Envisioning Metro: An Enduring Design with Transformational Impacts

Envisioning Metro: An Enduring Design with Transformational Impacts


[ Music ]>>So title of the talk — so
basically, looking at how — the design of Metro, how the
architecture was inspired back in the ’60s. I will focus some on
Montgomery County, specifically, because we’re here
in Montgomery County. And then I’ll spend a few
minutes at the end talking about Metro today, some of
the challenges we’ve faced, from shutdowns to Safe
Track, so everything that our new general manager
is trying to focus on. And then also, some of
the funding challenges that we have faced, really
for 40 years, and how I see that playing out in
the next couple years. So, going back to 1960, was when The National Capital
Transit Agency was established. So this was primarily a
federal agency that reported to Congress, and by 1965, the
Agency had proposed a 25-mile, 25-station system that
was primarily focused just within D.C. Now,
back at that time, they’d also envisioned
extensions, having come all the way out
to Germantown, out to Dulles, and onto Leesburg,
and other areas. But this — that was the
proposal back in 1965. And they started working on hiring engineers,
hiring architects. Now, back in this
day — back in the — back then, major
public works projects, such as transit systems,
the model was that you would hire an
engineer — engineering firm, and that firm would
subcontract the work to an architectural firm,
to kind of make it — make everything look
pretty at the end. One of the major differences
with how Metro was designed from the outset was that
they awarded two contracts, one to an engineering firm,
one to an architectural firm. And those firms were considered
equals in the design of Metro. So it really put
the architecture at a much higher level when
it came to designing Metro. Back in 1966, President
Johnson wrote to the NCTA, encouraging the NCTA to search
worldwide for concepts and ideas that could be used to make
this system attractive, as well as useful. “It should be designed so as to
set an example for the nation, and to take its place among the
most attractive in the world. In selecting architects for
this system, you must seek those who can best combine utility
with good urban design.” So that was in February. The next month, NCTA awarded
the contract to Harry Weese, and his — Harry
Weese & Associates. His firm had a lot
of experience. It was more of a midwest firm. One thing that differentiated
them was that they had built
a lot of prototypes, and that was something that they
saw was beneficial here in D.C., to help build some prototypes. They actually built a prototype of a part — section
of a station. They built a prototype of what
a railcar would look like. That railcar prototype ended
up on the White House lawn, and that was kind of part of how they helped sell the
whole region on this concept of a brand-new transit system. And then, right after they
were hired, Harry Weese and his associates actually
embarked on a 42-day, 18-city trip to Europe,
where they explored and studied human
transportation, and the interaction between
people and the cities in Europe, to see what works, what doesn’t
work, and what would they want to bring back as they
helped design this system. So I was able to find a
couple sketches that they — you know, from their notepads
— sketchpads, back from 1966. So this was their sketch
of London, back in the day. This was the sketch
of — in Paris. And note here that, you
know, Paris was called Metro, and metro — a couple years
later, after they came back, no one knew exactly what to
call D.C.’s Metro system. And the concept that
an international, world-class system —
the term metro had sort of caught on around the world. So other systems that were
kind of contemporary — in San Francisco, they had
BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, and other names for systems. But we were sort of
the first one here to just have the simple name
of Metro, and of course, Paris was one of the
inspirations for that. Here’s another sketch,
Stockholm. And I chose to put this one in
because, if you look closely, sort of at the end of the platform there,
you’ll see bare rock. So kind of different, and I
did a quick Google search, and Stockholm still has some of this bare rock
exposed in their system. Other pictures — you can see
that they’ve kind of prettied it up with some artistic
paint, and things like that. But anyway, one of Harry
Weese’s concepts for Metro was to actually have bare rock
exposed in the system. It’s one of the concepts that
he took to the Commission on Fine Arts, and they
summarily vetoed that concept. So — I think to the
benefit of our system. But anyway, that was one of
his inspirations that came back and didn’t make it into
the final plans for Metro. Soon after that summer of
1966, they started sketching out what would the system look
like, and where would some of the focal points
be within the system. And you’ll see that some of
these focal points are still — some are focal points. L’Enfant Plaza is a
major transfer station. Gallery Place, The Portrait
Gallery, as a transfer station, Metro Center as a
transfer station — so some of these concepts from 1966 definitely influenced
the final design of what we had. And they actually had a
more refined map, also. Kind of gets you to — closer
to what the system looked like, and then you see that they also
had the station manager kiosk, and then the — you know, the concept rendering
shows their initial map on the front of that kiosk. Also, that summer,
they did a first sketch of what the station —
of how it would look. So Harry Weese had a
couple different concepts for how the station tunnels
and platforms would look. His concept for the subway
part of the system were about half-aerial
— half, you know — the system is about half subway, and then the other half is
either at grade or aerial. So his concept for the subway
portion of the system was to have this vaulted
look to the system. Actually, his concept for
other parts of the system, where we were — it’s
called cut-and-cover, so where we’re basically
just below the surface. Basically, there, we
have to build a box, and then you just cover the
— cover it back up with dirt. His concept there was that
you should maximize the amount of space for the customers. So he wanted to have a flat roof
on those parts of the system. Eventually, the concept of a
— the coffered vault won out, and that was the system — the concept that was used
throughout the system, whether it’s really far below
grade, or even right at — you know, near the surface. So then, after a couple
years, this, you know, very sketch rendering became
this sketch rendering. And this, of course, is the
system that we know today, and really, this is
what it looks like. It’s amazing how this
sketch influenced and became the ultimate design. Obviously, this is one of our
transfer stations downtown. Another thing I noticed was
that Harry Weese felt that, as you emerge out of the
system, you need to be — you know, have a
