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 DC

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, DC 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 DC, 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 DC 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 DC

, 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, $15 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 DC 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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