Metro Board Approves Plan To Eliminate Turnarounds at Grosvenor-Strathmore Station
The system intends to increase train frequency to Shady Grove in December
The Shady Grove Metro station
BEN SCHUMIN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Metro officials acted Thursday to abolish train turnarounds at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station and increase service to the Shady Grove station beginning in December.
Sending more trains past the station in North Bethesda will carry an annual cost of about $2.5 million, but the payoff is halving the rush hour wait times for riders at the Red Line’s terminus.
Montgomery County leaders have pushed Metro’s board of directors and its general manager to do away with the turnaround policy that has existed since the line was extended to Shady Grove in 1984.
“This is a big win for Montgomery County transportation," County Council President Hans Riemer said in a prepared statement. "The turnback negatively affects our residents by severely diminishing service to the White Flint, Twinbrook, Rockville and Shady Grove stations."
Currently, about half of trains on the Red Line reverse course once they hit the Grosvenor-Strathmore station and head south into D.C. during morning and evening rush hours. So while trains arrive every four minutes at stations between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Silver Spring, they only pull up to the platform every eight minutes at the outer stations.
With the changes approved Thursday by Metro’s board of directors, service to the Shady Grove, Rockville, Twinbrook and White Flint stations will increase to 15 trains per hour.
Metro’s board members voted in 2015 to end the turnbacks by July 1, saying they couldn’t immediately get rid of the reversals because they didn’t have enough railcars to go around. Metro has since rolled out its new 7000 series railcars, which officials said would address the issue.
However, Metro officials did not initially budget funding for expanded service this year, sparking concern from county officials.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld in February assured county leaders that the transit system would study ending the turnarounds. A springtime survey circulated by Metro asked Red Line riders to choose between three options: Eliminating the turnbacks, partially eliminating them or keeping them. Sixty percent of the roughly 9,660 respondents supported full elimination.
Three alternatives presented to Red Line riders. Via Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
Metro will have to hire more employees and add supervisory staff to manage the increased service to the Shady Grove station, according to a board report. The transit system is also looking at capital upgrades, such as improving the Shady Grove track configuration around the terminal and access improvements at the station. The analysis is scheduled for completion by mid-2019.
An equity analysis found that the elimination of turnarounds would not have a disparate effect on minorities but would be less beneficial to low-income riders than others. To offset this disparity, Metro has proposed increasing Red Line service between the Glenmont and Silver Spring stations between 7 and 8 p.m.
Bethany Rodgers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.