One of Metro greatest criticisms is the hub-and-spoke model the system takes. A function of being both an urban subway and suburban commuter rail, a system built during a time of monocentric economic opportunities (downtown D.C.) as well as a lack of redundancy in the system, it can be a haul to take what should be relatively quick trips. The problem is exacerbated on weekends, when trackwork and longer headways make transferring an exercise in patience.
If one wants to go from Clarendon to Bethesda, an 8-mile trip as the car drives, it could easily take an hour on a weekend by train. Or from Capitol Hill to Silver Spring. Or even from Takoma to Rockville; who wants 40 minutes of Red Line? These trips are longer than they seemingly should be on weekdays. Forget weekends.
These areas’ losses are downtown D.C.’s gains. Get-togethers are instead scheduled around Metro Center or Chinatown, where all the lines converge, at locations like RFD, The Regal movie theather on 7th St. NW or the Portrait Gallery. If certain trips could be made transfer-free, some of these afterhours and weekend meetups would almost certainly shift to the DMV’s outskirts.
Greater Greater Washington has some interesting ideas on system expansion and new routes that would require mostly new connections — few new stations or much track mileage are proposed in this plan. Still, the proposal(s) will cost big money and take time, but surely some of the no-brainer stuff is in the near future, even if I can’t imagine a Vienna to Dulles route in my lifetime.
But until a train goes directly from Anacostia to Rosslyn in three stops or Metro Center and Chinatown combine forces to become a downtown juggernaut, there is a good chance the next time you try to make plans at 8 p.m. on a Sunday your friend will suggest: “Let’s meet halfway. Chinatown at 8:30?” And D.C. will grab some sales tax that it might not have with a more redundant system.