grand experience, as you emerge out of the system. And my commute is
basically a Shady Road to Judiciary Square
commute, so most mornings, I emerge out of Judiciary Square
looking at The Building Museum. So when I saw the picture
of Paris, I was like, wow, that looks a lot like our
Judiciary Square station, and how it appears as you
emerge out of that station. He also had a concept
that you should — that the areas where Metro — where the entrances to Metro
is should be active areas. Oops. So one of his ideas
also was to have a station at Farragut, and the
concept was to have Farragut as a transfer station, and that
people would be in the park, coming out of the Metro
system, engaged and active in the Farragut Square,
in the park down there. One of the challenges that
Harry Weese felt back then, one of the challenges that
we continue to face at Metro, is actually working with
the National Parks Service. And they determined that, no, you should not be
emerging out of the park. The park needs to be
preserved exactly as it is. Apparently, back in that
day, there was also plans for building underground parking
underneath Farragut Park, and that was vetoed. And the park also
felt that anything — any entrance to the Metro
system coming out in the middle of a park was also anathema to what they envisioned
for Farragut Square. So ultimately, one
of the drawbacks is that we have two stations very
close together, Farragut North, Farragut West, but the only way
to access those two stations is to come out of the ground
and walk down a block, and go back into the system. But, if anyone wants
to know why, it’s not because we
didn’t envision it, even back in the ’60s. It was just that the
concept was vetoed by others that influence what we can do. Quickly, we still
face issues with — also, the Park Service vetoed —
or, influenced where the station for the Smithsonian is, urging
it to be over on the side of the Mall, sort of
obscured, not as visible, not marring the look
on the National Mall. And we continue to face some
issues with the Park Service. All of our escalators have
to be covered, eventually. Any new escalator that we
install must be covered. So one of the challenges
we continue to face to this day is how to work
with the Park Service, and have them approve
the canopies that we put over our escalators. And often, they will not
approve any of the concepts that Metro comes up with. Another concept that never made
it into being was having — going over Rock Creek. So this was the — this would’ve
allowed us to be not nearly as deep at Dupont
and Woodley Park, but instead of building
sort of along with the Taft Bridge
there, we ended up having to go beneath Rock Creek. So another one of
the challenges, and one of the challenges of
working with the Parks Service. Definitely one of the things
that Harry Weese emphasized in his design of the system, and
as he looked at other systems, some stations, you
know, in other — you know, some other systems,
every station is unique, has its unique art,
unique architecture. His concept, Commission for Fine
Arts’ concept for Washington, D.C. was to have a
uniform look to the system. And furthermore, he decided that
he was inspired by the grandeur of the nation’s capital. So, granite, bronze, from
sculptures, from statues, and also, at the time, sort
of the concrete that was — you know, with brutalism and
brutalist architecture — those were the basic
influences for the stations. And to a large extent,
that continues today. So we still have
the granite stairs, granite edges on the platforms. To some extent, we’re going with
stainless steel in some places, but still, there’s
definitely bronze, you know, throughout the system. And then, of course, you
see the hexagonal tiles. That was also inspired back
then, and continues even when we replace station
platforms today with square tiles. We have those square
tiles imprinted with the hexagonal
design, to try to stay true to the initial design
of the system. So moving on beyond the 1966 — I know I have limited
time, so I’ll get to 1967. That’s when the WMATA Compact
was officially entered into. So the Compact is what
we are living with today. So The Compact Agency has been around for just over
50 years now. So it’s authorized to
construct, maintain, you know, operate the transit system. We are subsidized, as Gary
mentioned, by the jurisdictions for Montgomery and
Prince George’s County. That subsidy comes from
the State of Maryland. Today, we have 16 board members. We have eight voting, and
eight alternate board members. The four federal board members, those are relatively
new to the system. They were added in 2009. Back 50 years ago is when WMATA
adopted the initial concept for the system. The initial concept
was 97 miles. That grew over a few
years to be 103 miles. Interestingly, here,
for Montgomery County — something I didn’t know until
I was doing this research, but Shady Grove was not in
the initial 97-mile system. City of Rockville said, “No,
you can’t put a rail yard in our city,” so they
had to keep going out until they could find
space for a rail yard. And that’s why we are
fortunate to have Shady Grove as part of the system today. Ultimately, we will be
adding another 15 miles — I’m sorry, we have added 15
miles to the 103-mile system, so now we’re at 118, and the
last 11 miles of the system are under construction today. That will take us to Dulles
and beyond, a couple stations into Loudoun County, and that,
right now, is the last extension that we have envisioned
for the system. So we have the second-largest
heavy rail system, sixth-largest bus system. We do transport over 400,000
people a day on Metro Bus, and the fifth-largest
paratransit system, which is the system for
those with disabilities who cannot use the
regular fixed-rail service. Briefly, as I just
mentioned, phase two is going to bring the system
to 129 miles. This is the sequence of when
we added different segments of the system. I don’t know if you
can see that, but — so the Shady Grove
was 1984, I believe, and to Glenmont was 1998. So the newest station here in Montgomery County is actually
just under 20 years old, which really isn’t that old. And, again, we’re going to
hopefully finish getting this — the silver line in
a couple years. So now I’m going to turn
to some of the renderings that I was able to find for
Montgomery County stations. And a lot of these, you’ll
see, are basically true to what we ended up building. So these are some of
the initial concepts. This is the Grosvenor platform, which looks a lot
like it is today. Nicholson Lane Station — who
knows what Nicholson Lane is? White Flint. White Flint. So that’s the look of
the White Flint Station. In fact, you can
still see the — that condo is in the background
there, kind of giving it away. Another look at the White
Flint Station, we’ll call it. This is the Shady Grove Station. Again, obviously, it looks
very green out there. Things are changing, but that
is basically what the station looked like initially, before
we added other parking, and things like that. And then this station
actually — I don’t know why it was shown
