Metrorail Station Access & Capacity Study
Thirty years after service first began on the Washington Metrorail, the system has become an integral and important part of the region’s transportation network. Metrorail ridership has increased over the years as the system expanded and the region developed. Ridership continues to increase as development occurs throughout the region, particularly near stations. Continued growth in ridership requires expansion of station facilities to handle passenger flow within the station, as well as expansion of facilities to support auto, bus, and pedestrian access to stations.
In order to meet growing demand and maximize capacity of the system, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) initiated the Station Access and Capacity Study, a systemwide look at future passenger demand and available capacity. The purpose of the study was to identify and prioritize the needs of the existing 86 stations and identify stations where more detailed analysis is needed. The study addressed three basic questions:
- How will ridership grow over the next 25 years?
- Is there sufficient capacity to handle the growth?
- How will customers access the system?
The Station Access and Capacity Study built upon the efforts of two previous studies. The Transit Service Expansion Plan in 1999 called for maintaining transit shares in existing markets, creating new markets through focused development near stations, and expanding the reach of rail throughout the region, the combination of which would result in doubling transit ridership—bus and rail—by 2025. The 2002 Core Capacity Study focused on capacity deficiencies at the core stations in the Metrorail system based on the ridership growth and full system expansion envisioned in the 1999 plan.
Instead of assuming major system expansion like the studies above, this study focused on the planned Metrorail system improvements contained in the region’s fiscally Constrained Long Range Plan (CLRP) and addressed the needed improvements to system capacity and station access throughout the entire Metrorail system to support the ridership growth. It also identified stations where further detailed studies are needed.
The Washington, DC region is growing. Between 2000 and 2030, regional employment and households are each expected to increase by nearly 50 percent. The study found that ridership growth will continue into the future, placing demands on system and station capacity. Ridership increases are expected to be primarily driven by system expansion—the Dulles Corridor Metrorail extension—and regional growth.