since the beginning of the service's construction. A test station was built at the airport around 1970, and was located some 28 feet below the parking lot area , but rail service along the Dulles Corridor is not yet a reality .
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