this way, but Wheaton ended up being a lot different,
when we actually built it. But this was the initial look for how you would enter
the Wheaton Station. Obviously, they knew
they needed escalators, but it definitely is
different than this rendering. I was also able to find
some construction photos. So this is for Rockville. Shooting over to the other
side, this is Forest Glen, and I’ll show you — the
next one shows you kind of the depth of Forest Glen. Forest Glen is our deepest
station, 196 feet deep. It is our only station
that is only served by escalators — by
elevators, sorry. So we have high-speed elevators
that take you from street down to the platform in
about 20 seconds, and, again, it’s the only one
that’s like that. Of course, we do have
stairs in case of emergency. You can still get
out, but it is — it’s unique to Metro
in that regard. So here — going up the
red line on that side, this is heading up
towards Wheaton. And actually, you can see here,
this is the tunnel, and it looks like that tunnel’s about
the width of a single train, instead of the width of
two trains, which is — most of our tunnels are
the width of two trains. So this section of
Montgomery County, the geology of this area
— apparently, the soil, everything that we’re
living in there, the type of rock that’s
there is not very stable. And the concern was that you
can only build a tunnel so big within that type
of geologic area. So that’s why that section of our red line is
called a double-bore, where we basically had
two individual tunnels, just because of the
geologic conditions. Apparently, if we wanted
to do a single-bore tunnel, we would’ve had to
go even deeper, which obviously would’ve
been even more challenging. So that’s another look. I believe this is actually
getting into the station area — the platform area at Wheaton. And then, the escalators
under construction at Wheaton. So Wheaton is the
deepest, longest escalator in the western hemisphere,
230 feet. So I checked it. We’re actually number
seven in the world. So if you go over to Moscow, you can actually go ride
the longest escalator, and they got us beat
by a lot, over 400 feet at one of their stations. Our newest station in
Montgomery County — here’s some construction
photos of Glenmont. And right here, you can see this
is, you know, cut-and-cover, where basically it’s
right below the surface, and you can tell how
close we were to Georgia as we were building
this — this station. Again, another quick look at
the Glenmont station there. And then, after this, I’m going
to skip forward 20 years or so, to where we are today, and kind of what Metro means
for the region. So obviously, we’re a
driver of economic growth. You know, we estimate that
being close to Metro — the property values around
Metro are 7 to 9% higher, just because of the
proximity to Metro. You know, we support over
a million trips a day on Metro Rail and
Metro Bus combined, and we’re obviously a major — of major importance to
the federal government. Federal government
riders are over 1/3 of our peak commuters
on Metro Rail. Obviously, environmentally,
it’s a much more sustainable way of moving people
throughout the region, and it also makes the whole
region just more affordable. Many people, especially
as you get more into the downtown area — you
can live a car-free lifestyle, or at least, you know,
not drive as much, because of the proximity
of Metro to the region. Looking at how we, you know,
influence Montgomery County, you know, basically the
county has focused — I was, you know — people would
say that Montgomery County, Arlington County
are kind of models for how you focus
development around transit. And you can see right here,
you know, Bethesda back in 1974 was already somewhat
built-up before Metro, you know, got there, but by 1998, it was
considerably more developed. And then, in the early 2000s,
it continues to develop, and obviously, today,
with Marriott Headquarters and other major developments
going on, end of the purple
line, you know, rebuilding that whole
area of Bethesda. It continues to get built up. I was able to find a
couple other aerial photos from way back when. So that’s, you know,
the Strathmore Mansion, with not much else around it. Obviously, that area has
continued to grow, and actually, that whole parking lot
is now a parking garage. We’re going to finish
expanding that parking garage, and Metro’s going to have
more development even on Metro’s property
there, at Grosvenor. This is Wheaton. Obviously, Wheaton
continues to transform. Parking planning is building
its headquarters there, and other developments
have continued around the Wheaton area. And then White Flint — White Flint 1974 does
not look anything like White Flint
today, obviously. So it continued. I don’t know exactly when
that top photo there is, but you can see that there’s the
driving range at White Flint. That was there from
about 1995 to about 2004. So that gives you some sense
of when that photo was taken, and obviously, White Flint
continues to develop. And who knows? We might even have a
major headquarters there in the future. But seriously, I — what — you know, no idea what
Amazon is going to do. You know, maybe one in 20 chance that they would end
up at White Flint. But I think, significantly for
the region, and what Metro means to the region, the fact that
three out of the 20 sites that Amazon is still considering
is a great recognition of what Metro means
to this region. Amazon said, “We want
transit accessibility right at our second headquarters,” and
none of these places would be in the running, were
it not for Metro. So as Gary alluded to, I mean, the last couple years
have been challenging. I’ve had to call Gary
and say, “Hey, you know, we’re going to shut the system
down tomorrow,” literally, and that’s, you know, some
of the things that we face, you know, deterioration
of the system. I mentioned that the WMATA
Compact allowed us to build, operate, maintain, but the WMATA
Compact does not give taxing authority to Metro. So our support comes from the
jurisdictions, and every year, we go to the jurisdictions
with a, you know, request for funding. So that has led to some of the
deterioration of the system. As Gary mentioned, the Safe
Track campaign was a heavy, intensive initiative,
really focused on the aboveground
stations, aboveground rail for the basic foundation
of the system, replacing the wood rail
ties that hold the rail. It sounds very basic. It’s not very exciting, but —
and it’s very complex to do it, because you basically
have to have that section of rail out of service. There’s no other way. And normally, the adjacent rail
also out of service to do it in any effective, efficient way. Doing that type of
intensive work in the couple hours
overnight that we have, when the system’s
not running, is — I mean, the amount of
time it takes to stage, replace a few rail ties,
and break out, and get ready for the next morning’s
rush hour, is just — almost makes it not
even worth it. And that’s why we did the
campaign of going in there, shutting a whole section
down, and doing it, and getting a lot — much more
