The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority began its enhanced rush hour service, “Rush Plus,” June 18. The new arrangement — with six additional trains per hour (three in each direction) on the Orange Line during rush hours – sets out to ease “Orange Crush,” when peak trains on the Orange Line between Courthouse and Rosslyn carry more passengers per car than anywhere else on the system, Metro says. “For 33,500 Blue and Yellow Line customers in Virginia, Rush Plus will result in an increase in the share of Yellow Line trains, meaning more direct and faster access to downtown via the Yellow Line bridge.”
Metro explains: “Rush Plus is an expansion of rush hour service that will result in additional trains between Mt. Vernon Square and Greenbelt, and between Vienna and Court House, as well as new transfer-free travel opportunities between stations on several lines. Rush Plus is designed to ease crowding, improve the commuting experience for Metrorail riders on the Orange, Blue, Green and Yellow lines, and prepare for the future Silver Line.”
As part of Rush Plus, “21 Metrorail stations will see an increase in train service,” Metro says. “During each rush-hour period, 18 new Orange Line trains — three per hour in each direction — will operate between Vienna and Largo Town Center. Every third existing Blue Line train (three trains per hour in each direction) will now operate between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt via the Yellow Line bridge. These trains will be identified as Yellow Line trains. As a result, customers at Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn Street and stations from L’Enfant Plaza to Greenbelt will have new transfer-free trip options between certain stations.”
Metro is also making some changes to its SmarTrip cards. These changes include vending locations for SmarTrip Cards in all stations, the option to automatically reload the card and a raise in price for those riders who use the paper fare card. Some changes will be in place by July 1. Another round of changes will be implemented by September and even more changes are planned for 2013 and 2014.
Currently, bus riders using the SmarTrip card save 20 cents per ride and 50 cents of rail transfers. Beginning July 1, Metrorail will start charging $1 more per trip for those who use paper fare cards.