From The Washington Post
Metro officials are considering increasing the frequency of rush-hour service to Shady Grove by January 2019, in response to calls from Montgomery County officials who have urged the transit agency to end the practice known as “Red Line turn-backs.”
In documents released in advance of Thursday’s Metro board meeting, agency officials said they will seek input from the public on whether to add trains to the system so they can provide more peak-period service from Grosvenor-Strathmore to Shady Grove station.
As it stands now, Metro employs a practice on the Red Line known as “turn-backs”: During peak periods, every other outbound train on the line reverses direction at Grosvenor-Strathmore and Silver Spring stations, part of an effort to increase the frequency of service in the downtown core, at the cost of increased wait times for people boarding or alighting at the furthest-out stations.
Currently, the two ends of the Red Line — from Grosvenor-Strathmore to Shady Grove, and from Silver Spring to Glenmont stations — are serviced by one train every eight minutes during weekday peak periods, which extend from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Toward the center of the Red Line, trains in either direction arrive very 4 minutes.
In one option presented by Metro, full service could be restored to the western end of the Red Line, with 15 trains per hour running to Shady Grove. Under this schedule, Shady Grove, Rockville, Twinbrook, and White Flint stations would experience 4-minute rush hour headways between trains.
In an alternate scenario, Metro could partially increase the number of trains that travel to Shady Grove station during peak periods — about 12 trains per hour — so that the wait time between trains would be reduced to an average of 5 minutes, though individual headways would vary. The documents also offer a third scenario, which would keep the Red Line train scheduled unchanged.
“It’s clearly stated that the Grosvenor turn-backs were supposed to end in the beginning of the 2019 fiscal year” that starts in July, Goldman said. “And frankly, the so-called alternatives presented by the staff are frustrating. The board resolution very clearly states that all peak-period rush hours trains are supposed to travel to Shady Grove.”
Metro officials said they are still working to determine a cost estimate for increasing the frequency of service to Shady Grove, but Goldman said he has seen estimates putting the price at around $2.5 million annually. If Metro decided to partially eliminate the turn-backs, providing 12 trains per hour between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Shady Grove, that would cost $1.75 million, he said.