productivity during that time. For those who have seen our — ridden our new 7000-series
railcars, these railcars are basically — they replaced the railcars
that we opened with in 1976. So we have replaced
all those railcars. We’ve — and actually, another
series of railcars that was due to be rehabilitated,
instead, we decided just to replace those instead. And we’re finishing up
replacement of another series of railcars, what we
call the 5000-series. So these railcars are
much more reliable. They have a lot more
customer information, and the reviews have been very
positive from our customers. We also implemented
a couple things. It used to be that if you
tapped into the system, and then you find out that
your train is delayed, we would charge you
when you tap out, if you decide just to leave. So we were able to
stop doing that. So if you tap in, you decided,
oh, no, I’m going to — you know, there’s a delay,
I’m going to leave the system, now you have 15 minutes where
you can just exit the station. And then, if you saw
the news, on Thursday, our board approved another
customer convenience where if your trip during
rush hour is delayed more than 15 minutes, we will
automatically refund that trip to you. And this is really first in
the country, and really kind of first in the world. London has a good system where
you can apply for a refund, but we’re the first one to
really just automatically do it. And we can do that
because we know — we’re a tap-in, tap-out
Metro rail system, so we know when you’ve tapped
in, how far you’ve gone, and when you’ve tapped out, and
we know how long it should take that train to get there. And if it’s more than
15 minutes beyond — you know, or the scheduled
headway between trains, and how long it should
take you, then you’re going to get an automatic refund
on your smart trip card. Other things that our
general manager has focused on have been — has been fiscal
management, trying to get it — you know, reducing the — any
redundancies in the management, in the number of
employees that we have. We did end up having to
eliminate 800 positions. You know, we’ve — on
the other side, you know, for the folks operate — you
know, on the operations side, we’re trying to reduce
absenteeism, focus on workers’ comp. And then also, looking at
delivering the capital program. We had years where we
would have a budget, and we wouldn’t even spend
all the money that we had, just because we’ve been ramping
up the program over time, and it’s been challenging just
to get all the work delivered. We talked about Safe Track. I’ll skip that slide, I think. And then, the general
manager has a — kind of a plan for how to
get Metro back on track. It’s focused both on capital, and on the operating
side of the business. So on the capital side, we have
identified $25 billion in needs. Over 10 years, we believe we
can deliver $15-1/2 billion of improvements to the system — improvements, slash really
maintenance of the system. We want to establish
a multi-year, stable source of funding. Again, we’ve never had
dedicated funding for Metro, so we’re seeking $500
million from the region for dedicated funding. We want to keep the rest of the
capital program growing at 3%, just keep up with
inflation, and then we also — we get funding from Congress. That expires in about a
year, so we want to see that renewed for
another 10 years. On the operating side, there,
too, we want to, you know, continue steady growth of
the support that we get from the region, but
keep it manageable, also, for the local governments. So keep that at 3% growth,
to keep up with inflation. We want a rainy-day fund, just
to respond to emergencies, or if we have a snow-pocalypse
or whatever, that we can not have
our whole budget whacked by events like that. We want to focus — this is
controversial for the labor side of the business, but we want
to have our new hires from — who are part of the labor union, have them with a defined
contribution system, instead of a defined
benefit system. So basically, getting away
from the pension model. Again, you know, controversial
if you’re on that side of the business, but we think
it’s something that’s more manageable long-term for Metro. And then, we’re seeing
how we can also, you know, contract out different
functions within Metro. As I mentioned, the
funding challenges — this is not anything
new for Metro. That Center [assumed spelling]
Report was done back in 1986, so, you know, we’ve been running
trains for 10 years at the time. And already, back then,
folks had realized that the model was
not sustainable. These other — the JAO,
Brookings Institution, back in the mid-2000s
issued their own reports about how Metro needed
dedicated funding. This is — our union has
issued a report last year about finding ways to
fix and fund Metro. So there’s been a
groundswell, I would say, in the last couple years,
but it’s not a problem that is brand-new to Metro. Good news — Gary says I’m
the bearer of bad news, but there is good news. Here in Maryland, and also
in Richmond, and in D.C., there is legislation right
now that would fund Metro, that would establish
this $500 million fund that would be dedicated to
capital improvements for Metro. So in Maryland, we
have two sponsors — actually, Montgomery
County legislators, Marc Korman in the House, and
Brian Feldman in the Senate. So if I can ask any of
— anything of you guys, is to go back and
urge your legislator to support these bills. I think most Montgomery County
legislators have actually signed onto these bills. But House bills 372
and Senate bill 277, these basically follow
Governor Hogan’s proposal for putting 125 million from
Maryland into a fund at Metro, just for capital maintenance,
and then House bill 370 and the Senate bill
279, these are more on the governance
side of the house. These bills would actually put
the Maryland DOT Secretary, or the Secretary’s designee, directly onto the WMATA
board of directors. Theory there is that having —
since MDOT is the one paying, if you have MDOT more directly
involved in the operations and board management, you’re sort of eliminating
a middleman in that regard. So that’s that. I will take questions now. And how are we going
to work this? Is any — I think
there’s a microphone — I think they’re going to take
it around to people, but –>>You first.>>Hi. Yeah, I’m John
Compton from Washington Grove, the Historic Preservation
Commission. The — Two things. First of all, the initial plan
had the red line running as a — right through to Virginia. Instead, it makes this crazy
U-shaped, incredibly long route, which has turned out, in
recent years, to pose problems for the transportation. Nothing wrong with Metro,
but it omits a huge gap. So that leads, really,
to the question I have. Is the — why has
there been an inability to forward plan the Metro system
beyond its original conception, with the exception
of the silver line? I’ll accept that. The region has not
stopped growing. Fill-in has continued to
increase in density, and yet, there’s been no planning that really wasn’t done
