Naturally, there has been much written about the terrible Metro crash on the Red Line earlier this week. Had this been a nasty pile-up on the Beltway, we might have heard about it by by this point, we probably would have stopped talking about it by now, and it certainly never would have been international news. It is out of the ordinary, tragic, and was a failure of public infrastructure, unlike traffic accidents, which are usually the failures of individual drivers (we'll forgo the argument that fault may lie in road design). The fact that service disruptions continue on the Red Line is another reminder of this horrible accident. After all, these disruptions have a far greater impact on Metro than a bad traffic accident has on area highways.
If there is an accident on US-29 in Montgomery County, I can drive on Georgia or New Hampshire Avenues. But the stations that were shut down the past couple days isolated eastern Montgomery County from the rest of the Metro System. Originally, I tinkered with a map showing a separated Yellow Line for the sake of greater capacity and more geographic coverage for the Metro System. This week's accident has shown that adding redundancy to the system can be just as valuable as adding capacity.
Realizing the need for more redundancy on the system in the wake of this tragic crash is not an original idea. The Purple Line would obviously create alternate routes throughout the system. The Purple Line is both necessary and long overdue, however separating the Yellow and Green Lines would add capacity to existing track, much like separating the Blue and Orange Lines. In the case of the Yellow Line, it would allow for increased capacity on its Potomac River Bridge. If separated, the entire Green Line and the Yellow Line north of Pentagon would have the same capacity as the Red Line.
Here's what I would do with a separate Yellow Line:
View Separate Yellow Line in a larger map
This alignment is not 100% original either. Bringing Metro to North Capitol Street and Georgia Avenue is in no way a new idea. In these cases, however, people seem to want it for the geographic coverage, and not the additional capacity or system redundancy. Coverage is good, it brings transit to a new area. Capacity and redundancy, however, improve the entire system.
Perhaps I added a few too many stations, but they are just suggestions. While this would add service to the North Capitol Street and Georgia Avenue corridors, it would add redundancy to both the Green and Red Lines via Silver Spring, Georgia Av/Petworth, Union Station, and L'Enfant Plaza.
If this line existed already, the station closures on the Red Line might only have meant an additional transfer for Montgomery County commuters instead of the shuttle services to which Metro resorted after the crash.