Starting Sunday, May 7, 2023, the Yellow Line resumes operation. Twelve
Ten days later, the newest station, Potomac Yard-VT opens.
Return of the Yellow Line
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is returning Yellow to service (Alexandria Now) following rehabilitation of the bridge across the Potomac River and nearby tunnel to L’enfant Plaza. The line we was shutdown for about 8 months.
Trips between Pentagon and L’enfant will be about 10 minutes faster than taking the Blue Line through Northwest DC.
Potomac Yard-VT Station
This station which was discussed since the 1990s is finally opening. Like the Silver Line, this in-fill station was delayed by years for assorted reasons. Greater Greater Washington has covered it since 2009 if you feel like going back through their archives.
I remember going past it last summer and thinking “there’s no way!” it’ll open in 2022.
When the Metro map1 was updated to include the Silver Line’s extension and Potomac Yard wasn’t there, the suspicions grew even more. Last fall’s scheduled opening was delayed (Alexandria Now) until this month. That was already after other delays.
PRESS RELEASE: Metro and City of Alexandria announce Potomac Yard Station opening date (WMATA)
The new station will be Metro’s 98th and, for now, final station. It was also the second in-full station after NoMa on the Red Line.
While there have been proposals for system expansion, I think that is unlikely for decades, if at all.
One item of interest is that the station was required to have stone facing:
The station is a unique design in the Metro system because of its impact on the historic view of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Metro had to get approval for the design…it also features natural stone and brown steel on the exterior to blend into the area.Metro’s New Potomac Yard Station To Open May 19 – DCist
Given that the VT stands for “Virginia Tech” I would have liked to see Hokie Stone. Then again, the Virginia Tech Innovation campus doesn’t highlight Hokie Stone either.
PROJECT OVERVIEW: Potomac Yard Metrorail Station Construction (City of Alexandria)
What is known as Potomac Yard has an varied history and was one of the biggest railyards on the East Coast. It was even considered as the site of a Washington Redskins stadium in the 1990s. The city of Alexandria chronicles it extensively at History and Archaeology at Potomac Yard.
While the Yellow Line was out of service
Last fall when the Yellow Line was closed, the Blue Line was too. Between September 10 and October 25 no trains serviced Alexandria’s 4 stations as well as Franconia-Springfield and Huntingdon. Alexandria service was also closed during 2019 (WTOP) for platform renovations.
Alternative transportation options included free shuttle bus from Pentagon and Crystal City to points in the District. Alexandria specific service featured free Virginia Railway Express and water taxi. Since I live in the West End, I only availed myself of these services a few times.
During the shutdown, WMATA contacted wtih a touring bus company to provide shuttle buses between Pentagon and Crystal City every 10 minutes.
This was my primary commuting method for getting across the river. It was free as well.
It got off to a rough start though – signs at Smithsonian station were on the wrong sides of the Independence Avenue.
Overall, the reliability was pretty good. The throughput though can’t compete – each bus had 56 seats. Even if all six buses from both Pentagon and Crystal City were full, that’s only 1120 passengers an hour. An eight-car Metro train can hold more than that — 1440 passengers.
I biked to the Alexandria’s Union Station and board L’enfant bound trains 2 or 3 times. VRE only has one stop (Crystal City) between Alexandria and the District.
Frequency is every 15-20 minutes inbound. If I lived in Old Town or Del Ray, it’d be my preferred commute. It’s a smooth, quick ride. My bike was welcome on the train, though it’s a little unwieldy.
If I lived closer to a VRE station, I think it’d be my preferred option for commuting to the L’enfant or Union Station areas.
Potomac Water Taxi
On the last day the Blue Line was closed, I finally got around to taking the Potomac Water Taxi. The city partnered with the operator, City Cruises, to provide complimentary service during the shutdown. I biked there too – the boat has bike slots.
Foggy morning aside, the ride up the Potomac is a nice change of pace. In the afternoon, the sun was out so I had an enjoyable cruise back to Alexandria.
As a change of pace. I really like the water taxi and would consider it on nice days. On a daily basis though, maybe if I lived on the Alexandria waterfront and worked at District Wharf.
One of these days I will take the Ballpark Special to a Nationals game.
1 My sons’ Metro map shower curtain will soon be obsolete. I gave it to them for Christmas last year. It will technically only be accurate for the 10 days between the Yellow Line reopening and Potomac Yard VT station opening.