30 years, or 50 years ago. I mean — I’ll leave it at that.>>Okay. I’d say it’s
kind of two-fold. One is that the system —
the — ultimately, what we — what the region decided to
build was 103-mile system. There have been two extensions. So Maryland did extend
the blue line to — from Addison Road to Largo,
basically, to get the blue line, like all other lines
— to basically get to, or just beyond the Beltway. Silver line, as you
mentioned, is the one extension. And again, silver line
was on sort of the maps — I mean, they were envisioning
rail to Dulles back in the ’60s. But it’s a challenge of funding. The region funded
the 103-mile system. Any additions to that
system are funded directly by the host jurisdiction. So, for instance, Maryland DOT
funded the blue line extension to Largo. The Metropolitan Washington
Airport Authority’s basically funding — managing the
silver line extension, and then those additions
to Metro get turned over to Metro to operate. So at some level, it’s
not even Metro’s ability to continue building
new parts of the system. I would say from a different
standpoint, there’s also the — there’s only so much you
can — so far you can go, because ultimately, these trains
filling up in the suburbs — the trains will be
kind of too full by the time they get closer in. And then, the people
closer in won’t have a — any space to get on a train. So there is some limit as to
how far you can keep extending the system. I’m not saying we’re there
yet, but that’s another, you know, part of the dynamics. Whoever grabs a mike.>>Hi. What conclusions
should we draw by your failure to discuss Silver
Spring, the integration of sister transportation
systems, such as MARC, and the upcoming purple line?>>Well, I wouldn’t draw any
conclusions from that, but — I mean, if you’re looking for
mobility within the region, definitely many different modes
help integrate with Metro. So, you know, for
instance, I didn’t talk about purple line either, but
purple line will be, obviously, a major benefit to
Montgomery County and Prince George’s County,
with links to, you know, four different Metro stations, Silver Spring, of
course, included. And then, of course, the
MARC system is a great system for feeding into Metro,
and also for transfers between Metro and MARC system. And we see that at Rockville. We see that at Silver Spring. We see that at Union Station. Interestingly, Union Station
is Metro’s busiest station, and half the riders — even
though it’s in the District, half the riders using the
Union Station system — station are Marylanders. So there’s definitely a lot
of interaction between MARC, VRE on the Virginia
side, and other modes. And, you know, I’d also —
I didn’t mention, you know, ride-on, but Montgomery County
funds an extensive bus network. So that whole network is
basically serving neighborhoods, bringing riders — usually,
most ride-on lines basically end or begin at a Metro station. So it’s a whole integrated
network, so definitely it’s all
part of a transit network.>>I have long thought that
on this end of the red line, that it ends about three
or four miles short of where it should have. Could you talk a bit
about that, please?>>Sure. The — again, the —
some of the initial concepts — and actually, one thing
I did not mention, but when Matt invited me to
speak, my first reaction was, well, you should
get Zachary Schrag. Because Zachary Schrag
literally wrote the book. So the book is “The
Great Society Subway,” and that book is actually
for sale, in the hallway. Just a plug for — but anyway,
so if you — but if you take — you know, if you pick up that
book, you’ll see that some of the initial concepts actually
had Metro stopping in Rockville, initially, and then
had future extensions to Gaithersburg and Germantown. So the initial concepts
envisioned it getting out as far as Germantown. Again, it’s — you know,
we end up at Shady Grove, because Rockville didn’t
want a rail yard, and again, it’s just something that —
I’m not saying it’s impossible, but right now, it’s
not envisioned. So there are many other
ways of serving — of getting more people
to the end of the line. You know, another concept is
the Corridor Cities Transitway, which would help from
Clarksburg to Germantown, to get folks to Shady
Grove Metro. So there are other modes
that can be utilized. But again, right
now, there are no — there’s nothing on the books
for extending the red line.>>I was — I was wondering, what happens to the
old railcars? Do they get, like, coral
reefs or something?>>So we have a contract,
actually, with a vendor who will — who recycles
those railcars. If you — this past
summer, actually, if you went to the
Grosvenor Station, one of those railcars
actually got cut up, and — by an artist, by a,
you know, metal artist, and actually converted into
small pop-up retail shops at the Grosvenor Station. So that’s one of the
more unique applications, but most of them just get — we put a contract out
to get them recycled. So that’s what’s
happening with them.>>I’d like to make a pitch for
pop-up museum space at each one of the Metro stations. Yes, ma’am? Can you please stand
up when you –>>Yes. You know, through the
years, Metro funding has been — you want me to stand up. Okay. Through the years, Metro funding has been an
annual issue, and you’re talking about a multi-year trust fund,
which certainly would help. The jurisdictions fight over
who should pay for what. Clearly, this area’s
still growing, and the question really is, is
can you comment on the prospects for us finally getting some
rationality into the system, given some of the political
machinations that we observe?>>Good question. So I will say that — I
mean, that — Metro — it is a complex beast, because
the dynamics of having Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. all
influencing how we manage the system just creates, you
know, a more complex — most other transit
systems are much more — you know, when they’re — when
they are multi-jurisdictional, you still usually have, like,
the core city as the primary, with some suburban influence. Metro’s really an —
you know, equal — equally managed by the three. So the dedicated funding that I
talked about would be a benefit. It would help us with kind of
the long-term capital planning. It would provide bondable
funding, so we could smooth out — so we could issue
bonds, and have that — those bonds guaranteed with
that stream of revenues on the capital side
of the budget. On the operating side, I don’t
think there’s an easy answer. I think we’re going to continue
having the issues between, you know, how much should
we be charging the riders, how much should we be asking the
governments to help subsidize. I mean, public transportation
is by — inherently, publicly subsidized. The question is, at what
level should that subsidy be? And there’s no easy answer
on that, but — so I — you know, maybe my answer’s
that at least some of that, I think, is going to continue. Just kind of the nature of the
system, on the operating side.>>Chicken and the egg question. The red line owes a lot to the
availability of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad right-of-way. So which came first,
