ThirdRail7 wrote:All this time, I thought the proposed line was a metro addition. I just realized it was a light rail project. Silly me!
The fight back during the Ehrlich administration, as I recall it, was between light rail and BRT, with the Ehrlich crowd widely suspected of intending to further incrementally trim the line to a sort of BRT to just a bus line. The chosen alternative is discussed as "medium" level light rail, but I consider it to be towards the higher end of the LRT "spectrum" (from stuck in the street to fully separate ROW). The Purple Line will run mostly in a dedicated ROW with some elevated track and one tunnel, with a fair level of grade separation, except at a few intersections. It wil be entirely grade seperated between Silver Spring and Bethesda which will result in a quick trip time between the two stops.
For the route the line takes, light rail is appropriate. It won't be carrying huge peak rush hour crowds to the city business core. It will instead be taking students to/from UMD, people who live close to the stations to connect to the Metro, other stops on the line for work, shop, play. The traffic patterns on the Purple Line could be less peaky than the Metro and more evenly distributed across the weekday and weekends. Students heading to UMD for classes, lab work, and parties are not going to be stuck in the 8 to 5 weekday job commuter pattern.
One of the most interesting features of the Purple Line is that it will connect to the DC Metro at no less than at 4 locations, all providing lines leading into the city core. Will really extend the coverage of and routes through the DC Metro system with a bunch of new places people can get to entirely on rail transit. Easy to come up with ideas for extensions to the Purple Line and other light rail lines around the periphery of the DC Metro system that provide rail transit connections to a bunch of places in MD and ("inner") northern VA.
The Purple Line website
has lots of material for those interested in checking out the latest public presentations, maps. etc.