Update: Version 2 is now available.

Dan at BeyondDC was one of several people to comment that Metrorail is not the most cost-effective way to provide transit. In fact, it’s pretty darn cost-ineffective. So while it’s fun to dream about Metro lines everywhere, what’s a more achievable transit vision?

There are two areas officials want to improve transit, on opposite ends of the regional-local spectrum. On the one side, Maryland wants to evolve MARC from an occasional and slow commuter railroad into “a mass transit service more like Metro”. This would involve beefing up frequencies, expanding the system, and through-routing trains past Union Station to L’Enfant Plaza, Crystal City, and Alexandria, and potentially on to the VRE lines on the other end. Transfers should be publicized on the map and announced by Metro announcers, riders should be able to use SmartTrip, and the system should be branded (something like the “Maryland-Virginia Express”).

On the other end, DC wants to connect more neighborhoods with streetcars, and is starting work in a few places. DC started out with an ambitious streetcar plan (here’s a map and a presentation from DDOT. This was scaled back in the comprehensive plan (item #7), but what if DC built all the streetcars they’ve proposed?

We’d get a map something like this. Click for big version and see below or click “read more” for detailed notes.

What’s in this map

Light rail, streetcar, BRT, and/or monorail lines. This includes the existing Baltimore Light Rail, the proposed Purple Line from Bethesda to New Carrollton, the proposed Corridor Cities Transitway north of Shady Grove (or one version of it, anyway), all the DC Streetcars, and monorail or something to Fort Belvoir.

The Maryland-Virginia Express (my name). All MARC and VRE lines have increased service equivalent to that of Metro, riders can easily transfer and use SmarTrip, and all trains run through from Union Station to Alexandria.

Infill stations in Alexandria and at the Jefferson. As discussed in the first fantasy map.

What’s not in this map

The Silver Line. I just couldn’t fit this in since the track from Foggy Bottom to Stadium-Armory would have gotten very thick with lines.

An extended Green Line. Most of the areas on the proposed extended Green Line are already served by MARC, making it unnecessary if MARC becomes the MVX.

MARC/VRE rail expansion. MARC wants to extend its lines and Dan of BeyondDC suggests making a complete regional system. There wasn’t space on the map to fit it all in.

Baltimore Light Rail expansion. Baltimore is studying expanding its light rail; I just didn’t have time to put everything in.

Columbia. It’d be nice to have transit in Columbia. But what? There could be a light rail loop connecting to the Jessup station. Or, there is a track that branches off south of Jessup that dead ends in a former industrial area in southeast Columbia; that could be extended in a tunnel under Broken Land Parkway to Columbia Town Center, and MVX could have a branch running there with a stop near the current rail terminus for a park-and-ride. Or maybe a combination.

I’m going to take a little break from maps because other, immediate policy issues are being neglected with all this transit expansion fantasizing. However, please give your comments and I will make tweaks and/or more maps soon!

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.