knowing that you had that right-of-way available,
or designing the red line in that U-shape, and then
realizing, ah, we can put this on the B&O right-of-way?>>Good question. I don’t know exactly, but I know
that one of the early designs for the red line
actually continued from Silver Spring along the
right-of-way to Rockville. So it was later that
it kind of — it took the other bend instead. And as you come — and then
had the — you know, the — getting from Connecticut — you know, red line
goes up Connecticut, then bends over underground,
and goes up Wisconsin. So those were all
sort of done — I mean, it wasn’t
the initial concept. I’ll say it that way. I don’t know when they decided to have the red line
instead bend more north, rather than having — continuing from Silver Spring
towards Rockville, but I think it was kind of a — looking at the development
pattern, and looking at what
was buildable. And a lot of these also were
influenced by the WMATA board. So the board — some of the
early decisions back in the ’67, ’68, ’69 timeframe, the
WMATA board was actually — decide where should
the stations be. One of the criticisms on the
Fairfax County side, you know, was that they didn’t really
look at the future plans. And it took a long time for them
to actually build, you know, rail through Tysons, even though
they knew back in the ’60s that Tysons was planned as
a major development area. So some of the initial Fairfax
County stations were built and designed for where they
had existing population, even though those areas
weren’t necessarily where the county was focused
on future population growth.>>Hi.>>So –>>About a year ago, we heard
a talk given by Paul Wiedefeld, and he mentioned that, in
the original plans for Metro, it was envisioned as
a commuter system, that it wasn’t envisioned as
extending later into the day. And clearly, that’s
changed a lot. And now, with some of
the safety initiatives, there have been cutbacks
to the service, which have had a huge
impact on service employees, and other people
who have late hours. So can you talk about
where that is headed, in terms of what the vision is for how Metro will serve
people in the area?>>Sure. So right now, we
have cut back the hours, so — or, the other way is, we
have expanded the hours that were not open. So we’re using those expanded
hours of not being open for a preventive
maintenance program. We’re actually going
in, testing, doing mangaring [phonetic],
doing all sorts of analytics on the state of good
repair of the system itself. So the board has told Paul
Wiedefeld, “You can do this for two years, and
at a halfway point — ” so later this year
— “report back to us. And let us know how this
preventive maintenance program is working, and by — and
before the end of two years, report back whether
you still need that additional window overnight
to continue with the program. Or have you progressed
far enough that you can give back
some hours to the region for more transit service.” So I don’t know exactly
where we’re going to wind up with that, but the board
did not make it a blanket authorization forever that we’re
going to not stay open late on the weekends, or — so it’s
a window of time that we have to basically improve our
preventive maintenance. And hopefully, we will be
able to get that window back down some, and give some hours
back to the riding public.>>So this is a positive note
that I wanted to share with you. Metro’s been a part of
my life my entire life, and I have to say that
I am so appreciate of the work that’s been going
into Metro in the past couple of years, with the
Safe Tracking. And I actually feel
significantly more comfortable riding Metro now as a
part of my day-to-day life than I did maybe
five or six years. And knowing about that
initiative that you have, seeing the new trains that
are coming into service — I live by the Vienna
Metro Station, and seeing just the beautiful
care that’s being taken to restore that system, and to
bring it into the next phase, it’s really appreciated. Not only by myself, but
I know many of the people in my community have just
been really impressed with what’s been happening. So between Vienna, Dunn
Loring, and Tysons, where I am, it’s really changed
people’s lives, that things have
become more consistent, and the quality is increasing. So I just wanted to take a
moment to thank you for that, because you hear so many
not-good things on the radio, and in questions sometimes. But there is that
positive momentum, and I just wanted to thank you.>>Well, thank you,
and I didn’t know that I would have Virginians
in the room, too, but — so we have legislation
in Annapolis, but we also have legislation
in Richmond, also, right now, for dedicated funding. So please continue to encourage
whoever your elected official is to support dedicated funding. Okay.>>Stupid question, but this
goes back to a friend of mine who protects the lives
of the president. Can you name any president of the United States
who’s ever used Metro? [ Laughter ]>>I don’t know. I don’t know whether Secret
Service would allow that. But I — you know, we’ve — definitely, we’ve spotted
some members of Congress on the system before,
but I don’t think a — I don’t know of a president.>>The Washington Metro area
has the largest percentage of commuters using mass
transit to get to work, but we also have the
second-longest commute times in the country. Can you address that
contradiction?>>Well, I don’t know if
we’re actually at the largest. I think New York City has a
larger percentage using transit, but we are at about
20% for this region. Now, I think, overall, it’s
— I mean, again, the — I mean, people will call the
Metro system kind of a hybrid between a commuter
rail and a subway. So in a lot of areas, you
know, up around New Jersey and New York area, you have
to, you know, take the rail — you know, a commuter rail
to get to the subway, and then you take the subway
to get to your office. Here, you know, it’s more of a,
you know, system where you get to the end of the line,
and then you can ride in. So it’s a different system. I think it’s just a
more spread-out region, to some extent, and
I think overall, this region hasn’t always
done everything to invest in transportation, whether
it be highways or transit. I think the region has so many
great attributes, but investing in transportation hasn’t
necessarily been one of them.>>There’s a gentleman
with a big stick — as soon as I saw that, I got
over here as quick as I could.>>This is really a
historical question, not a what are you going
to do about it question, but the committee that did
the original design went all over Europe looking at
subway — metros there. Why didn’t they look
at Boston or New York? That’s my question.>>I think they were already
more familiar with that. The other thing was that,
actually, they also visited — I didn’t mention it, but
Toronto, and at the time, a lot of folks were saying, “Oh, we should have the
next Toronto.” And people were like, well — you know, and Toronto was
relatively new at the time. And I think the thought
