Sand Box John wrote:"afiggatt"
Came across this favorable column on the Purple Line by the Railway Age managing editor: Purple Line LRT: Suburban harbinger. I don't personally see the Purple Line as national transit game changer, but it will be a significant expansion of the reach of the DC Metro transit system.
I am going to go out on a limb and predict that the Purple line will end up being suburban Washington's version of Baltimore's White Snail, as it will not reduce trip times between points along the corridor for both transit and non transit users.
The Purple Line isn't just about trip times (and seeing how bad the traffic on the Beltway and East-West highway is in rush hour now, I doubt that it wouldn't improve trip times 5-6 years from now) but, more importantly, connectivity. I've taken the Red Line from Shady Grove to SIlver Spring and Fort Totten hundreds of times and have hated the fact that I had to go all the way down through DC to make my trip (I'm also convinced that the Medical Center-Farragut North stretch is the most boring in the entire system). Being able to switch to the Purple Line at Bethesda to get to SS would have been a tremendous
help. The fact that it connects to 4 Metro Branches, 3 MARC lines, and Amtrak really makes it a no-brainer. When the line is complete New Carrollton will be one of the very, very few stations in the nation with access to light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, and intercity rail.
This is where Baltimore's transit system fails. The lack of a true connection station between the current light rail and metro-subway lines (and the fact that the light rail line sidesteps Towson) really hurts its potential. The new Red Line will do a lot to improve the system by connecting to MARC's Penn Line at two points, as well as having a direct connection to the current light rail line. Even more importantly it will provide a critical east-west connection linking employment centers like the Medicaid/SS complexes , UMD Baltimore, and John Hopkins' Bayview campus as well as booming city neighborhoods such as Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton, and the Inner Harbor. In addition to its own ridership the new line will undoubtedly boost ridership on the existing lines.
In my opinion there's an appropriate time and place for every surface method of transportation: highways, expressways, BRT, streetcars, light rail, heavy rail/RT, commuter rail, and intercity rail. Light Rail suits the Purple Line perfectly as opposed to BRT which probably couldn't handle the capacity and would discourage potential riders, or Metro/RT which would be extremely expensive and probably not cost effective. As the article states, the Purple Line corridor is located in densely populated with suburbs built out decades ago, requiring nearly the entire alignment of a Metro line to be underground. Conversely there was plenty of space to build the Silver Line, the vast majority of which is in a highway median with the remainder mostly elevated. On top of that the MWAA had a guaranteed source of funding: toll road tolls. The state's contribution was pretty much a drop in the bucket.