Metro may be moving forward with plans to open up its new 7000-series trains to passengers on April 14, but it’s reportedly scaling back its plans to exclusively use eight-car trains during rush hour by 2020.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan have been pressuring WMATA to improve its equipment and financial management practices before pushing ahead with expansion, WAMU report. That heat has been be felt among Metro’s leadership, resulting in a scaled-back goal of using eight-car trains for 55 percent of its rush hour trains.
The good news is that the new plans would see the Blue Line and Orange Line each only use eight-car trains during peak periods, and the system overall would see more capacity as a result, since about 35 percent of rush hour trains currently use eight cars.
The Red Line, meanwhile, would be stuck with about 50 percent of its trains running with eight cars.
Given that Metro expects to see demand for 84,000 new daily trips on weekdays by 2020, expanding capacity will likely be crucial. Nevertheless, the system has been contending in recent years with falling numbers among existing riders, as well as safety and corruption issues that have raised doubts about accountability in the organization.
Given these facts, local leadership is right to prioritize changes from the top down. But a balance will have to be struck in funding improvements and responsibly following through with necessary capital improvement initiatives.