Metro Blue Orange Silver Capacity & Reliability Study

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Alternatives Development and Evaluation


A set of project concepts was developed based upon the study's four goals and presented to the public for feedback at four public open houses and an online survey. More than 2,000 responses and surveys were submitted, resulting in 275 additional "concept" ideas.

Initial Alternatives and Screening

Based on the identified needs and goals, and informed by stakeholder and public feedback, those 275 project concepts were refined into 16 initial alternatives. Those 16 alternatives were then screened against a No-Build Alternative in the following order to consider whether and how each would:

  • Serve BOS travel patterns and relieve projected Metrorail passenger crowding
  • Help attain the four identified goals
  • Serve areas with projected population and employment densities suitable for Metrorail service
  • Align with stakeholder and public feedback and comments

Only alternatives that passed each of the four screening questions were recommended for more detailed study and evaluation.

For more detailed information on the initial screening process, please click here.

Current Alternatives

Six alternatives successfully passed the initial screening process and were developed in more detail and subjected to a full performance assessment and cost-benefit analysis (CBA). Those six alternatives include the No-Build Alternative, a Lower Capital Cost Alternative, and four potential Metrorail realignments. The six alternatives are presented below.

The CBA results, along with additional public and stakeholder feedback, will provide regional leaders and Metro's Board of Directors the information they need to identify and select a Locally-Preferred Alternative (LPA).

  • No-Build Alternative
  • The study considers a No-Build Alternative, which includes the existing regional transportation system, completion of the Silver Line Phase II and Potomac Yard Station, as well as other projects already included in WMATA's capital improvement program (CIP) and the Transportation Planning Board (TPB)'s regional long-range transportation plan, Visualize 2045 (only the fiscally-constrained element). The No-Build Alternative provides a baseline from which to compare the potential benefits, costs, and performance of the other five alternatives.

  • Lower Capital Cost Alternative
  • The Lower Capital Cost alternative attempts to meet the four study goals at a lower construction cost than a new Metrorail line. This alternative includes all of the following components:

  • Enhanced BOS Bus network (6 bus rapid transit (BRT) lines + 54 commuter routes)
  • Dynamic rail scheduling
  • Rail turnback infrastructure
  • Core Metrorail station expansions
  • Railcar seating capacity reconfiguration/enhancement
  • The enhanced bus and rail turnback components are illustrated in the maps below:

  • BRT Routes



  • Commuter Routes

    BOS ALT LCC Commuter Bus-1

    BOS ALT LCC Commuter Bus-2

  • Rail Turnbacks

    BOS LCC Turnbacks Peak Service

  • Metrorail Build Alternatives
  • Four of the current alternatives would be new Metrorail extensions and realignments:
  • Blue Line to Greenbelt:
  • The Blue Line would serve a new second Rosslyn Station (with a direct tunnel connection to the existing Rosslyn Station), cross the Potomac River, then run under M Street through Downtown DC to Union Station. From there it would run northeast through Ivy City, Port Towns, Hyattsville, and College Park to Greenbelt. It would operate on separate tracks from the existing Green and Yellow lines.

  • BOS ALT Blue Line to Greenbelt

  • Blue Line to National Harbor:
  • This realignment of the Blue Line would also serve a second Rosslyn Station (with a direct tunnel connection to the existing Rosslyn Station), and would run under M Street between Georgetown and Union Station. From Union Station it would turn south, providing new north-south service in Waterfront and Navy Yard and creating new rail access in fast-growing areas such as Buzzard Point, St. Elizabeths, and National Harbor, before crossing over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to Alexandria.

  • BOS ALT Blue Line to National Harbor

  • Silver Line Express in Virginia:
  • This alternative would build a separate tunnel for the Silver Line in Northern Virginia, between the West Falls Church Station and a second Rosslyn Station. This new tunnel would separate the Silver Line from the Orange and Blue lines, and would support express service or a mix of express and local service. From the new Rosslyn Station the Silver Line would follow the same route as the Blue Line alternative to Greenbelt, from Georgetown to Union Station then through Ivy City, Port Towns, Hyattsville, and College Park to Greenbelt.

  • BOS ALT Silver Line Express in Virginia

  • Silver Line to New Carrollton:
  • The fourth rail alternative separates the Silver Line from the Orange Line at Clarendon, providing a new connection at a second Rosslyn Station before continuing in a separate tunnel through Georgetown and Downtown DC to Union Station. From Union Station it would serve Ivy City and the Port Towns area, then continue east along the Annapolis Rd/450 corridor to New Carrollton.

  • BOS ALT Silver Line to New Carrollton

Evaluation of Alternatives

The four Metrorail alternatives and the Lower Capital Cost alternative were subjected to a detailed Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) to see how well each would perform relative to the others and the No-Build Scenario in 14 performance measures, each directly related to the four study goals. Detailed analysis and results will be posted on this page before the next round of public engagement. The graphic below shows rankings of each alternative based on Benefits and Cost-effectiveness performance:

CBA Graphic-rankings

Contact us!

For more information about the Blue/Orange/Silver Capacity & Reliability Study, please send an email to:

Or you may contact Metro's Office of Customer Information at 202-637-7000 (TTY 202-638-3780). Press 88 and then press 5.