was, well, let’s see what else
is out there. But I think they
were already familiar with the T and New York.>>Good morning. I’m Dan Moore, live
at Grosvenor Park. I noticed that New
York City is going through a major procurement
for new cars, including cars where you can walk from
one car to another. Do we coordinate
major procurements with these other metro systems?>>No, it’s a — that’s really
not done in the transit world. Basically, every transit
system has slight, you know, differences in how they
either maintain the railcars, or other attributes that
are unique to each system. Often, it’s the same vendors. I mean, right now, we’re buying
our railcars from Kawasaki, and Kawasaki just won a contract from New York, for
their railcars. We had also — our maintenance
garages, for instance, are a certain length, and we
can fit basically two railcars in that space. So we’ve looked at the concept
of what they call, like — sort of like your
articulated bus, where it bends in the middle, and a long bus. Hey, could we do that with a
railcar, and have, you know, more space between railcars,
and with a, you know, bending, articulated railcar? Right now, I don’t think
we’re going to do that. I think the main
challenge is that, if we wanted a four-car consist
like that, that was articulated and not — you know, and it — that we don’t really
have rail facilities to put a four-car length consist
of railcars for maintenance. So there would be added benefit. You know, you would get more
space for riders, you know, to get on every train. Not a lot, but a few. But right now, it would
cost so much to retrofit and expand our rail yards that,
in the whole scheme of things, I don’t think it’s worth it.>>Thank you. I’m Linda White. I live in Washington. I used to work in
Montgomery County schools. I have a few questions. I thought it was interesting
that the gentleman said that the planners went to
Europe to look at the stations, but I’ve always wondered why
the station in Washington, and even New York, where I
used to live, don’t have walls between the people
and the tracks. And I wonder if Metro ever
gave thought to having walls like they do in some
of the European cities. And another question is,
signage in Metro is so bad, and especially at — if I’m
at a place like Silver Spring, it would be nice
to have something that says north or south. And I realize that the
red line circles around, but it’s kind of confusing. But even on most of the other —
in most of the other stations, it’s hard to see where you
are when you’re in the train. And the other thing is,
the stations are dark. The underground stations that
are in the city, they’re dark, just inviting crime,
and question about the muffled announcements. I don’t know if there’s
a way to — everybody knows about
that, right? Okay. We can’t understand
them, and then, elevators. For the most part, in New
York, they have an elevator by each entry to a station,
but in Washington — just as an example, Shaw Hower
[assumed spelling] University, if you’re at Eighth and
R, but need an elevator, you have to go all the way
over to Seventh Street. And people don’t know
that until they get there. So if somebody’s maybe
handicapped or disabled, you know, how do they walk two
blocks to get to an elevator? So I don’t think these
things are insurmountable. These are big things, but
maybe they can be planned.>>I don’t know which ones to
tackle, but definitely, I mean, we’ve heard from
— on lighting — some of these are part of
the initial design of Metro. The dim part of Metro is — was supposed to be
calm and soothing. Right. You know, now
as — you know, it — you know, people want
more light for anti-crime, for low vision population, for
— many people want more light. And we are adding light. You know, it’s not — we
can’t do it overnight, but we’re trying to add more
lighting into the system. For the — having the — you
know, a wall, or some sort of barricade, you know, as — along the tracks,
that’s been studied. Part of the challenge now is
that not all the doors open at the same spot on the old
trains versus the new trains, so there’s no easy way
to accomplish that. Elevators — I mean, the system,
when it was built, it was, you know, before Americans
with Disabilities Act, and it was kind of
recognized early on that it actually
was much more advanced than other American
systems for accessibility. But we could do better, and
obviously, newer stations, when they’re designed now,
we’re adding redundant elevators to systems — to stations. So we are trying to get better.>>I had a question about the
bus system that Metro runs.>>Yes?>>Have you tracked
the historic bus lines, and the transit companies
that operated in the city of Washington, and out
through to the suburbs, and paralleled the
routes with that? And how is that moving forward,
in terms of bus ridership? Which I hear is up in
D.C., in particular.>>So actually — so we
had started operating buses before rail. So in 1973, we basically
bought three bus companies that were sort of
going bankrupt. We bought a — and
then a fourth one. And we basically
inherited the lines. So the lines we’re
running today, many of them look
remarkably similar to lines that we were running
back in the 1970s. We worked with folks like
Gary Erenrich to look at — all right, just because
this route has been here for 40 years doesn’t mean this
is where people are trying to begin and end
their bus ride today. So how can we change these
routes to be more efficient, more serving in today’s
population. It’s challenging,
let me tell you. Whenever you want to change a
bus route, there’s someone using that bus route exactly as it is
today that doesn’t want change. So that makes it challenging. But we are trying to figure out
how can we improve, how can we, you know, take out
some of the stops so that the bus isn’t
stopping every single block, but it’s not easy.>>So I hope you’ll accept
another couple of compliments.>>Yes.>>The first is to the city of
Rockville for having the wisdom of not putting the
end of the line right in the middle of
the county seat. It’s made a big difference
in Rockville. But the other is to, WMATA, for
in the late ’70s and early ’80s, listening to preservationists
in Rockville who were saying, don’t destroy the BNO station
for which you had something like $30,000 in the
budget to demolish, but instead moving it 30
feet south, 30 feet west, and turning it around to — and
then selling it to a good body who is still taking care of it. So thank you for
preservationists. But if you look — you
were talking about design. Metro was flexible enough to
listen again to preservationists in Rockville who said,
everything else is curved. Rockville’s BNO station
traditionally have the peaked roof. So if you look at the Rockville
station’s roof it is a peaked roof rather than a curved one. Thanks.>>Mm-hmm.>>About four or five
years ago I was reading in the Washington Post about
how Metro Board was told that single tracking on
weekends was necessary for a few more years. I don’t recall exactly when
it was supposed to end, but that time has
