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Rail Service Guidelines

Rail service planning efforts is multi-layered with a primary focus on matching service levels and capacity with demand. Key rail policies address the frequency of service, span of service and passenger loading. Additional efforts focus upon coordination among lines sharing common track or stations, public safety, and enabling allotments of time for regularly occurring preventive maintenance.

  • Rail Headway/Frequency
    Headway refers to the interval of time, expressed in minutes, between consecutive trips on a transit line. Headways are based on policy and demand. Frequency refers to how often the arrival of a trip occurs in a given time. For instance if the headway of a line is 10-minutes the frequency is six trips arrive every hour. Service frequencies are set in a manner that ensures a reasonable and attractive level of service is provided throughout the day and to provide sufficient capacity to adequately meet ridership demand.
  • Span of Service
    Span of service refers to the hours of the day and days of the week that service is operated. For the rail system, the span of service is determined based on the hours of key activity centers located along the alignment and ridership demand. A key factor in determining the span of service on individual lines is system connectivity. Evening schedules are designed to provide connections at the 7th St./Metro Center/Julian Dixon Station, Union Station and Imperial/Wilmington/Rosa Parks Station. The approximate span of service for light and heavy rail service is summarized below.

    Maximum Span Of Service

    Service

    Weekdays

    Weekends

    Light Rail

    3:50 am - 2:00 am

    3:50 am - 2:00 am

    (Blue Line, Green Line,

    Gold Line)

    Heavy Rail

    4:30 am - 1:30 am

    4:30 am - 1:30 am

    (Red/Purple Lines)

  • Passenger Loading
    Passenger loading is a measure of seating capacity. It is typically expressed as a percentage of the total passengers compared to the seats available. These standards are set at a level to offer sufficient seating capacity on the Metro Rail lines to meet the need of Metro’s current and future riders, and ensure overcrowded vehicles do not discourage patronage or adversely affect planned dwell times at stations. The current load standard for light rail is 175% based on 76 seats and heavy rail is 230% based on 55 seats. Currently these standards are under review and subject to change.

    Passenger Load Standards

    Service

    Standard

    Light Rail

    175%

    Heavy Rail

    230%

    The above table shows the current passenger loading standards for peak periods for each service type. The standards vary to reflect differences in seating and available space for standees by vehicle type.

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