Metro Needs More Capacity

I think it’s a bit odd to frame an article about overcrowding on Metro as a story about the problem of “seathogs” who try to take up two seats. This is obnoxious behavior, but as we learn halfway through the article the main problem here is undercapacity:

By 2020, Metro projects that the Red, Blue and Yellow lines will be “highly congested,” with 100 to 120 people per car, and that the Orange Line will be “unmanageable,” with more than 120 riders per car.

The transit agency would need 320 more rail cars to keep congestion manageable, but the current capital spending plan does not include funds for those, Kubicek said in a recent presentation to Metro’s board of directors.

The failure to continue investment in Metro’s capacity at an adequate level is incredibly shortsighted. Since its construction in the 1970s, Metro has been an enormous success and today it serves as the infrastructure backbone for one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. I think car commuters think they don’t care about Metro performance or capacity, but they’re going to learn otherwise when the people who don’t fit on the trains all try to join them on the highway. If we do congestion pricing on the roads and use a healthy share of the funds to keep increasing transit capacity, then everyone will end up happy. If we continue down the current course, we’re going to choke on each other and the region will have to stop growing.