definitely passed. And since I read that
article it’s come out that there are all sorts of
things wrong with the system, that it gone into
a deep decline, that there are all
sorts of safety issues. How was it that the management
of Metro at that time was so unaware of all
these problems?>>Let’s see. Well, I mean, today I would say,
the concept of single tracking on the weekends, I don’t
see an end to that. If there was a suggestion
that that was a temporary fix, definitely it should not
have been put out there. So I don’t know exactly
what era of Metro that was, you said four or five years ago. No, I mean, as a system, I mean,
as problems have cropped up, and as we’ve, you know, done
deeper dives into the state of the system, you know,
we do find more things that need to be replaced. People kind of basically
call it the system like a $40 billion asset or the replacement costs
would be $40 billion. And whenever you have
an asset like that, you have to invest
billions, at least, you know, $1.5 billion a year just to
keep it going the way it is, without any expansions,
without any, you know, real improvements. So, no, we continue
to test things. You know, we just found a major
electrical line, you know, cable that was, you
know, original, back over near Rhode Island
Avenue that, you know, wasn’t, you know, functioning
like it should. And we had to go in there and
rip that out, or actually, it’s still underground. So we had to replace it, and then we still
have a project coming up to actually go
in and replace it. So we just — we keep
finding stuff, and I expect that we will continue
to keep finding things that need to be fixed. I mean, the system
keeps getting older. [ Inaudible Speaker ] Because people want us
running as late as we can to serve the nightlife of D.C. I
mean, it’s always a competing — you know, how much do
we keep the system open to serve everyone
who wants to use it, and how much do we
keep the system closed to do the required maintenance, and trying to find
that right balance.>>I don’t know how many
historians might have been on the engineering group or the architectural group
originally, probably none. But certainly, when the
board members went around, or the engineers and
architects went around to look at European stations, they
saw that there are quiet a few that interpret the history
of the station and bring in a much better
visitor experience. Can you discuss whether there
are any considerations being given to upgrading kind
of the visitor experience, both from interpretation of
sites at or near the stations, and also to improving the
public address system, which even English
speakers can’t understand? I really feel sorry
for foreign speakers.>>So definitely the PA
system on the railcars, on the new 7000 Series
railcars, is much better. We’ve done some improvements
in the stations, but they’re still
not that much better. I think just the acoustics of that area is very
challenging for us. It’s not something that — you know, that we
haven’t heard before. But — so I don’t know what
our next phase of trying to improve internal
acoustics are. The concept of how much
information is available to the customer inside
the station — actually, some of the initial
plans did not even want like the station name along
the wall, or the station name on the pylon in the station. That was a challenge convincing
some of the early designers of the system that we have
to give this to the customer to let them know what
station they’re at [laughter]. But it was seen as
being, you know — and then also, of course, no advertising was ever
envisioned within the system. They wanted very
clean, you know, as uniform as possible
throughout the whole system. But we have done
some things to try to improve some customer
information. I was, you know, volunteering
in the system at Pentagon, and there we have, you
know, a touchscreen. So it’s an advertisement
sometimes. But then if you touch it, it
becomes the Metro system map with some information. So we’re looking at how can
we provide more customer information about the area
and other things, you know. Where is the bus —
where are the bus bays for the local bus routes,
different information like that. So we’re getting there, but –>>We’ve got time
for two questions. One over there and
one over here.>>Have you rethought the lack
of artwork in the Metro system? I mean, I go to Paris,
or to London, or Moscow, and I know what — each
station is different. And I think it would
increase local pride, and it would be something
you could use to raise money from local business
to have some artwork. And there is some nice artwork. If you come out of
Archives, for instance, there’s a wonderful mural, but
there’s nothing in the station. And all those poor
people who are half asleep on the subway don’t know
where they’re getting off, and they might really
enjoy seeing some artwork that would tell them.>>So we do have an
Art in Transit program. In fact, Laurent Odde,
who’s the manager of that, actually gave me some of the
images that you all saw earlier. But it’s — so we do have
some art in downtown stations within the station environment, but you just want to
see more, I think. So — but it’s a program. It’s — you know,
we have a program where we have sponsoring
entities that try to add art. You know, right now, all brand
new silver line stations include some sort of art. Often it’s like in the plaza
area, not necessarily right on the station platform. But there is a program for
that, and we definitely — right now we’re working with the
city of Rockville, for instance. The underpass of the Metro
tracks, and also the CSX tracks, kind of that, you know, iron
rusting underpass, you know, area, we’re trying to see what
can we do to add art to that to make that part of the —
so it won’t be in the station, but it will be there
for the whole community to see and benefit from. So we are working on it.>>I had always heard that Harry
Weiss, the original designer, had maintained strict control
over all design elements of the station, including
lighting, signage, advertising, everything, and that
didn’t end until his death. Is that an urban myth or
is that actually true, that his firm maintained
those restrictions?>>I would say maybe
partly both. I mean, so, I mean, it was basically the [inaudible]
board was the one that had to approve additional
advertising in the system. And for the longest time they
were resistant because some of the concepts of
having this very clean — the brutalist, clean,
simple aesthetic of the system was what Weiss
envisioned, and some others too. So I think his influence
lasted a long time. I don’t know whether he had
to die before it could change, but I think it was more that
the WMATA board had to evolve and had to recognize the — some
of the financial constraints and the need to, you know,
encourage some advertising in the system, while trying
to keep it still tasteful and, you know, recognizing — and trying to keep many of
the aesthetics still there.>>All right. Can we give Charlie a
big round of applause? [ Applause ] [ Music ]

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