Metro, MARC to Expand
Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 02:01
New changes to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will give Georgetown students increasing access to nearby Baltimore and Northern Virginia, albeit for an increased fee compared to current Metro fares.
In the coming year, transportation to and from Washington, D.C., will be transformed by the completion of the Silver Line and the introduction of weekend Maryland Area Regional Commuter train service to Baltimore, in addition to an increase in fees.
The construction of the new Silver Line, which will run from Largo Town Center in Prince George’s County Md to Wiehle Avenue in Fairfax County, Va., will extend the Metrorail to Dulles National Airport.
“The idea of extending the rail to Dulles has been contemplated for decades,” Metro spokesperson Dan Stessle said.
The project, whose construction is overseen by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, marks the first time in Metro history that a railroad will be constructed by an entity outside of the WMATA.
“It’ll benefit the whole region. Just like all of the Metro rail lines, it’ll be used by commuters, by leisure travelers, by people who are shopping at Tysons Corner or people who live in northern Virginia who want to go into the District or a Redskins game in Prince George’s County,” Stessle said.
Much of the infrastructure improvement will be funded by a proposed 3 percent metro fare increase slated to begin in July 2014 in accordance with a 2010 resolution by the Metro Board of Directors to increase Metro fares every two years in order to stay in line with inflation.
“We continue to believe that Metro is a great value, especially when you consider the cost of parking for commuters as well as the hassle traffic and the like,” Stessles said.
Tucker Cowden (MSB ’17), who takes the Metro to get to his internship on Capitol Hill, expressed concern over the Metro fare increases.
“I was definitely concerned because that’s kind of my go-to for my internship. It’s definitely something people consistently use because it’s the least expensive option, so the idea of it becoming more expensive is something that you have to consider on a daily basis if you’re going to be using the Metro under new fares,” Cowden said.
Abbey McNaughton (COL ’16), who also takes the Metro to her internship on the Hill, hoped the Metro fare increase might place added pressure on Georgetown to increase shuttle service for students going to Capitol Hill.
“I guess I would say that if Metro fees continue to increase, then hopefully Georgetown will take increasing [the number of] shuttles down Halfmore Hill a little more seriously,” she said.
Along with the construction underway for the Silver Line, Metro riders can expect to see ongoing weekend infrastructure improvements on several other lines, which involve replacing rail ties, fasteners and railroad pieces in order to make the railway safer and more reliable.
“It’s not sexy, and most people don’t quite fully understand what’s happening out there, but they know that every weekend we’re doing lots and lots of work,” Stessle said. “As we get through the critical work, we can start stepping that back and people will eventually see more normal weekend services with fewer disruptions and fewer track work impacts.”
In step with the new increase in public transportation options, the MARC Train, which offers service to Harford County, Md.; Baltimore City, Md; Washington D.C.; Brunswick, Md; Frederick, MDdand Martinsburg, W.va, will now offer weekend service on its Penn Line, easing access to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
As of this spring, Georgetown students will also be able to enjoy new transportation in the neighborhood, with the opening of a new bike lane on M Street. The lane will complement the already existing bike lane in the opposite direction on L Street.
“For some people it may be their only option as far as moving around goes,” Communications Specialist in the District Department of Transportation Monica Hernandez said.
The new bike lane, funded through local and federal funds, has been in the works since 2005.