Silver Spring Capacity Analysis Study Under Way

September 6th, 2013

Metro is addresses crowding, integration of Purple Line in new Silver Spring Capacity Analysis.

Metro staff have recently kicked off a capacity analysis of the Silver Spring station. The purpose of this study is to evaluate how well the station is functioning currently in terms of access and egress, vertical circulation, and faregate crowding. The study is also looking at how to accommodate growth in demand due to the opening of the Purple Line as well as increasing job and household density in Silver Spring and the region between now and 2030.

queuing heat map

The current conditions assessment is nearly complete, and shows that the station is performing well under normal conditions.  The graphic above is a cumulative mean density map, illustrating the average amount of “elbow room” each passenger has during the peak 15 minutes.  It shows that the current configuration of faregates at the two mezzanines (north is to the upper left corner) is adequate to service PM peak period demand, with only a little crowding (orange) near some faregates.

This post focuses on the PM peak period because Silver Spring has more station exits in the PM peak than the AM peak:  exiting passengers all disembark the train at the same time, which can cause queues to form at escalators and faregates.  Passengers entering the station, however, tend to trickle in and don’t put as much of a strain on station facilities.   These passengers can crowd the platform waiting areas, which will also be evaluated under this study.

The videos below show simulations of pedestrian movement on the platform (first video) and mezzanine (second video) levels under the current station configuration and demand levels, illustrating that queues at escalators and faregates clear between train arrivals and there is not excessive crowding on the platforms.

The study does suggest that some additional faregates be added in the short term to increase redundancy at the north mezzanine, which only has a total of 5 faregates.  But in general, Silver Spring is performing much better under normal conditions than other core stations which are experiencing some growing pains, such as Gallery Place and Union Station.

The next steps of the study will be to look at the performance of the station in future years.  Many factors will influence the demand for Metrorail at Silver Spring over the next 20 years, including the opening of the much-delayed Silver Spring Transit Center and the opening of the Purple Line.  Metro plans to have a final set of short- and long-term recommendations for Silver Spring by the end of the year.


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